Dyson is among British entrepreneurs owning property in the UK through overseas companies – The Guardian | NutSocia

Billionaires and businessmen like James Dyson and Tina Green own British property over foreign companies, according to a new register designed to improve transparency.

The tycoons are on a list a Guardian inquiry revealed last week, including racing driver Lewis Hamilton, the Chinese government, a number of golf kings and at least 20 Tory party donors.

The declarations will be made in the UK Government’s new register of foreign companies. Holding property by offshore companies is legal. All persons entered in the register as beneficial owners have complied with their statutory reporting requirements.

But the register sheds light on how billions of pounds are owned in mostly London property through jurisdictions like the British Virgin Islands (BVI) and the Channel Islands. The Guardian believes there is a public interest in reporting on the business interests and ownership structures of wealthy and influential people.

Dyson is listed as the beneficial owner of Weybourne Holdings Pte, a Singapore-based multinational which also houses the Dyson appliances company, the family office to manage its personal wealth and a number of commercial properties in the UK. Our analysis suggests that Weybourne owns 31 UK properties valued at least £287m according to land register records.

In 2019, Dyson moved its home appliances business to the city-state of Singapore.

Dyson, Britain’s second richest person, drew criticism for relocating his businesses after previously touting Brexit as a major opportunity for British entrepreneurs. He said the decision to move was motivated by access to supply chains and customers in Asia.

Sir James Dyson, Britain’s second richest person, is the registered owner of a company in Singapore that appears to own 31 UK properties. Photo: Christophe Archambault/AFP/Getty Images

Weybourne Holdings’ assets include office buildings in London’s Mayfair and Camden boroughs, a £43million strip of land on the Greenwich Peninsula, and sites in York and Oxfordshire.

Most were owned by the UK-based Weybourne Group until 2019, the year Dyson moved to Singapore when it was sold to Weybourne Holdings Pte. Some were bought after the company moved abroad, land registry records show.

There’s no indication that Dyson gained a tax advantage by holding the properties through Singapore.

Dyson’s lawyers said there was no tax benefit from owning the properties through Weybourne Holdings Pte, adding that some of the properties were occupied by companies within the Dyson group.

Weybourne’s ownership of the properties is public knowledge and reflects investments in the UK, they added.

Tina and Philip Green
Tina Green, pictured here with husband Philip Green, owns luxury real estate in Mayfair through companies incorporated in the British Virgin Islands. Photo: Richard Young/Rex/Shutterstock

Lady Green, the wife of Philip Green, the retail tycoon who suffered a dramatic fall when his retail empire fell apart, also appears in the Foreign Companies Register.

Her entries in the register match documents from the Pandora Papers leak of offshore data, which showed she embarked on a property buying spree as the BHS retail empire teetered on collapse.

In June 2015 she bought a Mayfair flat for £4.95million via an offshore company through Amberley Limited, incorporated in the British Virgin Islands. Green is identified as the owner of Amberley and British Virgin Islands-based Hulverstone Investments, which paid £15million for a luxury triplex apartment in Mayfair in March 2016. She also acquired a £10.6million Belgravia mansion through British Virgin Islands-based Mottistone Holdings.

Lawyers for Green said she had not been resident or established in the UK for more than 23 years and that the ownership was legal and legitimate. They added that their real estate investments are entirely separate from Philip Green’s business interests, including BHS.

Camden Market
Camden Market owner Teddy Sagi owns 27 companies incorporated in Jersey and the British Virgin Islands. Photo: Alamy

Camden Market’s owner, Teddy Sagi, is named as the owner of 27 registered companies incorporated in the British Virgin Islands and Jersey. These companies own several properties including properties in Camden Market.

A Sagi spokesman said he welcomed the register. “Due to the global nature of his businesses, his wealth is managed by a number of companies following the advice of local advisors in each country in which he invests.”

He said that Sagi’s ownership interests “consisted only of UK tax resident landowning companies. Therefore all property will be taxed fully under UK law in a fully transparent manner.”

quick start Guide

UK for sale: reporting on the register of foreign companies


The UK Government’s new Foreign Company Register has been created to improve the transparency of UK property ownership and to help authorities ensure the correct amount of tax is paid. Holding property by offshore companies is legal. Property owners through offshore companies may do so for many reasons, from tax benefits to privacy, or because they like the stability or simplicity of a particular offshore tax regime. According to the government, offshore taxation is “complex”.

However, ministers have concluded that transparency regarding foreign ownership of UK property is an important step towards improving the way the tax system works. “While the vast majority of people and businesses pay the right amount of tax, mistakes are made,” the government said in its explanation of why the register was introduced. The Foreign Company Register appears to be a major step forward in transparency as thousands of owners, including those reported on by the Guardian, come forward to declare their property. All persons entered in the register as beneficial owners have complied with their statutory reporting requirements. About a quarter of the companies that have reported so far do not yet publicly disclose their ownership structure, as trusts only have to disclose information about their beneficiaries to the tax authorities.

The Guardian has previously reported on offshore corporate ownership through leaks such as the Paradise Papers and the Pandora Papers, prompting governments, including the UK Government, to take a closer look at international tax matters and offshore secrecy. The Guardian believes that highlighting UK property held by wealthy, politically connected and influential people via foreign and offshore companies enhances this process of transparency and allows readers to understand the power structures that govern their day-to-day operations affect life, understand better.

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Overseas companies are also required to register with Companies House if they do not own property but have done so in the past or intend to do so in the future.

Chelsea FC’s new owner, Todd Boehly, has three entries on the register but none appear to own any UK property.

A spokesman for Boehly’s investment group Eldridge did not respond to requests for comment.

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