Cisco CEO: “I have $ 46 bn and I’m very bullish on European startups”26 Feb, 2013
John Chambers, CEO and chairman of the board of Cisco, is in Barcelona this week for the World Mobile Congress, and he told the FT that he might spend his $ 46 billion gross cash war chest on acquisitions in Europe:
“It’s no longer about beating your neighbour, it’s about who executes the best. I like some of the trends in Europe that I see. I’m very bullish about Scandinavia and Germany, and currently I’m an optimist about what’s going on in the UK.”
If it’s true, this would be great news for European startups – a few nice, big fat acquisitions would certainly hit the spot nicely, and would give some oxygen to the European startup scene. But don’t start polishing up that pitch deck yet: this could be a last ditch effort to convince the US government to change tax rules for huge corporations.
Big tech companies like Dell, Microsoft keep large amounts of cash (estimated at $ 500 billion) on foreign accounts. Oracle keeps as much as 83 percent of all its cash in foreign accounts. Bringing that money back to the US would trigger a 35 percent tax charge on the money, and the tech companies are lobbying hard to get a tax holiday.
Chambers rather explicitly said that he ‘had given the US government enough time’ to change its policy – adding that wherever Cisco invests is also where the company’s headcount will grow. In PR terms, that’s about as subtle as taking a sledgehammer to the dining gong.
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