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—Stefano Pessina: When you consider all the tax he has managed to avoid paying, he's got a lot of reasons to smile.

—Stefano Pessina: When you consider all the tax he has managed to avoid paying, he’s got a lot of reasons to smile.

Why should any of us pay attention to Stefano Pessina? He reckons Ed Miliband’s plan for government would be “not helpful” – but isn’t it even less helpful that he’s the acting chief executive of a major tax-avoiding company whose head office is a post office box in a tax haven?

Mr Miliband’s campaigns against high levels of executive pay and “predatory” capitalists, his plans to restore the 50p top rate of income tax, his pledge of a “mansion tax” on homes worth more than £2 million and promise to freeze energy companies’ prices for 20 months have been described by Mr Pessina as “not helpful for business, not helpful for the country and in the end it probably won’t be helpful for them”.

Gosh. Labour’s business spokesman, Chukka Umunna put him right in his place with this response: “It is important that the voice of business is heard during this General Election campaign, not least on Europe.

“But the British people and British businesses will draw their own conclusions when those who don’t live here, don’t pay tax in this country and lead firms that reportedly avoid making a fair contribution in what they pay purport to know what is in Britain’s best interests” [all boldings and emphases mine].

Mr Pessina, you see, took over Boots (more accurately Alliance Boots) in 2007, alongside US private equity manager Kohlberg Kravis Read. Between 2010 and 2012, the company’s tax bill – to all of the countries in which it operates put together – totalled £156 million, against pre-tax profits of £1.8bn – an effective rate of just nine per cent (according to Richard Brooks in The Great Tax Robbery, p.140).

It seems to this writer that Mr Pessina is the one who is “not helpful” for the country.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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