Alexion Eyes European Headquarters in Zurich on Expansion Push

Alexion Pharmaceuticals Inc., an American biopharmaceutical company, said it is examining a move of its European headquarters to Zurich from Lausanne in a push to expand its Swiss operations.

“Due to the current business forecasts the company wants to significantly expand its Swiss employee base in the coming years,” Alexion said in a statement, citing the “dynamic life-science cluster” in the Zurich region. The largest part of the Lausanne unit will be moved to Zurich, while some functions will be shifted to the global headquarters in Cheshire, Connecticut as well as to Dublin.

The planned move comes almost a year after drugmaker Shire Plc said it would transfer its Swiss operation with 220 employees to Zug, another German-speaking canton next to Zurich, from Eysins, a village in the canton of Vaud close to Geneva. Zug offers a corporate tax-rate for ordinary taxed companies of 15.38 percent, the fourth-lowest in Switzerland, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP. Zurich is Switzerland’s main business hub.

Alexion said it has started a consultation process with its employees and local authorities about the transfer. About 200 employees currently work at the Lausanne unit.

Swiss corporate tax rates, including a federal rate of 8.5 percent, range from 11.56 percent in the town of Wollerau in Schwyz to 24.18 percent in Geneva. That compares with a corporate tax rate of 21 percent in the U.K. and 40 percent in the U.S., according to a global corporate tax rate table compiled by KPMG.

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