Google turnover raises eye-browsers

Search engine giant posts a 2009 Danish turnover of 53 million, but internet media industry say the figure should be over a billion

Search engine Google received between 1.1 and 1.2 billion kroner from companies in Denmark last year, even though the US-based search engine behemoth posted a 2009 Danish turnover of just 53 million kroner, according to internet media trade union FDIM.

The FDIM estimation, based on figures collected from reports from advertising and marketing agencies, is backed up by media company iProspect, which specialises in search engine marketing.

Christian Iversen, search engine manager at iProspect, said that a turnover of 53 million kroner does not make sense if one considers market demand.

‘It doesn’t sound as if it’s even close to giving a correct picture of Google’s real turnover in Denmark,’ he said.

Iversen believes the discrepancy has arisen because customers are invoiced at Google’s European headquarters in Dublin rather than in Denmark.

‘Google Denmark is basically just a sales office, and that can often make it difficult to determine exactly who you’re dealing with when you do business with Google,’ said Iversen.

Christian Peytz from FDIM agrees with Iversen and adds: ‘It’s naturally very problematic that this money is not only being moved out of Denmark, it’s also being moved away from the eyes of the Danish media.’

FDIM’s revelations come at a time when politicians have become more critical of tax avoidance measures utilised by multinational companies in Denmark.

Peter Friis, managing director of Google Denmark, said that most of the company’s customers have Irish-based accounts.

‘Google Denmark just advises and services the Google brand, and that’s also how we’ve reported our income,’ he told Computerworld magazine. ‘We operate with the same laws and rules that every other business here does, and we also obey the tax laws to the letter.’