Also in today's EMEA roundup: EU-China exports dispute draws to close; Telefónica in potential tax trouble; Irish tax loophole closed.
Qualcomm Inc. (Nasdaq: QCOM) has agreed to pay $2.5 billion for CSR plc (London: CSR), the Cambridge, UK-based chipmaker and Bluetooth pioneer. According to Bloomberg, the deal values CSR at around 19 times its projected earnings. The move could be seen as the US chip giant putting itself in a better place for the much vaunted Internet of Things (IoT). In August, CSR rejected a $2 billion takeover bid from Microchip Technology Inc. (Nasdaq: MCHP). (See Qualcomm to Acquire CSR.)
It seems the long-running dispute between the European Union and China over Chinese exports of telecom gear may finally be drawing to a close, according to a Reuters report. Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. and ZTE Corp. (Shenzhen: 000063; Hong Kong: 0763) will no doubt be pleased to hear that EU trade chief Karel De Gucht plans in the next few days to ask his fellow commissioners to drop the case, which centered on allegations of illegal state aid being given to the exporting companies. (See Eurobites: EC, China Close to Deal in 'State Subsidies' Dispute and Eurobites: EU Drops Anti-Dumping Probe Into Huawei, ZTE .)
By contrast, the powers-that-be in Brussels could be about to go on the offensive against Telefónica SA (NYSE: TEF), which, according to Spanish newspaper El Pais, is in hot water for being on the receiving end of illegal aid from the Spanish government, in the form of tax cuts offered to help it buy foreign companies. Estimates of the money potentially to be paid back vary wildly, but some of El Pais's sources have suggested it could be as much as €4 billion ($5 billion).
The Irish government is to abolish its so-called "Double Irish" tax structure, which has allowed the likes of Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) and Facebook to legally shift massive profits from Ireland to full-blown tax havens, thereby slashing their tax bills. The BBC reports, however, that Ireland's low 12.5% corporation tax rate -- which has understandably proved a major draw to numerous large companies -- will remain in place.
Iraqi operators are unhappy with what they are being asked to pay for 3G spectrum, Reuters reports, not least because the ongoing carnage in the country has pushed up their operating costs. Zain Iraq, Asiacell Telecommunications Co. Ltd. and Korek Telecom Ltd. are each being asked to pay $307 million for the required spectrum.
UK mobile joint venture EE has agreed to buy Life Mobile, an MVNO that was part of the now defunct Phones4u retail empire, reports the Financial Times (subscription required). Life Mobile has around 85,000 subscribers, and runs on the EE network. The collapse of Phones 4u, which had been one of the UK's largest independent mobile phone retailers, led to the loss of nearly 1,700 jobs and the closure of 362 stores.
— Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading