Alexandre Soares dos Santos, head of family-controlled food distributor Jeronimo Martins, has moved his family’s holding company to avoid "fiscal instability" in Portugal.
Speaking to Portuguese newspaper Expresso, the family business head defended his decision to relocate the holding company, which controls 56% of Jeronimo Martins, to the Netherlands.
He said he wanted to guarantee investments and avoid the "fiscal instability" currently being experienced by his home country, which has faced tough austerity measures because of the 2011 €78 billion bailout by the International Monetary Fund and the European Union.
Uncertainty over Portugal's continued existence in the euro also influenced his decision, he said.
"I … don't know if Portugal will stay in the euro. And if it leaves, it will be to the [former Portuguese currency] escudo," Soares dos Santos told Expresso.
"I have a right to defend my property," he added.
The 76-year-old took over the family business at the age of 33, following his father’s death in 1968. He is chairman of the board, while his son Pedro is currently chief executive.
Jeronimo Martins, founded in 1792 by Jeronimo Martins, had 2010 revenues of €8.7 billion. The Dos Santos family traces its links with the business to 1921, when it bought the Jeronimo Martins shops.