Tax rules almost killed million-dollar acquisition: "We paid taxes on money we had not received"

According to Danish tax law, entrepreneurs selling their company must prepay taxes on milestone payments they might never receive. Four years ago, the rules almost derailed Roche's acquisition of Santaris, when the people behind the company discovered that the tax on milestones amounted to DKK 1.3 billion (USD 198.7 million).

Foto: /Ritzau Scanpix/Sarah Christine Nørgaard

Four years ago, while Don deBethizy was CEO of Santaris Pharma and confidentially worked on a billion-kroner sale to the pharmaceutical company Roche, he ran into an unforeseen obstacle in the Danish tax system.

"It actually meant that it would have been catastrophic for us to sell Santaris Pharma – even with the deal we were getting from Roche," he says in an interview with MedWatch.

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