Denmark Tells Ørsted to Pay $1B in Taxes for UK Offshore Wind Farms

December 2, 2020

Walney, UK - Credit: Ørsted
Walney, UK - Credit: Ørsted

Danish authorities have told offshore wind developer Ørsted to pay taxes and interests amounting to DKK 6.6 billion (around USD $1 billion) for the company's British offshore wind farms Walney Extension and Hornsea 1 in the tax years 2015 and 2016. Ørsted said it would appeal.

"Today, Ørsted received an administrative decision from the Danish Tax Agency requiring Danish taxation of the company’s British offshore wind farms Walney Extension and Hornsea 1 in the tax years 2015 and 2016. The Danish Tax Agency’s claim amounts to DKK 5.1 billion, plus interest amounting to DKK 1.5 billion," Ørsted said Wednesday.

According to the decision, Ørsted is to be taxed in Denmark on the full future value of the two offshore wind farms, despite the fact that they are developed, owned, and operated by British subsidiaries of the Ørsted group and are already taxed in the UK, Ørsted said.

"The decision also entails that the date of taxation is brought forward, as Ørsted, according to the Danish Tax Agency, should be taxed on the future value long before the offshore wind farms were built," the company said.

"Ørsted disagrees with the decision and will appeal it to the Danish Tax Appeals Agency. Furthermore, Ørsted will take steps to ensure that the Danish and UK tax authorities initiate negotiations to avoid Ørsted being subjected to double taxation, if necessary, by referring the case to an independent arbitration panel," the company said.

Marianne Wiinholt, CFO of Ørsted, says: "The Danish Tax Agency’s decision is clearly based on a misconception of the risks and value creation in Ørsted’s business model for developing, constructing, and operating offshore wind farms. As early as 2015, we asked the Danish and UK tax authorities to clarify the taxing rights between the two countries, so that the offshore wind farms would not be taxed twice. However, the Danish tax authorities broke off negotiations, and haven’t since wanted to reopen them.”

If a final decision leads to an increase in Danish taxation, Ørsted says, there may, even with an offsetting effect in the UK, be a negative NPV effect of up to DKK 4 billion due to differences in terms of amount and timing of taxation between Denmark and the UK.

Ørsted will ask the Danish Tax Agency for a deferral of the tax payment until the case has been decided.

"At this stage, it has not been clarified whether the Danish Tax Agency will seek to resume the tax assessment of other Ørsted offshore wind farms," the company said.

According to Reuters, Ørsted's shares dropped as much as 4.6% on Wednesday and were trading 2.6% lower at 0835 GMT, following the announcement.

"If the Danish Tax Agency were to finally go ahead with this taxation and be upheld on appeal, it sets a dangerous precedent as the same treatment could apply to most of the UK and German farms," Bernstein analysts said in a note, as cited by Reuters. Further, Reuters reported that Jefferies' analysts said the Danish authorities' claim was "highly unusual," however, adding that Ørsted "should be able to resolve it through litigation or arbitration."

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