Brexit pushes Steris to move again - to Ireland

Surgical equipment maker was part of first corporate inversion post-Obama clampdown


Surgical appliances manufacturer Steris says it will move its corporate base to Ireland as a result of Brexit.

The move, which is subject to shareholder approval, comes just three years after it become the first US company to agree a corporate inversion deal after President Barack Obama’s administration announced measures to clamp down on the practice.

Steris’s $1.9 billion cash-and-share takeover of Synergy Healthcare in November 2015 saw it relocate to Britain just seven months before the UK voted to leave the European Union.

Chief executive Walt Rosebrough said re-domiciling to Ireland was its “best path forward”.

Speaking on an analyst call, he said: “Along with most of the world, we certainly did not expect Brexit at that time [the company moved to the UK], and the subsequent uncertainties surrounding Brexit.

“Simply put, significant benefits are at risk if we remain domiciled in the country that is no longer a member of the EU.”

He also expressed concern about possible curbs on the free movement of EU citizens into the UK post-Brexit.

Mr Rosebrough said the move was not expected to “materially change the day-to-day operations of the business”. which employs about 12,000 people, worldwide. That includes bases in Westport, Co Mayo and Tullamore, Co Offaly.

The company said its decision came after it had assessed “many alternatives.”

The Steris decision may be a sign that more companies are making concrete decisions on their future as Brexit nears. Steris had created an Irish entity in December 2016 but had said nothing since on the subject.

The company’s prospectus makes clear that, even if shareholders vote for the plan, the company reserves the right not to complete the move if Brexit is averted or delayed .

Before the move to the UK, Steris was paying an effective tax rate of 31.3 per cent. That has since fallen to 20 per cent, a figure that will fall further once it relocates its corporate headquarters to Dublin. – Bloomberg / Financial Times service