Princess Leia: "The more you tighten your grip, Tarkin, the more star systems will slip through your fingers."

The flight of profitable companies from the United States to low-tax countries is accelerating thanks to President Obama's determination to increase taxes on corporations and the wealthy.

ZUG, Switzerland, March 12 (Reuters) - The tidy towns and mountain vistas of Switzerland are an unlikely setting for an oil boom.

Yet a wave of energy companies has in the last few months announced plans to move to Switzerland -- mainly for its appeal as a low-tax corporate domicile that looks relatively likely to stay out of reach of Barack Obama's tax-seeking administration. ...

Over the past six months companies including offshore drilling contractors Noble Corp and Transocean, energy-focused engineering group Foster Wheeler and oilfield services company Weatherfield International have all announced plans to shift domicile to Switzerland.

"Switzerland has a stable and developed tax regime and a network of tax treaties with most countries where we operate," Transocean Chief Executive Bob Long said in a statement in October, when it announced its move. "As a result, the redomestication will improve our ability to maintain a competitive worldwide effective corporate tax rate."

Guido Jud, head of Zug's tax office, said about 1,200 companies had set up shop there in 2008 -- in line with the long-term average, though it is difficult to assess how many of those are foreign companies until they file tax returns.

Swiss cantons are free to set their own tax rates. For example in Zug, corporate tax is about 16 percent but can fall as low as 9.5 percent for companies that do most of their business outside Switzerland. That compares with an average global corporate tax rate of 25.9 percent, according to consultancy KPMG.

But lucky us, we'll get to keep General Motors, Chrysler, Citigroup, AIG....

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