New Inversion Rules Don’t Deter $1.9B Steris Deal

Medical equipment manufacturer expects to lower its effective tax rate by about six percentage points by moving its tax domicile to the United King...
Matthew HellerOctober 14, 2014
New Inversion Rules Don’t Deter $1.9B Steris Deal

The Obama administration’s efforts to crack down on tax inversions apparently haven’t deterred Ohio-based medical equipment manufacturer Steris from offering $1.9 billion for a British company.

united-kingdom-107536_640The acquisition of Synergy Health will allow Steris to reincorporate in Britain, but keep its operational and U.S. headquarters in Ohio. It is the second inversion plan to be announced since the Treasury Department last month issued rules designed to make inversions less attractive for companies.

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Steris said tax savings were not the main objective of the deal. Synergy Health’s business includes providing sterilization services to hospitals, medical equipment makers and pharmaceutical companies.

“Together, we create a balanced portfolio of products and services that can be tailored to best serve the evolving needs of our global customers,” Steris CEO Walter M. Rosebrough Jr. said in a statement.

But the Financial Times noted that by moving its domicile to the U.K., Steris will lower its effective tax rate from 31.3% to about 25% by 2016. The takeover shows that “the U.S. clampdown has not closed the door to [inversion] deals altogether,” the FT said.

The first company to announce inversion plans since the Treasury Department’s new rules went into effect was Civeo, which said on Sept. 29 that it planned to change its tax address to Canada.

Including Steris and Civeo, reports Bloomberg, there are eight U.S. companies — with more than $200 billion in market value — that are working to complete inversions. Some 45 companies already have completed such reorganizations since 1982.

Steris set aside about 32% of its pre-tax earnings to pay taxes over the three years ended in March, and Synergy set aside 21%. Because Steris is bigger, Bloomberg noted, the companies’ combined effective tax rate was about 30%. Reducing that rate by 5% in the future would be worth about $13 million a year.

“We’re not typically users of aggressive tax policies and I don’t think we are here,” Rosebrough told analysts in a conference call Monday. “So we’re not taking super-aggressive postures. We’re not using the number of techniques that the Treasury Department has described as things that they would naturally attack.”

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