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Dutch government to launch plan to keep ASML in Netherlands

By Reuters

Published : March 28, 2024 - 20:14

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Logo of ASML (ASML) Logo of ASML (ASML)

The Dutch government is expected to lay out initial plans on Thursday to keep the country's largest company ASML, from moving operations outside the Netherlands over concerns ranging from anti-immigration policies to infrastructure problems.

Semiconductor equipment maker ASML, Europe's largest tech company, shocked the Dutch government into action after CEO Peter Wennink went public with complaints about policy, including ending a tax break for skilled migrants which would make it harder for the company to hire vital staff.

ASML also said the government has been failing to invest properly to improve infrastructure in the booming Eindhoven technology hub where it is based, from highways to housing to electrical grid improvements.

Details of the plan dubbed "Operation Beethoven" have been leaked in the Dutch press, citing draft documents.

Dutch newspaper Algemeen Dagblad reported the plan includes restoring the tax break for skilled migrants and setting aside 1 billion to 1.3 billion euros ($1.1-$1.4 billion) for development in the Eindhoven region.

A spokesperson for the Economic Affairs ministry said details could not be confirmed until after a cabinet meeting later on Thursday.

A Reuters survey of Dutch blue-chip companies this month found that more than a dozen were considering moving operations outside the Netherlands. Many complained that after populist parties booked major gains in a national election last November, parliament has been pushing through policies without considering the long-term impact.

Talks on a new right wing government are creeping along, forcing outgoing Prime Minister Mark Rutte's caretaker government to act.

In addition to anti-immigration measures, companies oppose a new tax on share buybacks, limits on the tax deductibility of investments, and complain policy is too unpredictable.

Shell and Unilever moved their headquarters to London after the Dutch government in 2018 was forced to renege on a promise to scrap a dividend withholding tax.