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Cox Slams US Campaign To Delist Bermuda Based Companies From S&P 500

by Mike Godfrey, Tax-News.com, Washington

12 December 2002


In a statement released this week, Bermuda's Finance Minister, Eugene Cox hit out at an US plan to remove ten American companies with offshore headquarters from the Standard & Poors 500 index.

The S&P 500 index is a basket of 500 widely held company stocks, and its performance is generally thought to be indicative of the state of the wider stock market. S&P have estimated that delisting from the benchmark index could cause a firm's share price to drop by between 10-15%; hence Mr Cox's consternation at the fact that six of the companies put forward for delisting are Bermuda-based.

However, the proposal did not come from Standard & Poors, but from California Treasurer, Phil Angelides and the heads of nine other US state authorities, who argued that a company's decision to move offshore indicates a desire to avoid 'scrutiny for sleazy corporate governance practices.'

Mr Cox rubbished these allegations on Monday, countering that Bermuda employs strict incorporation procedures in order to ensure that foreign businesses are locating in the jurisdiction for legitimate business reasons, as opposed to for tax avoidance purposes.

'Action taken to limit the involvement of Bermuda based companies in the world economy is shortsighted and nonsensical,' he argued, continuing:

'The singling out of Bermuda based companies in this manner disregards the real issue and that is that these companies have not done anything illegal and are engaging in legitimate businesses.'

According to a Bermuda Royal Gazette report, the ten companies named in the US campaign are: Noble Drilling Corp, Cooper Industries, XL Capital Ltd, Ace Limited, Tyco International, Ingersoll-Rand, Schlumberger, Carnival Corp, Transocean Inc, and McDermott International. Of these, the first six are incorporated in Bermuda.


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