Located in the Eastern Mediterranean, the island of Cyprus is one of the most favorable jurisdictions to consider for corporate restructuring and relocation. There are many benefits to restructuring a private company into a Cyprus company including tax optimization and business environment advantages.
The Aspen Trust Group examines the reasons behind most corporate restructuring efforts and the tax-efficient advantages of restructuring as a Cyprus company.
What is Corporate Restructuring?
The term ‘restructuring’ is used to describe a wide variety of business activities which ultimately lead to the reorganization of an enterprise.
Established by Eurofound in 2001, the European Monitoring Centre on Change (EMCC) designates eight different types of restructuring activities.
- Merger and acquisition;
- Internal restructuring;
- Business expansion; and
- Those that don’t fit the previously listed activities.
The goal of the EMCC is to promote greater understanding on the changes of work, employment and restructuring.
Since the European economic and financial crisis in 2008, the concepts of restructuring and reorganization have become increasingly pertinent with the distinct rise in corporate reorganization cases.
Corporate Restructuring in the EU
On November 18, 2019, the European Council adopted a new directive in order to facilitate cross-border conversions, mergers, and divisions of limited liability companies within the EU. The directive went into force on January 1 2020 and must be implemented in the local laws of EU member countries by January 31, 2023. While the directive is focused on cross-border mergers, anticipation is high that more harmonious options for corporate restructuring are on the rise.
Back in 2005, another directive covering cross-border mergers was adopted by the European Council, which prompted the issue of procedure into domestic legislation in each member state.
Aiming to understand the economic crisis in Europe, the European Commission began conversations with EU-level partners back in January 2002 under Article 138(2) EC, now Article 154, of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) to better anticipate and navigate social effects on corporate restructuring.
As tangible action has been slow by social partners, the Commission relaunched a political debate that centered on discussions focused on change and corporate restructuring. The hope is that these conversations will lead to measures to promote employment, growth and international competitiveness.
As companies look for ways to deal with the economic challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, corporate restructuring is an attractive option. Beyond cross-border mergers, corporate restructuring is available for existing companies to gain financial advantages such as tax optimization, like those found when restructuring an established entity as a Cyprus company.
What Prompts an Existing Business to Restructure or Relocate?
There are several reasons for an existing business to begin looking at restructuring or relocating options.
Often, the most important reason for business restructuring or relocation is tax optimization. Tax regimes in various jurisdictions attract existing and new business enterprises with low-tax benefits and treaties with multiple countries to avoid double taxation.
Limited or Slow Economic Recovery
Financial pressures on businesses to reduce the costs of operations throughout regional and global recessions can lead to considerations about restructuring a foreign company in another jurisdiction. Centralizing different functions of business while relocating can alter the financial burdens on existing businesses and also lead to more economic benefits.
Issues on Compliance
Existing businesses may find increasingly complex compliance regulations too difficult and controlling. On the other hand, some jurisdictions may have too little compliance regulations that in turn lead to lower protections. Restructuring to an EU-member state offers a chance to become part of a regulated, unified market economy while ensuring that compliance is straightforward and uniform with access to protections and key benefits.
Growth between emerging, developing, and mature markets continue to show disparities. Globalization is speeding up the process of acquiring capital, goods, and markets around the world, including an expansion in the number of international employees eager to relocate or join these business ventures.
As jurisdictions begin to offer more incentives for foreign companies looking for new markets, existing businesses can restructure or relocate with the aim of maximizing value while minimizing taxes and other financial, employee, and rental costs. This strategy provides them with a competitive advantage over other companies.
Intellectual Protections (IP) and Liability Concerns
Jurisdictions attractive to foreign companies not only offer financial benefits but also maintain options for IP protections and management or have created noteworthy protections concerning liabilities, both personal and corporate. Usually, the governments of these jurisdictions are actively working to promote international company formation within their borders in order to continue strengthening regional industries and markets.
Access to employment markets with qualified staff at lower costs
With companies permanently looking to reduce employee costs they always seek to relocate to jurisdictions where the employee market is mature. There are plenty of qualified-multilingual individuals to employ and their average salaries are lower than the jurisdiction of origin.
The Cyprus Company Advantage
With one of the lowest corporate tax rates in the European Union (12.5%), Cyprus is one of the most attractive jurisdictions to consider for restructuring an existing business. In comparison, other sought-after jurisdictions such as Belgium (33.99%) and Malta (35%) have relatively high taxation.
Another consideration is that a Cyprus company does not have to pay capital gains or withholding taxes. The Netherlands, another favored restructuring destination, does not have a capital gains tax but a domestic withholding tax of 15% is applied on domestic dividends.
Furthermore, over 60 countries have signed double taxation treaties with Cyprus, making it a low-tax jurisdiction for foreign companies. In addition, a Cyprus company can be completely foreign-owned. In Switzerland, for instance, a limited liability company must have at least one Swiss resident board member or director.
A Cyprus company also enjoys the protections, benefits, and market access to the EU. Many non-EU companies invest in the country for its strategic geopolitical location which give it unique access to markets in Europe, Russia, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, not to mention its major shipping industry, one of the largest in the world. When considering other international restructuring jurisdictions, access to shipping avenues or the possibility of being located in a land-locked country may limit a business’s reach.
In terms of registering a business and opening a bank account, both processes in Cyprus are hassle-free and do not have many complex local requirements to overcome.
A Cyprus company also comes with strong IP protections through its IP Box Regime incentives. Other EU countries, such as Germany and Greece, do not have special IP regimes or advantageous tax benefits for IP incomes.
Extending beyond IP incentives, Cyprus is the next ideal location for filming and production needs as well as a range of services surrounding the industry. Its film tax incentives are competitively putting Cyprus among the ranks of Malta, Ireland, Germany, and New Zealand.
Cyprus has one of the highest percentage of university degree holders in the world in comparison to its population.
The Cyprus employment market is mature and rich in content. It consists of multilingual, degree or post graduate degree holders, not to mention the professional qualification holders, who have a thirst to work hard and succeed. The many accountants, lawyers, engineers, IT specialists, doctors not to mention analysts and actuaries are willing to be employed at lower salaries than their counterparts in Europe giving the relocating companies options of staff at competitive rates.
In all, a Cyprus company can provide benefits beyond just tax considerations that make restructuring or relocating to the jurisdiction a smart move for a host of business concerns. When compared to other favored EU destinations, Cyprus competes across the board.
The Takeaway: Forming a Cyprus Company
Forming a Cyprus company comes with a plethora of benefits for existing companies that choose to restructure as part of a financial optimization strategy. The jurisdiction of Cyprus not only provides relief from high tax burden, but also has many protections and regulations in place to make conducting business with transparency and compliance simple and straightforward.
Restructuring as a Cyprus company also provides ample opportunities to invest in new markets and maintain a global competitive edge.
The professionals at The Aspen Trust Group can assist your business with becoming a Cyprus company through restructuring plans, facilitation, and management. Consult with the team today and move financially forward.