CEO says plan is more about ‘future-proofing’ business than anything to do with Brexit
- Come on Mr Dyson, future-proof against what?
Sir James Dyson, the British billionaire inventor and outspoken Brexiter who called on the government to walk away from the EU without a deal, is moving the headquarters of his vacuum cleaner and hair dryer technology company to Singapore.
The Dyson chief executive, Jim Rowan, said the move from Wiltshire to Singapore had “nothing to do with Brexit” but was about “future-proofing” the business. The move of Dyson’s legal entity from the UK to Singapore “will happen over the coming months”, meaning it could take place before Brexit.
Sir James, who owns 100% of the company and has built up a £9.5bn personal fortune, did not comment on the move. Rowan said the decision to leave the UK was made by Sir James together with “the executive team”.
Dyson’s top executives – including Rowan and the finance director, Jørn Jensen – will be based in Singapore.
A spokeswoman for the 71-year-old billionaire said Sir James would “continue to divide his time between Singapore and the UK as the business requires it”.
Sir James Dyson did not comment on the move to Singapore. Photograph: Heathcliff O’Malley/PARowan said moving to Singapore was part of “the evolution” of the company. When asked whether Dyson could still be referred to as one of Britain’s best success stories, he said the firm should now be referred to as a “global technology company”.
In 2014, when Dyson promised £1.5bn of invesment in the UK, the then prime minister, David Cameron, described the company as a “great British success story”. There was no comment from Number 10 on Tuesday.
Rebecca Long Bailey, Labour shadow business secretary, said: “For too long this government has allowed a culture of short termism to work its way into some of our greatest British businesses, whilst those businesses doing the right thing and investing in their communities and workforce for the long term are left wanting, with little government support.”
Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran said: ‘This is staggering hypocrisy for Brexit-backing businessman James Dyson. It is utterly unbelievable that the business face of Brexit is moving yet another part of his business out of the UK.
“James Dyson can say whatever he wants but he is ditching Britain. This can only be seen as a vote of no confidence in the idea of BrexitBritain.”
The company said the decision to move to Singapore was not made for tax reasons. The corporate tax rate in Singapore is 17%, compared with 19% in the UK.
There is no capital gains or inheritance tax in Singapore. In the UK inheritance tax is charged at 40% on anything above £450,000.
Rowan said Dyson would “continue to pay tax in the UK”. Weybourne Group, through which Sir James holds his business interests including Dyson plc, paid £185m of tax in 2017, according to accounts filed at Companies House.
Dyson, which reported record annual profits of £1.1bn for 2018 on Tuesday, has already shifted the vast majority of its production to Singapore, and has announced plans to build a new electric vehicle plant in the city state. The factory is scheduled for completion in 2020 and is part of a £2.5bn investment in new technology.
The company said some of the investment money would be spent in the
UK, where it employs 4,500 people and has a research and development
campus. Dyson employs a total of 12,000 people worldwide. Relocating
the HQ will not lead to job cuts in the UK, the firm insisted.
Dyson’s announcement comes shortly after Singapore and the EU agreed a landmark free trade agreement. Singapore’s prime minister, Lee Hsien Loong, said the deal, signed in October, was: “an ambitious trade deal, it is a high-quality arrangement, and it is one which will fly the flag and encourage others, I hope, to do the same.”
Sir James has previously urged ministers to walk away from talks with the EU without a deal – he has said “they’ll come to us”, arguing that European firms would want to sell their goods in Britain rather than lose market access.
He is not the first Brexit-backing billionaire to pull back from the UK since the Brexit vote. Sir Jim Ratcliffe, the UK’s richest person with a £21bn fortune, was revealed last year to be planning to leave Britain for tax-free Monaco.
The plans for Ratcliffe, the founder and chief executive of petrochemicals company Ineos, to leave the UK came just months after he was knighted by the Queen for services to business and investment.
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