OSLO, June 18 Norwegian shipping and global
maritime industry group Wilh. Whilhelmsen (WWI.OL) will move its
shipping activities to Malta due to "uncertainty" over a new
tonnage tax regime in Norway, it said on Wednesday.
The Labour-led government last year presented a plan for a
system akin to the tonnage tax in other European countries under
which taxes would be imposed on undistributed profits retained
The proposal would force the shipping industry to pay
two-thirds of about 21 billion Norwegian crowns ($4.04 billion)
in back tax and many companies have said the changes would hit
Shipping companies have called it a betrayal of a 1996 deal,
meant to keep them competitive and under the Norwegian flag.
"The board of Wilh. Wilhelmsen (WW) has today chosen not to
enter into the new Norwegian tonnage tax regime for the majority
of its Norway-based shipping activities," the company said in a
"The basis for the decision is uncertainty related to the
predictability and sustainability of the new tonnage tax
regime," it said.
The changes were aimed at making Norwegian shipping rules
more like those in the European Union, but industry groups have
said the move might force some to register in tax havens such as
Bermuda or Cyprus.
Wilh. Wilhelmsen said that although it was moving its
shipping activities to Malta, it had no "current plans" to move
its head office from its current location outside Oslo.
Some other shipping companies, such as tanker group
Frontline (FRO.OL), have already moved their headquarters to tax
havens to escape the Norwegian tax authorities.
(Reporting by Aasa Christine Stoltz; Editing by Quentin Bryar)