Changes in tax and other laws and regulations could reduce our profits or increase our costs. Our businesses are subject to regulation under a wide variety of laws, regulations and policies in jurisdictions around the world. In response to the recent economic crisis and the recent recession, we anticipate that many of the jurisdictions in which we do business continue to review tax and other revenue raising laws, regulations and policies, and any resulting changes could impose new restrictions, costs or prohibitions on our current practices and reduce our profits. In particular, governments may revise tax laws, regulations or official interpretations in ways that could have a significant impact on us, including modifications that could reduce the profits that we can effectively realize from our non-U.S. operations, or that could require costly changes to those operations, or the way in which they are structured. For example, most U.S. company effective tax rates reflect the fact that income earned and reinvested outside the United States is generally taxed at local rates, which are often much lower than U.S. tax rates. If changes in tax laws, regulations or interpretations significantly increase the tax rates on non-U.S. income, our effective tax rate could increase and our profits could be reduced. If such increases resulted from our status as a U.S. company, those changes could place us at a disadvantage to our non-U.S. competitors if those competitors remain subject to lower local tax rates.
The spin-off could result in significant tax liability to us and our shareholders. Although we received a private letter ruling from the IRS and an opinion from our tax counsel confirming that the distribution of Marriott Vacations Worldwide Corporation (“MVW”) common stock will not result in the recognition, for U.S. federal income tax purposes, of income, gain or loss to us or our shareholders (except to the extent of cash received in lieu of fractional shares of MVW common stock), the private letter ruling and opinion that we received are subject to the continuing validity of any assumptions and representations reflected therein. In addition, an opinion from our tax counsel is not binding on the IRS or a court. Moreover, certain future events that may or may not be within our control, including certain extraordinary purchases of our stock or MVW’s stock, could cause the distribution not to qualify as tax-free. Accordingly, the IRS could determine that the distribution of the MVW common stock is a taxable transaction and a court could agree with the IRS. If the distribution of the MVW common stock is determined to be taxable for U.S. federal income tax purposes, we and our shareholders who received shares of MVW common stock in the spin-off could incur significant tax liabilities. Under the tax sharing and indemnification agreement that we entered into with MVW, we are entitled to indemnification from MVW for certain taxes and related losses resulting from the failure of the distribution of MVW common stock to qualify as tax-free as a result of (i) any breach by MVW or its subsidiaries of the covenants regarding the preservation of the tax-free status of the distribution, (ii) certain acquisitions of equity securities or assets of MVW or its subsidiaries, and (iii) any breach by MVW or its subsidiaries of certain representations in the documents submitted to the IRS and the separation documents relating to the spin-off. If, however, the distribution fails to qualify as a tax-free transaction for reasons other than those specified in the indemnification provisions of the tax sharing and indemnification agreement, liability for any resulting taxes related to the distribution will be apportioned between us and MVW based on our relative fair market values.
The spin-off might not produce the cash tax benefits we anticipate. In connection with the spin-off, we completed an internal reorganization, which included transactions that have been structured in a manner that are expected to result, for U.S. federal income tax purposes, in our recognition of built-in losses in properties used in the North American and Luxury segments of the Timeshare division. The recognition of these built-in losses and corresponding tax deductions are expected to generate significant cash tax benefits for us. Although we received a private letter ruling from the IRS and an opinion from our tax counsel confirming that these built-in losses will be recognized and deducted by us, the private letter ruling and opinion that we received are subject to the continuing validity of any assumptions and representations reflected therein. Accordingly, the IRS could determine that the built-in losses should not be recognized or deductions for such losses should be disallowed and a court could agree with the IRS. If we are unable to deduct these losses for U.S. federal income tax purposes, and, instead, the tax basis of the properties that is attributable to the built-in losses is available to MVW and its subsidiaries, MVW has agreed, pursuant to the tax sharing and indemnification agreement, to indemnify us for certain tax benefits that we otherwise would have recognized if we were able to deduct such losses. For additional information on the cash tax benefits anticipated, see the “Liquidity and Capital Resources” caption within Part II Item 7. “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” of this report.
If we cannot attract and retain talented associates, our business could suffer. We compete with other companies both within and outside of our industry for talented personnel. If we cannot recruit, train, develop, and retain sufficient numbers of talented associates, we could experience increased associate turnover, decreased guest satisfaction, low morale, inefficiency, or internal control failures. Insufficient numbers of talented associates could also limit our ability to grow and expand our businesses.
Delaware law and our governing corporate documents contain, and our Board of Directors could implement, anti-takeover provisions that could deter takeover attempts. Under the Delaware business combination statute, a stockholder holding 15 percent or more of our outstanding voting stock could not acquire us without Board of Director consent for at least three years after the date the stockholder first held 15 percent or more of the voting stock. Our governing corporate documents also, among other things, require supermajority votes in connection with mergers and similar transactions. In addition, our Board of Directors could, without stockholder approval, implement other anti-takeover defenses, such as a stockholder’s rights plan.