Does Apple use offshore cash to buy tech companies?

Discussion in 'Apple, Inc and Tech Industry' started by frank4, Nov 23, 2015.

?

does Apple use offshore cash to buy small tech companies?

Poll closed Dec 21, 2015.
  1. No

    1 vote(s)
    33.3%
  2. Yes

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  3. Yes, only for some foreign companies

    1 vote(s)
    33.3%
  4. Don't know

    1 vote(s)
    33.3%
  1. frank4 macrumors regular

    frank4

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2011
    #1
    We know that Apple regularly buys small tech companies, the rate is now about a dozen every year. Here is a list of the buyouts:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_mergers_and_acquisitions_by_Apple

    I have noticed that some Apple investors believe that Apple Inc uses their foreign subsidiaries or foreign assets (offshore cash) to buy foreign (and maybe USA based) technology companies. I don't think Apple works that way. I believe it is Apple Inc (the founding company in Cupertino USA) that does the buying with their own cash (or sometimes maybe with Apple shares).

    Here is a page that shows some of the organization of Apple and their foreign subsidiaries:
    http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/...nternational-structure.html?ref=business&_r=0

    Some of the Apple foreign subsidiaries are:
    - Apple Operations International
    - Apple Sales International
    - Apple Operations Europe
    - Apple Retail Holding Europe (located in Ireland)
    - Apple Retail UK (and several others for France, Germany, Spain etc)
    - Apple Distribution International (located in Ireland)
    - Apple Singapore
    - Apple Asia in-country distributors

    It appears that the first two companies listed, Apple Operations International and Apple Sales International, hold a very large amount of cash and liquid assets that total well over $100 billion and this is probably most of the money that is referred to as the Apple "offshore cash".

    The Apple foreign subsidiaries might use their cash to buy things and services that are central to their operations, such as store real estate, leases, retail equipment, and factory machinery used to manufacture iPhones, iPads, computers etc, since we know Apple owns manufacturing equipment and facilities in other countries. Probably most of this equipment is used in factories in China operated by contract manufacturers of Apple products.

    I don't think there is much evidence that Apple foreign subsidiaries buy small tech companies, or that the subsidiaries or Apple Inc use the offshore cash to make the purchase. I have looked at some of the news reports relating to a few buyouts, including foreign, and it is usually reported that "Apple" bought the company, sometimes it is definitely "Apple Inc", and I have not yet seen any confirmed report of involvement by an Apple subsidiary or use of offshore cash.

    There was some speculation in 2014 that it might be worthwhile for Apple to use offshore cash for the buyout of Beats, but no confirmation.
    http://appleinsider.com/articles/14...-deal-with-international-acquisition---report

    It is unlikely that Apple would have the foreign subsidiaries do the buying of the small tech companies, or use the offshore cash, for the following reasons:

    (1) Apple Inc has enough USA cash reserves to do these purchases since they are generally small and less than $100 million, a few are up to $500 million, and only Beats was more at about $4 billion.

    (2) The Apple foreign subsidiaries are used mainly to accumulate foreign profits while paying very low foreign tax rates and the profits are held there for the time being, to be later returned to Apple Inc when hopefully a lower USA tax situation occurs in a few years. If they were used to buy and operate foreign tech companies, that complicates the purpose and operations of the subsidiaries beyond their normal scope.

    (3) If a subsidiary purchased a small tech company with their foreign cash and then just transferred or gave it to Apple Inc, then Apple Inc would be essentially receiving the price of the company as income from the foreign subsidiary, and Apple Inc would need to pay income tax on that amount at a relatively high rate.

    (4) If the Apple subsidiaries are used to buy and operate small tech companies or merge them into Apple Inc's structure, that brings the independence of the Apple subsidiaries into question. If it is obvious that the Apple subsidiaries are essentially doing the business as Apple Inc and there is no independence or "arms-length" separation, then government tax authorities could rule that the subsidiaries are actually the same as Apple Inc and any special tax advantages of the foreign subsidiaries is gone, and all Apple income could become taxable at relatively high USA rates.

    (5) Apple seems to be satisfied with the current situation where they accumulate profits offshore while in the USA Apple Inc is easily able to run the company, do the AAPL buybacks, issue dividends, and take on some low-interest debt.

    (6) Tim Cook has said Apple does not use "tax gimmicks" so it is probable that they don't do anything tax-wise appears to be tricky or sneaky or would raise eyebrows or cause bad publicity in the future. What they are doing is conventional for large USA tech companies, although it is clear the corporate structuring is done for tax-minimization purposes.

    Discuss.
     
  2. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 3, 2009
    Location:
    Boston
    #2
    Does it matter? Its their money and they can use it as they see fit
     
  3. frank4 thread starter macrumors regular

    frank4

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2011
    #3
    I guess it matters to people who watch the Apple stock a lot. Like watching a sports team and trying to figure out the details of how they work.
     
  4. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 3, 2009
    Location:
    Boston
    #4
    The only time I see people talking about where Apple has its cash is because they want to complain about apple avoiding higher tax rates. I don't know Apple for doing that either, because well all do the same, albeit on a much much smaller scale, i.e., we all bend over backwards trying to squeeze out every write off on our tax returns to maximize our deductions.
     
  5. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2005
    Location:
    California
    #5
    I never really thought of this, but you raise a good point. I know if I was Apple and I was buying a non-US company I would use all that off shore cash to do it to spend down some of that money.

    I don't know that they would later need to gift that company of the Apple Inc. to benefit though. I think Apple could just keep that absorbed company as part of the foreign subsidiary forever.

    I know Apple and other companies have been lobbying for a tax amnesty to repatriate some of that money. Maybe they are concerned if they use the off shore cash to buy foreign companies it will anger US politicians who would then vote against the tax amnesty?
     
  6. Tech198 macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2011
    Location:
    Australia, Perth
    #6
    and i guess that's why they do this. no to turn this into a tax issue or anything, but why else wouldn't they do it ?

    There would need to have some tax reason behind it... and because it would be cheaper being offshore?
     
  7. kdarling macrumors demi-god

    kdarling

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2007
    Location:
    Cabin by a lake
    #7
    Because most of Apple's money is overseas, Apple borrows money in the US to do things like US procurements.

    Last I checked, Apple has about $40 billion in US loan debt.

    The reason they do this, is because bringing in $1 billion from overseas to the US would cost them about 38% in taxes. But they can borrow the same amount for about 3% interest rate, much of which can even be a tax writeoff. So it's a no-brainer to use borrowed cash instead.

    Others, like Microsoft, have been doing this for even longer.
     

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