EU launches in-depth probes into Belgian tax benefits for 39 companies

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Commission said on Monday it had opened separate in-depth investigations into tax rulings granted by Belgium to 39 multinational companies to determine whether these amounted to illegal state aid.

The Commission, which oversees competition policy in the European Union, ordered Belgian in 2016 to recover some 700 million euros ($774 million) from the companies, but that decision was struck down by an EU court in February.

The court found that the Commission had wrongly considered the Belgian “excess profit” tax exemptions constituted a scheme, prompting the Commission to relaunch its proceedings, but treating the rulings for each company separately.

The companies include brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev and subsidiaries of BASF BASFn.DE, BP BP.L, British American Tobacco BATS.L, Henkel HNKG_p.DE, Bridgestone 5108.T and Atlas Copco ATCOa.ST.

Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop