Sir Keith Mills, the founder of Nectar and major investor in loyalty specialist Ecrebo, has reportedly been hit with a £13m tax bill after losing a dispute with Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs over relief he received while running the America’s Cup sailing team.
Mills formed the team to enter the 2010 America’s Cup in 2007 and attracted talent triple Olympic gold medallist Sir Ben Ainslie. The company closed down in 2010 and had by then posted losses of £32m and received £13m tax relief.
But a tax tribunal has ruled it was not intended to be a profit-making business and so the losses are not deductible.
Mills told the tribunal he had been interested in building a “profitable sporting business that could provide a financial return”. But HMRC argued the tax relief should be returned because Team Origin was not set up as a trading company.
The 2017 America’s Cup kicks off on May 26. Mills and shareholders have invested £100m in the Land Rover BAR team racing for Britain.
In February Mills, along with former Warburg Pincus head of Europe Joseph Schull, ploughed £12m into Ecrebo’s digital marketing platform, in a move designed to will help accelerate the retail technology specialist’s global expansion, with a particular focus on North America.
The funding is aimed at building on Ecrebo’s European presence and entry into the American market in 2016. The funds will also be used to recruit new talent into Ecrebo’s growing team.
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