During the previous great financial crisis, between 2012 and 2015, a risk premium as high as the one that plagued our economy, and to enjoy a more stable legal framework for its activity. Obviously, now we do not have that hard and long crisis upon us, but the two reasons that were used at that time to remove the headquarters outside of Spain are still valid and are the two basic premises that can predispose a Spanish multinational, such as Ferrovial, to consolidate its international business and open a new stage with a more stable base, even if it is not in Spain.
The technical and financial reasons that the Del Pino family construction company has put on the table to justify its decision are impeccable: they have had their majority stake in the company for a long time, channeled through two Dutch companies, to the point that 93% of its institutional partners are foreigners, just as 82% of its business comes from outside our borders. And the supposed tax savings that can be obtained with the operation are not the basis for their decision either, especially since the Spanish subsidiaries will continue to pay taxes in Spain, as they have up to now, and the tax contribution made by the holding companies of the large companies is very small. internationalized groups to the public arcades. As they point out from the company itself, that “is not relevant”. Any self-respecting tax expert knows that taxes never mark decisions about investments or establishments of companies on both sides of a border. In this case, in addition, shareholders who do not agree with this are guaranteed their ‘right of separation’, the legal figure to be handled so that there is no unwanted collateral damage.
What is taken into account is that the Netherlands is a market with a maximum credit rating of triple A and a well-predetermined regulatory system, where (for a reason) a large number of world groups are based and in which they are not going to objection to a possible international operation or alliance (friendly or not) because it is a “strategic company” in the eyes of the current government (and coalition), nor can the wide range of possibilities that the market be limited with unjustifiable regulations or taxes. The world ranking lists companies that know how to be competitive in places like the United Kingdom, Canada or the United States, to mention the three countries in which Ferrovial has great development potential. Going from the Dutch stock market to listing in New York is an easy operation already undergone by other global companies.
No matter how economically and financially logical Ferrovial’s decision may be, one cannot ignore the situation that can be glimpsed under the numbers, in a country where regulatory uncertainty has already forced reputable companies to open a legal war against a government that they do not trust financially, or energy, and much less, in tax matters. It would be wrong for Moncloa not to give importance to the departure of a ‘Spain brand’ such as Ferrovial to the Netherlands, in a situation in which -through an electoral campaign- an attempt has been made to demonize businessmen in the mouth of some ministers whom they populism clouds their reason and makes them forget that this country works because the businessmen pull it and not invest despite everything.
The decision taken by Ferrovial underlies all companies with a high international component in their activity. It does not attract attention when it comes to startups that are born global and are listed directly in the US, but it does when it comes to one of the groups that has carried (and will continue to carry) the good image and prestige that many large Spanish companies and managers have. abroad. One of the milestones that Spanish institutions always defend to sell the country brand is that six of the top ten construction and infrastructure groups operating in the world are Spanish. And it will continue to be so, because no one is going to question Ferrovial’s origin or its roots. Only now there will be those who think that they have moved their headquarters from their country there, things get very complicated because in the face of some ‘strange’ political decisions, which instead of offering security generate risk and uncertainty. It is evident that there is a before and after of the decision that Ferrovial has taken in a context of confrontation between the Government and big business. Let’s hope that everyone knows how to take their place and there is no cascading effect that repeats at the national level what happened to Puigdemont’s Catalonia.