Why Facebook magnate Eduardo Saverin chose Singapore
"Becoming a Singapore resident enabled me to engage in more sophisticated financial activities," says Saverin.
Coming on the eve of the Facebook IPO, news about Eduardo Saverin's move to give up his American citizenship and become a permanent resident of Singapore spread like wildfire over the internet.
Fielding off criticism about renouncing his American citizenship to avoid taxes, Mr. Saverin said he was misunderstood. He first filed to give up American citizenship in January 2011 and matters became official September of the same year. The US government published the news April 2012 as part of a routine filing.
Since Singapore levies no capital gains taxes, analysts are saying that Mr. Saverin could be looking at savings of around US$100m.
The young billionaire is quick to clarify that they complied with all the known laws and there was an exit tax, which is based on the assets held by a citizen leaving America to make sure the departing wealthy paid something before shifting citizenships.
Mr. Saverin insisted the experience of being born in Brazil and being an American citizen for 10 years makes him consider himself a global citizen.
Mr. Saverin settled in Singapore in 2009 while on a tour around the world. He co-founded Facebook at age 21, left two years later with a legal settlement that cut him off the site but left him wealthy. Unlike two of Mr. Saverin's Facebook co-founders, Mark Zuckerberg and Dustin Moskovitz who dropped out of Harvard to work full time on the social networking site, Mr. Saverin received a degree in economics from Harvard in 2006.
What else did Mr. Saverin gain by moving to Singapore? "Becoming a Singapore resident enabled me to engage in more sophisticated financial activities. It also placed me squarely at the nexus of China, Indonesia and India, three of the world's largest populations, where the effects of social networking are just being felt.”
At present, Mr. Saverin is figuring out how to build on his assets in Singapore.
He emphasized that he is very busy with friends, family, and existing investments. He brushes off rumors that he leads a billionaire playboy lifestyle in glittering Singapore. He prefers to talk about his major investments in American companies' Jumio and ShopSavvy which he thinks will have a global impact in a Facebook-connected world.
Mr. Saverin's worth? Likely exceeding $3 billion when Facebook goes public Friday.
Since Singapore is ahead of Wall Street by 12 hours, Mr. Saverin will quietly watch the site that made him phenomenally wealthy go public with a few friends right smack in the middle of the night.
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