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BlackRock CEO says Trump 'tax holiday' may do little for US growth: CNBC

Saturday, January 14, 2017 - 09:37

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BlackRock Inc CEO Larry Fink on Friday criticised a policy backed by US President-elect Donald Trump to entice US companies to bring their swelling overseas cash piles home, saying a tax holiday may do little to boost growth.

[NEW YORK] BlackRock Inc CEO Larry Fink on Friday criticised a policy backed by US President-elect Donald Trump to entice US companies to bring their swelling overseas cash piles home, saying a tax holiday may do little to boost growth.

Mr Trump, who takes office Jan 20, has proposed allowing repatriation of that cash at a 10 per cent tax rate, hoping some of it would be spent on hiring and business investments.

Companies such as Apple Inc, Pfizer Inc, Microsoft Corp hold nearly US$1.8 trillion overseas, Moody's Investors Service Inc estimated last month. By doing so, they avoid a 35 per cent US corporate tax rate. "I don't believe the concept that repatriation is going to stimulate our economy - I've never believed in that," Mr Fink told CNBC in an interview tied to his company's 2016 earnings release.

Mr Fink said it is not likely that the money companies bring back would go to "building factories" and growing the economy.

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Instead, he said "it will go back to buyback more shares and it will go towards dividends and maybe M&A," mergers and acquisitions.

Mr Trump transition team officials did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.

BlackRock manages US$5.1 trillion for individual savers and institutions, ranking as a top shareholder of many of the world's largest companies. BlackRock also votes on the composition of those companies' boards as well as on governance proposals from management and shareholders.

From his perch, Mr Fink has repeatedly urged top CEOs to focus on creating long-term value instead of emphasising quarterly targets.

Buybacks can boost earnings per share figures because the practice lowers the number of shares on issue. In the past Mr Fink has said that executives have relied too much on buybacks and dividend increases rather than making investments in the long-run success of their businesses.

BlackRock on Friday hiked its own quarterly dividend by 9 per cent and ramped up its share buyback program but said it did so after making investments in its future growth. Analysts have said lower-tax repatriation could also be a big boost for asset managers.

Mr Fink, who had donated to Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, recently joined an advisory council to Mr Trump that includes several other CEOs.

REUTERS

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