DUBLIN May 11 Guinness brewer Diageo Plc
(DGE.L) denied a report on Sunday that it had held talks with
the Irish government about moving the British drinks giant's
headquarters to Ireland to benefit from lower corporation tax
Ireland's Sunday Independent newspaper reported that talks
on a move between deputy prime minister Mary Coughlan and senior
Diageo managers, including Chief Executive Paul Walsh, took
place on Friday.
Michael Patten, head of corporate relations at Diageo's
Irish operations, said he arranged and attended Friday's meeting
but that it had been set up to brief the Irish government on
plans to overhaul Guinness brewing operations in Ireland.
"I was absolutely stunned by the article in the Sunday
Independent because no such discussion took place," Patten told
"Somebody has obviously put two and two together and come up
with six or seven," he said, pointing to recent moves by other
British companies to relocate to Ireland where the corporate tax
rate is among the lowest in Europe at 12.5 percent.
The Sunday Independent reported such a move by Diageo would
save the company 250 million euros ($386.5 million) in tax a
year. The newspaper cited one well-placed source as saying the
company's board was divided over whether to relocate.
Diageo announced on Friday that it would spend millions on a
new brewery near Dublin but that it would renovate and reduce
the size of its historic operations in the centre of the city
and close two smaller breweries elsewhere in Ireland.
(Reporting by Paul Hoskins; Editing by Rory Channing)