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EMI and Rank’s tax teams show their worth at European Tax Awards

The tax groups of two entertainment companies won the in-house accolades at International Tax Review’s European Tax Awards last night.

EMI, the music company, which undertook a complex restructuring in 2011 as part of its acquisition by a multinational investor group led by Sony and Mubadala Development Company, won the in-house award for direct tax. And Rank, the UK gaming and betting company took home the equivalent prize for indirect tax on account of its landmark success in VAT litigation in the European Court.

The awards, which are now in their eighth year, were presented at a dinner in London attended by Europe’s leading tax executives and advisers. The bulk of the awards were for the tax and transfer pricing firms of the year in 27 jurisdictions. Eighteen pan-European awards also covering other practice areas such as tax disputes and indirect tax, and industries such as energy, financial services, and media and entertainment were also presented.

The European Tax Firm of the Year award, for the practice with the best strength and depth in international tax services throughout Europe, went to Linklaters, which fought off competition from a 12-strong shortlist that included the big-four professional services firms of Deloitte, Ernst & Young, KPMG and PwC, as well as Baker & McKenzie, DLA Piper, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Taxand.

The most successful firm on the night was Deloitte, which won 15 awards, including being named national tax firm of the year in Luxembourg, Norway, South Africa and Sweden, and national transfer pricing firm of the year in Austria, Central Europe, Denmark and Spain. Ernst & Young came next with seven awards, followed by Taxand with six and Baker & McKenzie and PwC with five each.

The reality of weak economies in Europe were also reflected in last night’s presentations. Arthur Cox, named as the Irish tax firm of the year, and Koutalidis, which won the equivalent award for Greece, were both cited for their tax advice on the banking crisis and sovereign debt restructuring, respectively. And Bonelli Erede Pappalardo, the winner of the Italy transfer pricing firm of the year award, was commended for its advice on the implications of the economic downturn for related-party transactions.

One new award this year was for European Tax Innovator of the Year. This was for the service provider whose process or system (eg, technology) improved the efficiency of an in-house tax department in 2011. The inaugural winner is Vertex for the implementation of Vertex® Indirect Tax O Series® software, which allows corporations to lessen the compliance burden and costs associated with maintaining VAT or other international indirect tax rates and rules.

Methodology

In addition to the in-house categories, national awards were also presented for tax and transfer pricing to firms in these 27 jurisdictions or regions:

Austria, Baltic States (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania), Belgium, Central and Eastern Europe (Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Romania, Slovenia and Slovak Republic), Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, UK and Ukraine.

To decide the winners, International Tax Review’s team of journalists undertook detailed research from a variety of sources. Submissions from firms were a vital part of this research. To compile the shortlists and choose the winners, the magazine’s editorial staff also consulted a large number of tax executives, tax advisers and lawyers to gain their perspective on the ground-breaking work that firms advised on in the January 1 2011 to December 31 2011 period.

The awards were judged according to:

• Size (Not conclusive, though it does indicate what a tax team is capable of taking on)

• Innovation (Did the solution the adviser employ show something more than the straightforward answer that is commonly used?)

• Complexity (Did the matter address tax issues that were out of the ordinary? What ingenuity did the adviser show to solve them?)


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