America once went to war to escape British taxes. Now, U.S. companies are moving to the U.K. to pay them.
U.S. businesses are buying foreign companies in countries with lower tax rates so they can switch their legal home and cut their tax bills. The process, known as inversion, is the hottest trend in mergers and acquisitions, driving some of the biggest takeovers this year.
While some companies are heading to low-tax countries like Ireland and the Netherlands, Britain is emerging as the most popular landing spot because American executives are comfortable with its location, language and lifestyle. A tax break for companies filing for patents in the U.K. is another reason, particularly for pharmaceutical makers, which have been big participants in the inversion rush.