Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: BT braced to battle regulator; Dixons Carphone underlying profits up; France explores 700MHz possibilities.
Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) has suspended the online sale of its products in Russia due to the ongoing volatility in the value of the domestic currency, the rouble, reports the BBC. That volatility is making it too difficult to set prices in roubles, according to Apple, which is not used to anything but the very best margins on all of its sales. The rouble has lost more than 20% of its value this week, falling to an all-time low on Wednesday of US$1 buying 79 roubles, as European Union sanctions against Russia begin to bite.
The new chief executive of UK regulator Ofcom could be in for a baptism of fire in the New Year, reports the Daily Telegraph, as BT looks to mount a legal challenge against the regulator's planned "margin squeeze test." This test was intended to find out whether BT's rivals are being charged too much for wholesale access to BT's "superfast" broadband infrastructure.
Meanwhile, on the BT/EE acquisition front, influential ratings agency Fitch Ratings Ltd. has given the thumbs-up to proposed deal, saying: "The enlarged group would benefit from revenue and cost synergies, including the recovery of revenues that are currently lost to mobile substitution and the upselling potential of quad-play, bundling mobile with its fixed voice, broadband and pay-TV services." (See BT Offers $19.5B to Buy EE, Eurobites: BT Mobile M&A Plot Thickens and Why BT + EE Makes More Sense.)
Dixons Carphone, the UK retailer of mobile phones and other electronic devices, has produced its first set of half-year results since it was created from a $6.4 billion merger in August, reports Reuters. The group posted underlying profits up 30% to ₤78 million ($122.6 million), though it showed a statutory loss of ₤20 million ($31.4 million) after exceptional charges.
French regulator Arcep has launched a consultation into the use of the 700MHz spectrum band for high-speed mobile broadband, with February 16 set as the deadline for feedback from stakeholders. This band is currently used in France for digital terrestrial TV.
Nigerian operators aren't happy about the triple tax whammy they face, with local, state and federal authorities all taking their separate slices of the profits cake, reports Reuters. MTN Nigeria said that the industry's income has made it a soft target for tax collectors, calling it the "Golden Goose effect."
— Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading