A police car is seen outside the Paris offices of Google as French police carry out a search as part of a tax fraud investigation. (Matthieu Alexandre/Agence France-Presse via Getty Images)
TECHNOLOGY
French police raid Google over tax issue

Police raided Google’s French headquarters Tuesday looking for evidence of “aggravated tax fraud,” one of Europe’s most conspicuous attempts yet to cast a U.S. technology leader as a manipulative scofflaw.

The probe reflects European indignation looming over Google and other U.S. tech companies as they amass huge amounts of cash while cutting their tax bills through complex maneuvers that shield their profits.

Google issued a statement Tuesday maintaining that it complies with all laws. The company, owned by Alphabet, also said it is cooperating with the French investigation.

Other major tech companies, including Apple and Facebook, also have been skewered in Europe for scrimping on their tax bills. At the end of last year, the U.S. technology sector had stockpiled $777 billion in cash, nearly half of the $1.68 trillion held by non-financial companies in the country, reported a study by Moody’s Investors Service.

Nearly 90 percent of the cash held by five tech companies is being kept in overseas accounts.

France’s investigation is focused on an Ireland subsidiary that enables Google to do business with customers across Europe while minimizing its taxes, known as profit-shifting. European regulators have been pressing companies to pay taxes in the jurisdictions in which they do business.

An anti-corruption unit and 25 information technology experts descended on Google’s Paris office, according to France’s financial prosecutor’s office. French daily Le Parisien said the raid took place at dawn and involved about 100 investigators.

— Associated Press

ACQUISITIONS
Monsanto rejects Bayer’s takeover bid

Monsanto rejected a $62 billion takeover offer from Bayer as too low, while saying it remains open to further deal talks, putting pressure on the German pharmaceutical giant to raise a bid that has already sent its stock tumbling.

“We believe in the substantial benefits an integrated strategy could provide to growers and broader society, and we have long respected Bayer’s business,” Hugh Grant, chief executive of the U.S. seeds company, said in a statement Tuesday. “However, the current proposal significantly undervalues our company and also does not adequately address or provide reassurance for some of the potential financing and regulatory execution risks related to the acquisition.”

Bayer will likely come back with a higher bid, Jonas Oxgaard, an analyst with Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. in New York, said in a note, adding that an offer below $135 per share would be “challenging” for Monsanto to accept.

Buying Monsanto would create the world’s biggest supplier of farm chemicals and seeds.

— Bloomberg News

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