Controversial move of Spanish construction giant to the Netherlands final 16:37 in Economy A majority of shareholders voted this afternoon for the move of Ferrovial’s head office to the Netherlands. In Spain there is great anger about this.

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A Ferrovial project
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  • Eva Wiessing

    reporter Economy

A majority of the shareholders of the Spanish construction giant Ferrovial voted this afternoon in favor of moving its headquarters to the Netherlands. This makes the move final, despite fierce opposition from the Spanish government. He tried to stop the move until the last minute.

Ferrovial wants to complete the move before the summer in order to get a stock exchange listing on the AEX in Amsterdam as soon as possible. With a stock exchange listing in the Netherlands, it is easier to also get a full listing on the American stock exchange. It should be completed before the end of the year. A listing on Wall Street would make it easier for the company to raise money for further international growth.

Ferrovial is Spain’s largest construction company and builds railways, viaducts and airports, among other things. Ferrovial’s most famous building is the iconic Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao.

But now more than 90 percent of its activities take place outside Spain, on five continents, but mainly in the US, Canada and South America. The foreign activities are already formally managed from a small office in a multi-company building in Amsterdam, where five people work.

The Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao

From a legal point of view, the move is a merger of the Dutch and Spanish branches. The head office in the Netherlands will employ thirty to fifty people.

Political pressure

Earlier this week, Spain’s Secretary of State for Economic Affairs, Gonzalo García Andrés, sent another letter to Ferrovial’s CEO, stating that the move would not bring any economic benefit. With a stock exchange listing in Spain, the construction group could also secure a second listing on Wall Street.

Moreover, the government was prepared to amend the law if necessary. The Spanish government also threatened to scrap a tax break if Ferrovial could not demonstrate an economic benefit from the move. As a result, the company would have to pay millions in additional taxes.

Incidentally, it is indeed possible with the current regulations from Spain to get a second stock exchange listing in the US, but this concerns shares without voting rights. With regard to tax benefits, State Secretary Van Rij recently wrote in response to parliamentary questions that he is not aware of whether there are tax benefits for Ferrovial with the establishment in the Netherlands. In the run-up to the announcement of the relocation plans, the Tax and Customs Administration had no contact with Ferrovial.

Anger in Spain

When the company announced its relocation plans at the end of February, several Spanish cabinet members already reacted furiously. Ferrovial was called ungrateful, because the company had grown thanks to Spanish tax money for countless infrastructure projects.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Social Affairs Yolanda Díaz suggested that the company moved to the Netherlands because of taxes: “We are talking about unfair tax competition. Let me be clear: we have to work towards a Europe where tax havens no longer exist.”

But the chairman of the board and major shareholder, multibillionaire Rafael Del Pino, was adamant. He said companies are free to locate wherever they want. Moreover, the relocation of the head office has no consequences for the Spanish part of the company. “Ferrovial is not leaving Spain.”

The number of votes for and against will be announced later.

Adriaansens: we welcome companies

Minister Adriaansens of Economic Affairs is pleased. “We welcome companies, large and small, who want to establish themselves here.” At the same time, she is aware that the move has sparked public debate in Spain. “I understand that. However, it is a business decision in which the Dutch government does not take a position,” she writes.

She recently met Rafael Del Pino and Ferrovial’s CEO. They explained the relocation plans.

  • Spanish construction giant Ferrovial wants to move its headquarters to the Netherlands
  • Economy

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