Martin Sorrell is playing a game of cat-and-mouse with George Osbourne, Britain's chancellor of the exchequer. In 2008, WPP's chief executive moved the company's headquarters from London to Ireland, where taxes are much lower. He said at the time that it was a "difficult decision," but a reduction of $80 million in the company's tax bill seemed to make it easier.
This week, Mr. Osbourne, who holds the second-highest office in the land after the prime minister, announced a new budget, which includes bringing Britain's corporation tax down by 5% to 23 over the next four years, making it much more competitive with Ireland's rates. The move follows a personal yet very public plea to Mr. Sorrell last summer, asking him to bring WPP back to Britain.
Trying to make a persuasive argument for the corporate tax-rate cut, Mr. Osbourne said this week, "Other countries are attracting multinationals away from the U.K. I want this to be a place that international companies go to, not leave."
Everyone is asking Mr. Sorrell about the move, but he wants to see the legislation go into effect first.