Pension adviser seeks SEC probe on Walgreen's offshore move meetings -NY Post

July 18 Fri Jul 18, 2014 4:09am EDT

July 18 (Reuters) - U.S. pension adviser CTW Investment Group has asked the Securities and Exchange Commission to investigate private meetings that executives of Walgreen Co held with investors on moving its tax home base to Europe, the New York Post reported.

CTW is raising questions about whether the drugstore chain operator's meetings in April with investors Goldman Sachs, Jana Partners, Och-Ziff and Corvex ran afoul of fair disclosure rules, the NY Post said. (bit.ly/1laOCcG)

"Walgreen may have put the vast majority of its investors at a disadvantage while positioning influential hedge funds to profit from material, non-public information," CTW's Michael Pryce-Jones said, according to the NY Post.

With more than 8,200 drugstores in the United States, Chicago-based Walgreen has been under pressure from some of its investors to buy out the stake it does not already own in Alliance Boots and establish a new tax domicile in Switzerland.

The push was made at a private meeting between the shareholder group and company executives in Paris in April, the Financial Times reported.

Such a move, known as tax inversion, could significantly reduce Walgreen's taxable income in the United States, which has one of the world's highest corporate tax rates.

Calling for a new sense of "economic patriotism," U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew urged Congress on Wednesday to take steps quickly to discourage U.S. companies from moving their tax domiciles abroad to avoid federal taxes.

Representatives at the SEC, Walgreen and CTW were not immediately available for comment outside regular U.S. business hours. (Reporting by Arnab Sen in Bangalore; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier)

 
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