Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Cisco's EMEA man steps down; Virgin extends Vubiquity content deal; Sky invests in video gaming; MTS buys in Mari El; Uber loses out in Finland.
Sympathy for Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) -- who would have thought it? But pity for the ruthless Cupertino money-making machine is indeed what is being expressed by Denis O'Brien, chairman of mobile carrier Digicel Group and one of Ireland's richest men. In a video interview with Bloomberg, O'Brien offers his view that Apple "played by the rules" and is being "picked on" by the European Commission, which has ordered Ireland to claw back $14.5 billion in back taxes from Apple. Leading the charge is Competition Commission Margrethe Vestager, who views Apple's effective corporate tax rate in Ireland of 1% and falling as tantamount to state aid, which is illegal under EU rules. For O'Brien's full interview, see the video below:
Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) is losing its main man in the EMEA region, who is stepping down to pursue his other business interests outside the broadcast/TV industry. As Broadband TV News reports, Jeremy Maddocks, currently Cisco's regional director for Middle East, Russia, CIS and CEE, will leave the company on October 14. He joined Cisco in January 2013.
UK-based Virgin Media Inc. (Nasdaq: VMED) has extended its content licensing deal with Vubiquity Inc. , which will allow it to add 1,200 movies and more to its TV line-up. Vubiquity, which negotiates deals with major studios and UK independents, has worked with Virgin for more than 20 years. (See Vubiquity Brokers New Deal With Virgin Media.)
Just days after investing in drone racing, Sky is now pumping £1.55 million (US$2 million) in Ginx TV, the owner of the UK & Ireland's only 24-hour TV channel dedicated to video gaming. The channel was launched on the Sky platform in June. Watching video gaming on the TV? That's a whole new level of weird.
Russia's Mobile TeleSystems OJSC (MTS) (NYSE: MBT) has acquired a regional subsidiary of Smarts OJSC, Smarts-Yoshkar-Ola CJSC, for 41 million Russian rubles ($637,000). Smarts-Yoshkar-Ola operates in the Republic of Mari El, a federal subject of Russia located in the eastern part of Russia's East European Plain. MTS says the acquisition, made through its wholly owned subsidiary, Telecom Povolzhye LLC, will enhance its presence in Mari El and provide additional spectrum of 14.8MHz in the 1800MHz range that will allow MTS to further develop LTE networks.
The European Commission has given Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) three more weeks to respond to charges that it has abused the dominance of its Android mobile operating system, Reuters reports. Google has been accused of harming consumers' interests by forcing smartphone makers to pre-install its search and Chrome browser to access other Google apps. It now has until October 7 to respond, and six days later it has to answer charges on a separate Commission case relating to online shopping services.
Uber, the company behind the high-profile ride-sharing app, has lost a test case in Helsinki, YLE reports. The Helsinki District Court has ordered two Uber drivers to pay fines after ruling that rides offered through the app constituted unauthorized taxi operations. Around 60 other Uber-related cases are under investigation by Finnish police.
— Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading