Fondseje af danske virksomheder: Med fokus på skattereglernes betydning for valg af fondseje i forbindelse med generationsskifte

Philip Hulgaard

Student thesis: Master thesis


The purpose of this thesis is to follow in the footsteps of the industrial foundations committee’s annotation - with respect to tax issues – in their report released on the 5th of December 2012. The committee stated that a revision of current tax legislation was necessary if company owners in the future were to transfer equity in a company to a foundation In Denmark, industrial foundations own more than half of all companies registered on the Copenhagen stock exchange with revenues totalling around 20 % of Danish Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The formation of a large number of foundations during the twentieth century was an attribute of favourable tax laws allowing an owner of a company to transfer equity holdings in a company to a foundation without taxation of any capital gains accrued (in Danish; transfer with “skattemæssig succession” – “tax succession”). Nonetheless, such an arrangement was only possible up to 1998, when the Danish government passed a bill revoking the favourable treatment of foundation formation. Thereafter, transfer of equity holdings to a foundation was only possible if the owner paid tax on all capital gains. This, however, was such a burdensome premise that there has not been established a single industrial foundation with ownership of large Danish company ever since. Foundations have shown to perform better during a depression. They have less volatile cash flow fluctuations and their investment horizon is usually longer, resulting in more money placed into research and better employee retention programs. Foundation formation also counteracts the need for repeated business succession. It protects the company from being sold to foreign entities (thereby maintaining company activity and jobs in Denmark), and it is a way for the owner to safeguard the interests of local community. Furthermore, dividends paid from companies to foundations enable these foundations to distribute grants of 6 to 8 billion DKK a year to the Danish society. In consequence, current tax legislation has the effect of limiting an ownership structure that possessesmany advantages to the society. The analysis concludes that the revoking of tax succession with every probability was a result of an incomplete assessment of societal consequences at the time of implementation. The analysis also illustrates that the foundations and foundation owned companies proves to be a vital asset for the Danish community, and that these foundations - with further involvement in research and innovation - might hold the key to sustaining Danish welfare.

EducationsMSc in Commercial Law, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2014
Number of pages133