Bank of England to buy Apple bonds

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By Dominic O’Connell -Today business presenter

The Bank of England has included Apple on a list of companies that qualify for its new economic stimulus bond-buying scheme.

This means the central bank views the company as making a “material contribution” to the British economy.

The decision will anger the Silicon Valley giant’s critics, who accuse it of avoiding tax on UK sales by routing them via Ireland.

The European Commission has attacked Ireland’s tax arrangements with Apple.

It said they allowed the iPhone maker to pay almost no tax on international sales, which amounted to illegal state aid.

Bond programme

On Monday, Apple was put on a list of 100 companies that will qualify for the Bank of England’s new corporate debt purchase initiative.

Introduced as a stimulus measure after the Brexit vote, the scheme will see the Bank enter the market for company bonds – tradeable IOUs – for the first time. The Bank says it will buy the bonds in an attempt to drive down borrowing costs and encourage businesses to invest more.

The test for inclusion was whether companies make a “material” contribution to the economy. Relevant factors include if headquarters are located in Britain, or whether a company has a significant volume of sales.

Apple does not have its headquarters here and a proportion of its sales in the UK are legally recorded in Ireland.

The Bank of England declined to comment on individual companies on the list, but a source at the Bank said the bond-buying programme was designed to influence market prices and that including the Apple bond increased its chances.

There are other companies on the list that might raise eyebrows – including the two British tobacco giants British American Tobacco and Imperial Brands – and the US fast food giant McDonald’s, whose tax affairs are also under investigation in Brussels.

 

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