(Adds comment from GDF Suez, Veolia)
AMSTERDAM Jan 23 French companies, including
part state-owned EDF, GDF Suez and Thales
, are increasingly using Dutch holdings to cut their
tax bills, Dutch paper Het Financieele Dagblad reported, citing
its own research.
Energy companies EDF and GDF Suez, defence company Thales
and water company Veolia have all recently established
financial holdings in the Netherlands, the paper said on
Three of the companies - EDF, GDF and Thales - said they did
not have businesses in the Netherlands for tax purposes.
Veolia said it had no financial holding in the Netherlands.
The Netherlands has tax agreements with many other countries
which allow companies to cut their tax bill by avoiding double
The newspaper said a total of 20 French companies, each with
sales of more than 2 billion euros ($2.7 billion), had set up
Dutch financial holdings to benefit from the country's bilateral
A spokeswoman for EDF said its financial holdings in the
Netherlands were not set up by the company but were acquired
when it bought German utility EnBW's Polish power
stations in 2011.
GDF Suez told Reuters that its use of holding companies in
the Netherlands was not for fiscal reasons but linked to its
extensive operational activities there.
A Thales spokesman said the company had had a presence in
the Netherlands dating back to 1922 and that there had not been
any change in the unit's purpose since then.
The French state has stakes in all four companies, including
84 percent of EDF.
Tax avoidance has become a widely debated topic in France
since French actor Gerard Depardieu last month complained about
tax hikes for the rich, and France's richest man Bernard
Arnault's attempt to obtain a Belgian passport.
The Thales spokesman told Reuters: "Thales' presence in the
Netherlands is not motivated by tax reasons."
He said Thales was the largest Dutch defence contractor and
noted the company had acquired Philips' defence
operations in 1989.
The spokesman also said Thales in the Netherlands was a
global centre for radar and combat management systems, which
produced 500 million euros in revenue and had some 2,000
($1 = 0.7526 euro)
(Reporting by Gilbert Kreijger, Christian Plumb and Geert De
Clercq; Editing by Jane Merriman and Mark Potter)