Sorrell warns that more firms will make tax exit

LONDON - Sir Martin Sorrell has said that more firms will follow the WPP Group example and move their headquarters from the UK to escape new taxation rules on foreign profits.

In an interview with the Financial Times Sorrell said: "WPP is not the first to create a new holding company [abroad] and it won't be the last. There are people actively considering it."

Sorrell, the WPP chief executive, said last week that WPP is to leave the UK and shift its British headquarters to Ireland.

The world's second biggest marketing services company is making the move because of the threat of a markedly higher corporation tax bill.

Sorrell made his comments as he chaired the inaugural meeting of his International Business Advisory Council, hosted by Mayor of London Boris Johnson.

Johnson called for the Government to rethink its strategy on taxation: "Great cities and great companies need each other. All companies need good people. And the best people are happiest in the best places. How we make London a more attractive place to do business, and a better place to live for those who work here, is my number one priority.

"It's clear from what I have heard that the government must rethink its strategy on taxation as many Council members reaffirmed that the current system is highly likely to drive more great wealth-creating enterprises like Sir Martin's WPP to base their headquarters overseas where they feel the tax demands are fairer."

Sorrell added: "This is a wonderful opportunity to engage with the Mayor of one of the world's most important cities. We are privileged to be able to share our thoughts and experiences to help him strengthen London which is something that that is very important to all of us on the Council. The Mayor has an incredibly difficult job, particularly in current circumstances, and the Council is committed to help support him."

Sorrell has been vocal in his opposition to the planned changes in company taxation and has been lobbying the Government to reconsider its plans. However, he has been unimpressed by the Government's promise to scrap plans for a special new tax on multinational companies as he does not believe the compromise goes far enough.