13.02.2019. AstroBank acquires USB Bank, Cyprus
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Astro Bank has completed its €40.2 m agreement to take over the banking business of USA Bank, including personnel but excluding some real estate. It said the transaction was being financed with own resources and was supported by a capital increase of €54 m, primarily from existing Astro Bank shareholders.
With the acquisition, Astro Bank said it significantly boosts its position on the Cyprus market, with the total assets growing by more than 50% to total €2.1 b, while gross loans are €1.2 b, customers’ deposits €1.9 b and equity in excess of  €160 m.
Astro Bank CEO Yiorgos Appios said the transaction reaffirmed the commitment of the management and shareholders of the bank to make Astro Bank even stronger and to offer the best products and services.

23.01.2019. Duet Group Acquires ABLV Bank Luxembourg, S. A.
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As says ABLV banks representative on 8 January 2019 ABLV Bank, AS in liquidation and Duet Group Limited (Duet) have entered into share purchase agreement to acquire 100% of the shares of ABLV Bank Luxembourg, S. A (the Bank).

The acquisition is subject to the approval by the Commission de Surveillance du Secteur Financier and the European Central Bank and Duet intends to submit the formal request for the change of control in the coming weeks. Given Duet’s interest in the current services of the Bank and its willingness to expand its operation in the future, the parties are determined to complete the transaction as soon as possible.

9.01.2019. Netherlands published “blacklisted” juridictions
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At the end of the December Dutch Government announced a list of 21 low-tax jurisdictions. Companies doing business in these territories will be subject to new anti-avoidance measures, intended to tackle tax base erosion and profit shifting.

Jurisdictions on the list have a corporate tax rate of less than nine percent. These include the five territories already on the EU tax blacklist: American Samoa, Guam, Samoa, Trinidad and Tobago, and the US Virgin Islands. The other jurisdictions listed are Anguilla, the Bahamas, Bahrain, Belize, Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, Guernsey, the Isle of Man, Jersey, the Cayman Islands, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the Turks and Caicos Islands, Vanuatu, and the United Arab Emirates.

Jurisdictions named on the list will fall within the scope of new Dutch controlled foreign companies (CFC) rules, which became effective from January 1, 2019, under the framework of the EU’s Anti-Tax Avoidance Directive.

The Directive’s new CFC rules are intended to ensure that the EU country in which a parent company is located will be required to tax certain profits that are “parked” in a low or no tax country. The company will be given a tax credit for any taxes paid abroad.

In addition, withholding tax equal to the Dutch headline corporate tax rate will be imposed on interest and royalty payments to these jurisdictions from 2021. The Dutch rate of corporate tax is 25 percent, but it will fall to 20.5 percent by 2021.

The Dutch tax authority will also no longer issue tax rulings to taxpayers with regards to tax structures involving companies established in these listed low-tax territories.

20.12.2018. Seychelles – information about directors and owners of offshore companies remains confidential
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Seychelles President Danny Faure has signed an amendment to the International Business Act 2016, maintaining the confidentiality of offshore companies registered in the jurisdiction.
Section 152 of the Act, as originally enacted two years ago, required companies to file a list of their directors with the Registrar of Companies by 1 December 2018, for inclusion on a public available central register. It also mandated the introduction of a private register of beneficial ownership, available only to the authorities.
However, strong opposition emerged from the offshore sector, which warned that many such companies would relocate elsewhere if section 152 of the Act were implemented.
It is not yet clear how the decision will affect Seychelles’ standing with the OECD Global Transparency Forum, which has grey-listed the jurisdiction pending reforms to its corporate legal framework.

12.12.2018. Top 5 countries by ease of doing business in 2019
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The World Bank has released its latest ease of doing business 2019 rankings – an annual report that ranks countries on business-friendliness, procedural ease, regulatory architecture and absence of bureaucratic red tape.
5th South Korea. The corporate tax rate in the country is suitable for foreign entities, but this year the government approved a 3%t tax rise to pay for social welfare programmes and new public sector jobs.
4th Hong Kong. Ideal location for foreign companies and access to the international market, tax-friendly jurisdiction, a trustworthy economy and political environment, world-class infrastructure and a productive legal system.
3rd Denmark. Offers foreign investors a low corporate tax rate. Other incentives include zero social contributions and a special tax system for higher salaried expats.
2nd Singapore. Easy for businesses to have access to the international market, also one of the best tax systems in the world, flexible immigration policies, an overall pro-business attitude and the world’s best professional workforce.
1st New Zealand. An easy-going tax system. The government’s incentives to digitally streamline compliance with the tax department has also made a huge impact. This Digital Transformation Initiative very simplifies all tax-related works.