WPP Leaves U.K. for Ireland to Avoid Tax

Last Updated Dec 4, 2008 6:00 AM EST

When the going gets tough, WPP gets going -- to Ireland. With the British economy in tatters and the government desperate to shore up its tax revenues, Martin Sorrell's WPP Group has fled the country to set up its legal headquarters in the tax haven of Ireland. The company issued new shares and will now hold its shareholder meetings in Dublin. WPP's real headquarters --where the deals get done -- will remain in London.

WPP is not alone. Shire Pharmaceuticals made the same move, as did United Business Media.

The move makes Sorrell seem somewhat ungrateful given that he was just given the freedom of the city of London.

It may also be a pyrrhic tax victory for Sorrell, as the UK government just announced that it intends to change the law so that British companies no longer need to move to Ireland to get the benefit.