May 16, 2006

Touching the Surface of Our Tax System: Think Warren Buffett is paying $4 billion for Iscar? Think again.

Avishay Ovadia:
This brings us to the investment in Iscar. On the face of it, Buffet paid $4 billion for 80% of the Israeli metal cutting toolmaker company. Why only on the face of it? Because in actual fact, the sum was a great deal lower.

While the structure of the deal is not known, it seems that Buffett has set up a local company that will acquire 80% of the activity of Iscar from the Iscar group, controlled by the Wertheimer family. The family will retain control over the old Iscar, which will own 20% of the activity. In the next stage, a company will be formed, into which Iscar's activity will be transferred (by both sides), leaving Buffett with an 80% stake in the new company, which will take in all Iscar’s activity.

Buffett, therefore, is buying activity, rather than company stock. The significance for tax is a benefit of around $1 billion over a 10 year period. Why? Because income tax regulations allow the recognition of amortization of goodwill on deals for acquisition of current activity at an annual rate of 10% of the goodwill. Almost all the sum paid for Iscar’s activity will be attributed to goodwill, resulting in an annual tax-deductible expense of $400 million. This expense will generate a tax saving of $100 million, assuming an effective tax rate of 25% for Iscar (for which it qualifies as a company with approved enterprise status). $100 million over 10 years is the expected saving, amounting to $1 billion.
Posted by James Zellmer at May 16, 2006 10:16 PM | Subscribe to this site via RSS:
Posted to Taxes