订阅

多平台阅读

微信订阅

杂志

申请纸刊赠阅

订阅每日电邮

移动应用

商业

辉瑞大并购“合理避税”,你该模仿吗?

Geoff Colvin 2015年12月02日

基于纯粹的经济学来判断,辉瑞与艾尔健的惊世并购交易合情合法,按理说其他人不应该对此说三道四,选择税率更低的注册地完全是一家公司的理性选择。但真实世界并没有这么简单。

有人认为辉瑞公司CEO晏瑞德是一位英雄,也有人认为他是恶棍。他坦率地承认,辉瑞与爱尔兰艾尔健公司的大规模合并交易,主要目的是将辉瑞总部迁至爱尔兰,以此规避数十亿美元税负。此举激起了一些人的愤怒!共和党总统候选人唐纳德·特朗普形容这笔交易:“令人恶心。”民主党总统候选人伯尼·桑德斯同样表示:“美国人支付的处方药价格全世界最高,此次并购对于我们来说,就是一次灾难。”或许,晏瑞德说的不无道理!美国公司面临全世界最高的税率,正如他所说,如果没有这笔交易,辉瑞只能在“一只手被捆住”的情况下,与国外对手展开竞争。

我认为,晏瑞德既不是英雄,也不是恶棍。此次交易可谓一个规模巨大、备受瞩目的案例,它向我们展示了一名CEO每天都在做的判断,但我们很难得知类似的判断是否正确。

此次交易绝对是合法的,并且毫无疑问将降低辉瑞的税收负担。作为CEO,晏瑞德必须履行为股东利益服务的诚信义务。利艾德·汉德大法官曾经说过这样一句名言:“人们通过安排自己的事务,尽可能减少纳税负担,没有任何罪过。不论穷人还是富人,都可以这样做;这样做是合理的,因为任何人都没有任何义务承担比法律规定更高的税负;税收是依法强征的费用,而不是一种自愿捐献。以道德之名要求别人缴纳更高的税负,就是伪善。”在一个纯粹的经济学世界,辉瑞与艾尔健合并不应该引起不满。

但真实情况并没有这么简单。一方面,此次交易可以令辉瑞获得税收优惠,但另一方面,消费者的愤怒和此次交易导致的政府行为,可能导致税负加重、公司品牌受损、监管增加或未来选择受限,从而使辉瑞可能面临巨大的损失。晏瑞德必须进行权衡。在现实世界,此次交易可能适得其反,最终或许会减少辉瑞的股东财富。

那么,什么才是正确的决定?去年,沃尔格林与联合博姿宣布合并时,最初的计划是以“税收倒置”的方式进行交易,将总部迁至联合博姿的所在国瑞士。但各界的激烈反对声,迫使沃尔格林CEO格雷格·沃森不得不放弃这笔税收倒置交易,因为这种方式可能导致“潜在的消费者抗议和政治分歧。”这笔交易完成后,新成立的沃尔格林博姿联合公司将总部设在特拉华州。

CEO们总是在一个较小的思维空间内作出这些决定。我是否应该取消公司的慈善项目,以获得即刻就能产生的直接的经济收益,抑或继续保留该项目,以获得一种不确定,但潜在收益更大的商誉?一家亏损的工厂正在侵蚀持有持有公司股份的退休基金的价值,但它却在一个经济不景气的地区为数千人提供了就业,我应该关掉它,还是让它继续营业?这些选择无关对错。做出选择很容易。与其他真正的两难境地一样,不论你做出怎样的选择都是正确的。每一种选择都有合理的依据,但领导者只能二选一。

一个经常被忽视的事实是,最坚定的企业社会责任倡导者和自由市场支持者都同意,归根结底,这些决定都是在寻找最好的途径将长期股东价值最大化。我还没有见过哪位企业社会责任倡导者不同意这种观点。只是,他们总是认为,从长远来看,对社会负责任的选择才能最大程度地提高公司价值。但到底怎样做才是对社会负责任?这才是这场围绕着辉瑞与艾尔健合并交易的争论和其他类似争论的核心问题。(财富中文网)

译者:刘进龙/汪皓

审校:任文科

In a world of simple economics, the Pfizer-Allergan merger wouldn’t raise an eyebrow. Of course, the world isn’t that simple.

Pfizer CEO Ian Read has become either a hero or a villain. He acknowledges readily that his giant deal to merge with Irish-domiciled Allergan AGN 2.84% is meant mostly to reduce his company’s taxes by billions of dollars as a result of moving its own domicile to Ireland. It’s an outrage! “Disgusting,” Donald Trump called it. Bernie Sanders agreed: “This merger would be a disaster for Americans who already pay the highest prescription drugs prices in the world.” Or, good for him! American companies face the world’s highest corporate tax rates, and without this deal, Pfizer PFE 2.82% must confront foreign rivals “with one hand tied behind our back,” as Read put it.

I don’t see Read as a hero or a villain. This deal is an especially big, high-profile example of a CEO making a type of judgment that every CEO makes every day, and the right judgment is far from obvious.

The deal is clearly legal. It will undoubtedly reduce Pfizer’s tax bill. As CEO, Read must fulfill a fiduciary duty to serve his shareholders’ interests. And as Judge Learned Hand famously said, “there is nothing sinister in so arranging one’s affairs as to keep taxes as low as possible. Everybody does so, rich or poor; and all do right, for nobody owes any public duty to pay more than the law demands: taxes are enforced exactions, not voluntary contributions. To demand more in the name of morals is mere cant.” In a world of simple economics, the Pfizer-Allergan merger wouldn’t raise an eyebrow.

Of course the world isn’t that simple. Read has to balance tax advantages that can be calculated to the dollar against uncertain but possibly huge costs from consumer outrage and resulting government action that could increase Pfizer’s taxes, damage its brand, add regulations, and restrict future options. In the real world, doing this deal might actually reduce Pfizer shareholders’ wealth from what it would have been.

What’s the right decision? When Walgreen announced its merger with Alliance Boots last year, it planned on a tax inversion, moving its domicile to Alliance’s home country of Switzerland. But the outcry was sufficiently great that CEO Greg Wasson canceled the inversion because it would have led to “potential consumer backlash and political ramifications.” The deal went ahead, and Walgreens Boots Alliance today is a Delaware corporation.

CEOs make these decisions on a smaller scale all the time. Do I cancel our philanthropic program for an immediate, definite economic gain, or continue it for an uncertain but possibly greater gain in the form of goodwill? Do I close the money-losing plant that is sapping the value of pension funds that own our stock but that employs thousands in an economically depressed area, or do I keep it open? These are not choices between right and wrong. Those are easy. Like all real dilemmas, these are choices between right and right. Legitimate arguments support each choice, but the leader can choose only one.

It’s often overlooked that the most committed advocates of corporate social responsibility agree with free-market stalwarts that these decisions are, in the end, about the best way to maximize long-term shareholder wealth. I have yet to meet even one CSR advocate who believes otherwise. The socially responsible course, they invariably argue, is best for increasing the corporation’s value over the long run. But what’s really socially responsible? That’s what the Pfizer-Allergan debate and the many others like it are all about.

我来点评

  最新文章

最新文章:

500强情报中心

财富专栏