After acquiring 55 percent of the European pharmacy retailer and wholesaler Alliance Boots for $15 billion, Walgreens stood to save a projected $4 billion in corporate taxes by changing their corporate domicile. However, due to some harsh criticism, Walgreens has decided against emigrating corporate headquarters abroad.
The number of corporate inversions has grown exponentially over the past decade. By changing their corporate domicile, through an acquisition abroad, U.S. corporations save 75 to 50 percent in corporate taxes. The idea seemed all too enticing for Walgreens’ CEO Greg Wasson to pass up. Yet, after more careful thought and analysis, Wasson decided the backlash would not be worth the potential savings.
In a recent statement, Wasson determined an inversion would likely “put the company in a significantly worse position than if we had not inverted at all, such as a protracted controversy with the IRS” and “litigation which could go on for three to 10 years.”
More important to their consideration was the risk of “consumer backlash and political ramifications including the risk to our government book of business;” (Walgreens receives millions of dollars in revenue from federal Medical and Medicaid programs.)
One of Walgreens’ staunchest critics of the tax inversion consideration was Senator Dick Durbin, D-Ill. In a letter to Wasson, Durbin urged him to reconsider an inversion warning him that the company would lose a significant customer based and support if Walgreens was “to turn its back on the United States.”
When the Senator heard of Walgreens’ decision to keep corporate headquarters in Illinois, he was thrilled. On the other hand, Walgreens experienced a 14 percent drop in stocks by the close of the Dow, Wednesday, due to that decision. The stock drop reflects a significant reduction in projected earnings as well as shareholders’ doubts the Wallgreens-Boots Alliance strategy is good for long-term, sustainable growth.