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​Danish pension funds ban aggressive tax planning by external managers

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Four of Denmark’s biggest pension funds have agreed on a set of common principles on responsible tax behaviour by external managers.

ATP, Industriens Pension, PensionDanmark and PFA said in a joint statement that the newly-forged principles would influence tax behaviour both in Denmark and internationally.

The four pension funds, which together manage DKK1.8trn (€236bn) of assets, said that responsible tax behaviour played an important role in Danish society and was high on the pension funds’ agendas.

Bo Foged, ATP’s chief executive, said: “When we stand together in the industry, we can make a bigger difference to influence development.”

The initiative meant ATP was working towards more responsible behaviour regarding tax, he added, and it now had an even stronger position.

“My hope is that more investors will join in the future,” he said.

Bo Foged

Bo Foged, CEO, ATP

Last autumn, ATP, PFA and PKA moved to distance themselves from Macquarie after it was named on a list of entities caught up in an international tax scandal.

The pension funds had completed a large investment deal with the Australian investment bank earlier in 2018 to buy TDC, Denmark’s former national telecoms company.

In addition, Foged was appointed to replace ATP’s previous CEO Christian Hyldahl, who left in November 2018. Hyldahl was linked to the tax scandal through a previous role at Nordea, where he headed a division that engaged in activities related to the withholding tax speculation.

Common principles

Meanwhile, Allan Polack, group chief executive of PFA, said: “We expect that the new collaboration on common principles for responsible tax practices will further strengthen our dialogue with external managers and contribute to influencing tax practices in a responsible direction.”

The pension funds said the joint action had been implemented by a specialist working group on tax at the organisations, where current legislation as well as expected developments had been discussed.

The goal was to avoid aggressive tax planning and promote transparency in investments in various legal structures, the funds said.

The four funds’ main tax principles are that:

  • The pension firms do not accept aggressive tax planning;
  • They reserve the right to request additional reporting and sampling to verify that the external trustee does not carry out aggressive tax planning;
  • External managers must monitor and manage relevant tax risks responsibly;
  • The pension firms call for transparency in field of tax; and
  • The firms urge external managers to adopt their own tax policy.

Further reading 

 

Christian Hyldahl

Christian Hyldahl

€17bn pension provider vows to scrutinise firms over tax payments
Labour market pension fund PenSam said it would investigate any companies in which it invests if they pay very little tax or channel profits through tax havens

ATP: A very Danish scandal
Media coverage of a financial scandal in Denmark last year led the resignation of CEO Christian Hyldahl

Danish pension schemes defend use of Cayman Islands funds
Danish pension funds defended themselves in 2017 against reports that they were avoiding tax by investing in funds domiciled in the Cayman Islands and other tax havens revealed in the “Paradise Papers”

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