Tuesday 12 December 2017

Pharma firm wants Irish High Court to free $4bn

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John Mulligan

John Mulligan

The main Irish arm of US drug firm Mallinckrodt has applied to the High Court to reduce its share capital by almost $4bn (€3.78bn).

It has raised speculation that it could mark the beginning of a wave of similar actions by US pharma companies as they gear up to repatriate offshore funds to America.

President Donald Trump is considering a corporate tax holiday for firms that bring money back home.

The decision by Mallinckrodt plc to reduce its share capital could create distributable reserves that could then be paid by way of a dividend to the Irish company's US parent.

Trump has said that he may temporarily tax repatriated profits at a 10pc rate rather than at the current 35pc US corporate rate. That could also see tech companies such as Apple and Microsoft send cash back to the US from subsidiaries in Ireland.

The US president has claimed that repatriating offshore company funds would add two million jobs in the United States. American companies have about $1.3 trillion (€1.2 trillion) stuffed offshore.

With a market capitalisation of $5.2bn (€4.9bn), Mallinckrodt, which is headquartered in St Louis, Missouri, is a speciality drug maker and seller and a relatively small player in the global pharmaceutical sector.

Mallinckrodt plc generated revenue of $3.38bn (€3.2bn) in the financial year to the end of last September, and net income of $643.7m (€609m). Its shares, listed on the New York Stock Exchange, have slumped by about 40pc since last August.

At the end of last September, it had shareholder funds of $5.2bn (€4.92bn), including the $3.99bn (€3.77bn) held in its share premium account. In 2015, Mallinckrodt announced a $500m share buyback plan. That was boosted by $1bn at its AGM last week.

The 150-year-old company, has had operations in Ireland for 20 years.

A spokeswoman for Mallinckrodt insisted the decision to reduce its capital was not linked to profit repartiation, however. She said the pharma company wants to create additional distributable reserves to give the company greater flexibility in capital allocation, including a continued share repurchase programme.

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