back to article Vodafone hints at relocation from UK

Vodafone has hinted it may pack its bags and relocate its London-based headquarters following the momentous decision to leave the EU last week. The biz which was founded in the UK noted that the majority of its profits are derived from outside Blighty. Vodafone's continental business now accounts for 55 per cent of its …

  1. wolfetone Silver badge

    Well it already pulled their staff out of Birmingham years ago, so they'll use any old excuse to do it a second time.

  2. itzman

    So nothing to do with brexit at all.

  3. Dan 55 Silver badge

    Oh look, it's a crisis

    Quick, lay 'em off, just in case.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Surprise, surprise

    UK going outside of the Eu for them is a tax issue of gigantic proportions. Repatriating 55% of their revenue cross-border. Yeah, right.

    They are not the only one in this boat. Anyone thinking that a major multi-national will repatriate (and thus subject to taxes) income cross-jurisdiction is off their rails. Income stays where it is obtained. Eu income stays in Eu, USA stays in USA, etc. Vodafone is not alone here, every major tech company is in the same boat.

    This has an interesting side effect - you need to have enough income from your local ops to feed everything in this jurisdiction - HQ (vodafone case), R&D, etc. If there is not enough income, things move or end up lined up for a chop - starting with let's say an enormous King's Cross redevelopment project which happens to end up the wrong side of the Eu fence (Hello Google), 3 buildings next to LHR in Bedfont Lakes (Hello Cisco), several gigantic campuses next to Reading (Hello Microsoft, CA, Oracle), an occasional campus outside the M4 corridor (Hello MSFT Cambridge operation) and so on. None of these can be fed off UK operational income alone and a multinational WILL _NOT_ repatriate income, period.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Surprise, surprise

      And who's going to volunteer to be MC for the Grand Opening of the new N. Ire / Eire border ?

      You should see the discussions about this in the Irish Times

      They also talk about more normal stuff that will be affected such as education and universities

    2. CCCP

      Re: Surprise, surprise

      It is annoying, or maybe typical, that some people can't differentiate a trade surplus/deficit, with actual trade.

      As others have pointed out, a trade deficit is relatively easy to finance, you just need trust. Just look at the US of A. However, a trade deficit isn't a particular disadvantage, but strength/weakness in actual trade is.

      I have said this before, but UK sends 38-45% of its exports to the EU, i.e. a lot. Germany and France only export just over 7% of their export to the UK, i.e. not very much.

      Some commentard on here said the UK "clearly has the whip hand". I don't think so. However, most countries still in the EU are neither vindictive nor stupid, so a deal may be struck. Free movement of people will be the battle ground above all others.

    3. Matt Bryant Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Re: AC Re: Surprise, surprise

      ".....Repatriating 55% of their revenue cross-border. Yeah, right....." LOL! Vodafone, like ALL the international corporations you mentioned, pays tax locally in all the individual countries in the EU, and then pays corporation tax in the UK (well, pays as little as it can get away with - This will not change until the EU manages to agree a common tax structure, AKA, when Hell freezes. I suspect Vodafone is testing the waters to see what tax breaks and other incentives the UK will offer to keep the Vodafone HQ compared to what the individual EUropeans cities will offer. Paris is unlikely (out-of-control unions, unattractive employment regs, French investment in competitor Orange SA), Berlin also (T-Mobile/Deutsch Telekom), so the more likely competitor would be somewhere like Amsterdaam, and I'm not sure Amsterdaam could make as good a financial/taxes offer as London. Zurich might stand a chance.

      As for the other corporations you mentioned, all have been pivoting their research focus to the faster-growing Asian market anyway (MS has had a research lab in Beijing since 1998 - - CISCO in 2005 - - Oracle in 2007 -, so if they do reduce any research investment in the UK it is highly unlikely to be going to anywhere in the EU. And the reason those Septic companies are doing so is because they have found it is far cheaper to hire foreign research talent (Chinese and/or Indian) and employ them in their home countries than in the US, EU or the UK.

      International corporations will site their headquarters based on local corporate tax, local incentives, access to a skilled workforce (which speaks English), international travel/communications (hint: EU != World), strong legal system, and a pleasant living standard for executives, for all of which the UK still offers a good deal. Research, as has happened with production, will continue to shift to cheaper countries in the Far East, regardless of Brexit or the continued decline of the EU.

    4. Peterperfect

      Re: Surprise, surprise

      They could always relocate to Luxembourg there they can trade throughout Europe and pay the lowest EU tax rates same as Amazon and other big corporations do.

      Jean Claude Junker ex head of the Luxembourg government brokered this deal he has since left and is now the EU president!( he denies he was aware of the special tax favours when he was in charge). The UK tried to stop his appointment but there was little or no support from the other 27 nations with some even condemning the UK as closed minded for trying to block the election of a suspicious character as the most powerful man in Europe.

      Vodafone are a big player in Germany, Spain and Italy however most of there market share is in south Africa and India both commonwealth countries so I don't Vodafone will make a knee jerk decision.

  5. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

    I call bo**cks!!!!

    This is just political posturing like a teenage prom queen preening for the boys to give her some attention behind the bike sheds. In or out of the EU, just like HSBC, they won't have the balls to vacate UK HQ.

    So VF - if you do by chance grow a pair, please f**k off ASAP to save us from your whining and totally shit billing and customer support *cough* processes.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I call bo**cks!!!!

      As expected:

      Before vote: There is no way companies are going to leave the UK if we leave the EU, we are a big enough market.

      After vote: You suck, piss off then, we don't want you anyway.

      1. g e

        Re: I call bo**cks!!!!

        Well the politicians should be nice and comfy with a post-vote U-turn. They do it enough themselves.

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: I call bo**cks!!!!

        Unless the UK can negotiate a deal(*), any cars made in UK will be subject to WTO-standard 10% import duty when they land in the EU. Everything else will be subject to customs inspection and possible tarriffs

        That alone is enough for the multinationals to relocate manufacture to the mainland. The remaining RHD market is too small to justify keeping the factories open.

        Banks have already begun the move to the mainland. They can't stand for the uncertainty. Multinationals moving their HQs is a given for the same reason - especially the tech outfits.

        Expect to see a string of announcements. Whether Brexit happens or not, the avalanche has been triggered and the pebbles can no longer vote.

        (*) The odds of negotiating a deal are slim to neglibible. The EU wants this to HURT, so that other counties will think twice. If the UK parliament opts to ignore the brexit vote then any negotiations are going to be able negoiating the concessions we just lost (they're toast, like a petulent spoiled brat, Cameron pushed further than the EU will tolerate and everything gained thus far can be considered lost)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I call bo**cks!!!!

          @"WTO-standard 10% import duty when they land in the EU."

          Keep in mind the UK has a trade deficit of 25 BEELLION quid with the EU. So unless the EU is adverse to receiving free money, they'll accept EEA membership of the UK.

          If they refuse? Well you listed car tariffs which are higher than most tarriffs, but overall the total to subsidize the exporters to compensate for the EU duty would still be only around 8 billion, which is still 2 billion less than UK pays to EU now.

          i.e. EU have nothing to offer because UK was on such a stinky deal anyway that even being out of the EEA is still a better deal.

          Maybe my numbers are wrong, but as I'm crunching the spreadsheets now, the Brexit scaremongering looks like shit. UK was simply on a shit deal, it was paying the second largest contribution for access to a market, and had a huge deficit with that market.

          UK was paying through the nose to take a huge loss on exports, and that money was subsidizing competitors in the EU it was competing against.

          The sooner they get out the better.

          Get Boris in power and RUN don't walk to the Brexit. Every month is another billion down the plug hole.

          1. hammarbtyp

            Re: I call bo**cks!!!!

            But if we pay 8 Billion to compensate exporters how are we going to pay 350 million a week to the NHS?

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: I call bo**cks!!!!

              "But if we pay 8 Billion to compensate exporters how are we going to pay 350 million a week to the NHS?"

              Indeed in worst case scenario UK is only 2 billion better off, i.e. about 40 million extra a week for the NHS. And each week we dither another 200 million is wasted.

              What's your point? That worst case scenarios are worse than best case scenarios?

              EU cannot afford to lose 25 billion in trade, time to get weak Cameron out, put a decent negotiator in, who realizes exactly what the deal is. We get it, he's a weak leader, he dithers, but he's already announced his resignation, so now its time for his party to escort him out the door with his little cardboard box of possessions, so we can get on with the tough business negotiation.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: I call bo**cks!!!!

                erm once you take into account the rebate fees and money that the EU spends in the UK (Which Leave has promised to continue that figures drops down to 8.5 billion. So if you're now spending 8 billion offsetting the new tariffs then you don't have a lot left for the NHS


                Or is Leave going to drop more promises now that they've won...?

                Now there could be argument as to whether the 8.5 billion is worth it and maybe it isn't but i'm sick of hearing people dribble shit about numbers they pull out their arse

          2. Schultz

            "keep in mind the UK has a trade deficit of 25 BEELLION quid ... free money"

            I don't think you fully understood how the economy works. Great Britain can run a trade deficit and print money to make up for it -- as long as the trade partners trust the British economy and expect to be payed back (eventually). Britain gets something now and promises to give back something in the future.

            If the trust breaks down, the trade partners will try to get rid of their £s and the exchange rate drops. You can now argue whether this will be good or bad for Britain. It will certainly be painful for some businesses and it means that some 64 million Brits are significantly poorer. This matters, because your iPhones, socks, and cars come from abroad.

          3. Dr. Mouse

            Re: I call bo**cks!!!!

            EU have nothing to offer because UK was on such a stinky deal anyway

            Most of the EU were jealous of the special deal the UK got...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I call bo**cks!!!!

      It might be some posturing but all it will take (IMO) for it to turn into a reality is for one to go. Then the others will follow soon after.

      Then what eh? Plan Z?

      As indicated in another post it is entirely plausible that the Thames Valley will soon have another million plussq ft of office space becoming vacant. Well, that the housing crisis sorted out but there will be naff all jobs for anyone to do.

      Yes, this is the worse case scenario but at the moment there has been SFA from the leading Brexiteers bout how they will stop it happening. If you take the hate for the UK coming from parts of the EU, they will welcome those multi-nationals with open arms. Sure they might not pay much tax on their profits here but there are anwful lot of jobs that pay INcome Tax and NI into HMG's coffers. How many job losses will it take before people wake up to the reality? The reality of GB Plc becoming Greece Mk 2.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I call bo**cks!!!!

      Bollocks indeed. Without Britain in the EU, they lose they cover for spying for GCHQ:

      "On Friday Germany's Süddeutsche newspaper published ...the names of the commercial companies working secretly with GCHQ, and giving the agency access to their customers' private communications....It gives top secret codenames for each firm, with BT ("Remedy"), Verizon Business ("Dacron"), and Vodafone Cable ("Gerontic"). The other firms include Global Crossing ("Pinnage"), Level 3 ("Little"), Viatel ("Vitreous") and Interoute ("Streetcar")."

      So Vodafone, you would be in the UK, spying for Britain under the newly legalized Snoopers Charter, on European and International allies. And you wouldn't have the UK in the EU to defend your back from the consequences.

  6. Fihart

    Close the door on your way out.

    Vodaphone, costly as a provider, no longer best UK coverage.

    Big lobbyist against curbing roaming charges -- in league with UK's EU reps keen to protect Brit mobile player rather than act for consumers.

    1. et tu, brute?

      Re: Close the door on your way out.

      UK's EU reps keen to protect Brit mobile player rather than act for consumers.

      So, normal corporate operation then. Corporates will always do everything in their own interest, never in the interest of the consumer!

      Not saying you're wrong, but if you don't like it, start a revolution against capitalism...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Close the door on your way out.

      Vodaphone don't just do mobiles.

      They also bought out Cable & Wireless / Thus / Demon Internet, that have a pretty hefty landline and networking base.

    3. SVV

      Re: Close the door on your way out.

      /So that's why the EU has just abolished roaming charges and created a single pricing system across the EU in order to benefit consumers? Looks like their lobbying didn't work.

      Regardless of your opinions on the EU, at least you could have mentioned that their efforts were in vain..

      I agree however that their customer service sucks (use mobile internet with them, their credit top-up website has been broken for months now and they seem incapable of fixing it)

  7. This post has been deleted by its author

  8. Oh Matron!

    London based?

    Think you'll find it's Newbury..

    1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

      Re: London based?

      I actually think you'll find that the Vodafone Group PLC, the holding company which owns Vodafone UK along with all the other national Vodafone operations, is in Paddington.

      You are right that Vodafone UK, the UK operating company, has it's registered office in Newbury.

      It's sometimes awkward to work things out when companies set themselves up for international operations. There have to be separate tax entities set up in each tax jurisdiction (at least at the moment, until further EU integration to form a superstate creates a single tax region for the whole of the EU).

    2. JetSetJim

      Re: London based?

      Think not - their global HQ is in Paddington, right here.

      Vodafone have a large campus on the outskirts of Newbury, correct. It is the HQ of Vodafone UK, but it is not the global HQ anymore.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: London based?

        Fo' real, it's in Calais now ;)

  9. steamnut

    Bye Bye Then

    Although Vodafone does make profits in the UK, they do not pay their full share of tax so the actual loss is not great. Maybe they will enjoy the much harsher German or French tax regimes instead?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bye Bye Then

      So Vodafone pay no Employer National Insurance then? No Business Rates?


      1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

        Re: Bye Bye Then

        The Vodafone Group PLC holding company probably does not employ many people, so income tax and NI is not a huge issue. Corporation tax is another matter, but I'm sure a company like the Vodafone Group employs advanced financial engineering to minimize it's corporation tax.

    2. Andy Miller

      Re: Bye Bye Then

      Tell that to the staff.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bye Bye Then

      Just under three and a half billion corporation tax (year 2015-6) would be a loss to HM treasury and a gain to someone else. Though I don't know how much of that is attributable to corporate HQ. Nor how much tax not included in that figure is attributable to staff employed at HQ, and the "supply chain" that services them.

  10. ukgnome

    Time to go and pay no tax somewhere else?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They don't pay tax anyway so don't bang the door on the way out.

    1. d3vy

      Even if they paid NO Corporation tax (Which I would dispute - just a search back to Feb last year on this very site will contest your views) they still pay:

      * Wages to UK Staff

      * NI on those wages

      * PAYE on those wages

      * Business Rates

      * Rent/Lease on property

      The staff then spend that money in other businesses and the process starts again.

      The attitude "Close the door on your way out" is extremely short sighted because regardless how little tax they pay - who would you rather receive that money? Us or the EU?

      Also where do you draw the line? Ok, Vodaphone, sod off. Oh, HSBC, Your going too - fine we dont need you, Whats that Goldman Sachs wants to go too? FINE!

      ... SNIP...

      What do you mean theres no money left we are saving £350m a week!!! *

      * We're not.

  12. Stevie



  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Who can blame them?

    Little Englanders voted with their little England attitude. Who needs Vodafone when you've got the GPO. Picket fences, tea and scones with the vicar and village greens.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Who can blame them?

      Black Sabbath have a tour in Helsinki, Riga, Krakow and Prague in the next few days,

      called "The End"

      Not quite sure if Ozzy is psychic or ..... ;)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Who can blame them?

      "Little Englanders voted with their little England attitude. Who needs Vodafone when you've got the GPO."

      Oddly, it was the Little Engladers' favourite party that privatised the telecoms side of the former GPO decades ago, then privatised the remainder of the Post Office a couple of years back- despite the fact that most people were against it- because free market dogma. Expect it to end up in the hands of a foreign government (and Tim Worstall to explain why this is a good thing after the Spanish have kicked him out of his castle and he's living next to a rainy car park in Slough).

      Nice how during the Scottish independence debate a couple of years ago, Operation Fear Mk. 1 was telling us about all those wonderful things we'd lose if we left the UK, like the BBC.

      Of course, even then anyone with half a brain knew that the Tories were likely to have privatised it- albeit mainly by the backdoor- as soon as they could get away with it. Ditto pretty much everything else.

      I also remember something about independence being bad for Scotland because we were risking our place within the EU..... phew- we dodged a bullet there, didn't we? It's reassuring to know that as part of the United Kingdom of Little England and its Provincial Chums our EU membership is completely safe.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Work Permits

    If Vodafone HQ leaves London for an EU location will the current UK national staff be able to follow to keep their jobs? Maybe the incumbents could be given a pass but longer term?

    If we don't allow freedom of movement and employment to EU nationals why should the EU do the same for us.?

    Of course, this has nothing to do with Brexit because we were told that leaving would make the economy stronger.

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: Work Permits

      Interesting question.

      The number one Eu work permit requirement mulled by the Boris gang is that any of the people coming from the Eu has a job already waiting for them. The number two is that they know English. Neither one of these is particularly hard. 40%+ of the younger generation in Eastern Europe do and a significant percentage will pass an English language proficiency test with flying colors.

      Now, shall we translate this back if Eu puts the same req on a reciprocal basis (which it will). How much of English residents will pass a German, French, Italian or Spanish language proficiency test? And what about Swedish? Finnish? Czech? Slovakian? Romanian? Bulgarian?

      Out of all Boris follies, _THIS_ will be the one to hurt Britain the most as it will not stop any import of labor into the UK, but it will put an effective barrier on most British working in Europe and relocating with their company which is fleeing the Brexit aftershocks.

  15. Dr. Mouse

    No surprise

    It is no surprise that companies with EU HQs in the UK will have to set up a new EU HQ inside the EU if we leave. This will cause jobs to move there from the UK.

    They will also probably be a UK HQ. However, this will only be needed for UK operations, and will likely be much smaller, employing far fewer staff.

    UK staff will have less to do with EU operations, and EU staff less to do with UK operations. This will likely mean a net movement of jobs from the UK to the EU, although it could balance out.

    IMHO the UK government would do well right now to incentivise businesses to come to the UK, probably through lower corporation tax and/or other tax breaks. This would minimise job losses on exit, and could even stimulate growth. Let's face it, most find ways to avoid paying much anyway...

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So what they are saying is that they have already moved almost all of their operations etc out of the UK anyway so now they might move the rest?

    A bit like most of the other big companies who were so keen on promoting a 'Remain' vote. I seem to recall most of them moving elsewhere with EU grants to subsidise their moves and their new workplaces... so totally unbiased, of course!

  17. Lyndon Hills 1

    Thought they were based in Luxembourg anyway?

    Oh no, that's just where they pay tax....

  18. netean


    Great news, now they can not pay their taxes for another country instead!

    1. Dr. Mouse

      Re: Good

      Such great news for their employees too, and those of all the other EU HQs which move to the mainland. They'll be so much better off with all that free time on their hands! Yay!

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There will soon be another drain on the NHS.

    Queues of Brexiteers in need of nose jobs after chopping them off to spite their face.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Very scary conversations being had at the moment

    Lots of hush, hush conversations being had here, mainly about Dublin. Lovely city but being able to drink a very fine pint of Guinness probably doesn't compensate for being separated from my wife and kids from Monday to Friday. AC for obvious reasons.

  21. ad47uk

    Not that vodafone will care, but one of of the few reason I stay with Vodafone because it is the most British network provider, it just keeps me with them, if they move out I would not have that reason and I would drop them like a stone. Moving their shop from the centre of town to our new shopping centre almost lost them my custom, moving out of the UK would certainly do it.

    but as I said, they would not care.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Obviously the story is about Vodafone plc. But don't kid yourself that Vodafone UK are more British than any of the other networks. Gone are the days of the company that was set up by Racal (and encouraged by Thatcher) to provide some competition to BT's mobile venture. Large parts of its business have been outsourced and offshored. Has it improved its services by doing so ?- well - you can judge for yourself.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      "it is the most British network provider, it just keeps me with them"

      Jeez, what a moron. Do you also visit only the most websites and eat the most UK-grown bananas?

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Freedom of movement of people, capital and goods

    freedom to optimize tax payment...

    sorry, I'm not a brexiter, but when I read such bullshit from a multinational, I see the steaming pile rather than the "FREEDOM!!!!" they cry so much about....

  23. R Callan

    I thought that they had already left Britain. If I have a problem (I became a customer through buyouts and am too lazy to change) I end up talking to someone in the Phillipines, not the U.K. or N.Z. where I reside.

  24. smartypants

    Did the leave campaign...

    Say anything that wasn't utter bollocks?

    It's like someone claimed you could set fire to the house and all would be well, or perhaps even tidied up a bit. Throw in 30 or 40 years of bitching and moaning at the pesky roof and the intact windows and get people to believe the house is bad and setting fire to it is a good thing.

    (At least you can insure a house. Pity you can't insure a country against idiocy by its own people.)

    1. Matt Bryant Silver badge

      Re: smartypants Re: Did the leave campaign...

      "....Say anything that wasn't utter bollocks?" The problem was more that both campaigns became very negative, but it seems the majority believed the Remain campaign to be the one telling the biggest porkies. I started out as a lukewarm Remainer - able to suffer the business status quo, not particularly happy with the direction the EU was going in, but realizing that Brexit would mean big challenges. But after hearing some of the desperate drivel, on par with claims that Brexit would kill puppies and kittens, plus the reaction of many EUers ("You must be racist if you want to leave the EU!"), I began to realise it was actually the EUers that were terrified we'd leave and were willing to threaten anything to stop it. Generally, threatening is not a good way to swing someone round to your point of view. Whenever I engaged pro-EU people in conversation around why we should stay they had very little positives to offer other than "It's good for the rest of the EU"! So, whilst you may maintain that the Leave campaing was "utter bollocks", the Remain crowd did worse.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They have been planning this for about five years.

    Those of us who've worked there know exactly what's happened.

  26. MarkW99

    Love the hogwash preamble about participating in the single digital market. Vodafone has several large operating companies already active in Europe so this is not an issue. The real issue is the taxation of profits that have not yet been distributed to the UK, sitting in its European subsidiaries. The UK lost a case in the ECJ where it tried to apply the UK's CFC (controlled foreign corporation) tax rules taxing passive income in subsidiaries in low tax countries (in this case Luxembourg). The ECJ ruled that this was against various EU principles. After Brexit, all gloves are off and firms such as Vodafone risk a big tax bill. While we are still in the EU, they may be able to get away with a corprate restructuring that largely avoids any exit charges, but that may rely on having a business purpose and not just being some fancy footwork with their tax bill. Hence the guff about single digital markets.

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