Eurobites: EC to Charge Apple With Illegal Tax Deals in Ireland

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Trujillo eyes Telecom Italia stake; TeliaSonera's Eurasian troubles; Belgacom streams Netflix.

  • Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) looks like it's in hot water with the European Commission over its tax arrangements in Ireland, according to a report in the Irish Times, citing the Financial Times. Initial findings from a Commission investigation into Apple's tax arrangements in Ireland -- due to be made public later this week -- suggest that the Cupertino-based giant was the recipient of what was, in effect, illicit state aid following a series of "backroom deals" with the tax authorities. Apple, of course, denies that it has received any preferential treatment, saying that it was "simply trying to understand what was the right amount of taxes" that it had to pay in Ireland.

  • US businessman Sol Trujillo, a former CEO of Orange and Telstra, is in talks with advisers and Middle Eastern sovereign wealth funds over a possible €7.5 billion (US$9.6 billion) bid for a controlling stake in beleaguered Telecom Italia (TIM) , Bloomberg reports. If the deal comes off, Trujillo would take over as CEO and bring in a new management team at the Milan-based operator. There may be other offers in the pipeline, though, as there is now talk of Egyptian tycoon Naguib Sawiris re-entering the fray as a potential investor in Telecom Italia, Reuters reports. (See Telecom Italia Looks Vulnerable.)

  • Shenanigans of a different variety at Kcell, Telia Company 's Kazakh operator, where investigations have revealed irregularities in some of Kcell's contracts with external suppliers. Eurasia is proving a bit of a headache for the Swedish group: Reuters reports that on Friday TeliaSonera announced that it would report a non-cash write-down of 600 million Swedish kroner ($82.7 million) on its assets in the region.

  • Netflix, the fast-growing OTT TV and movie streaming service, is to be made available on Belgacom SA (Euronext: BELG)'s Proximus TV platform. Belgacom will begin installing the Netflix app on Proximus decoders, ultimately allowing all Proximus TV customers to access Netflix on their biggest screen. (See Eurobites: Could Netflix Crash Europe's Networks?)

  • BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) has launched a hosted voice service for small and medium-sized business users. According to the operator, BT Cloud Voice, which has been available to larger corporate users for more than a year, is a "business-grade IP Voice service" that "offers advanced features like conferencing, call recording, desktop sharing, soft phones and a smartphone app." The service is available on a license basis, with three options depending on the needs of the customer.

  • eircom CEO Herb Hribar is to step down, with Richard Moat, the Irish operator's CFO, becoming acting CEO with immediate effect. Hribar is returning to the US. The Irish operator recently abandoned plans for a potential IPO.

  • Also stepping down, but not unitl January 2016, is Telenor CEO Jon Fredrik Baksaas, who has been asked by the Norwegian group's board to extend his contract through 2015, after which he will act as a special adviser to Telenor for 12 months. Reuters reports that Baksaas, who turns 60 in November, has taken Telenor into several new markets during his tenure, including Thailand, Pakistan and Myanmar.

  • Google is facing further pressure from European regulators over its privacy policy, the BBC reports. The European Union's data protection working party sent a letter to Google CEO Larry Page, saying: "Google must meet its obligations with respect to the European and national data protection legal frameworks and has to determine the means to achieve these legal requirements."

  • The city of Kazan, in the Russian Republic of Tatarstan, is to host a pilot of residential WiFi services and the slightly sinister-sounding Situational Surveillance System, with the help of Cisco, which is filing the job under its "Internet of Everything" tag (Cisco-ese for Internet of Things).

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

  • Kruz 9/30/2014 | 4:05:15 PM
    Re: Apple got Bit It is amazing how Apple always has a twisted explanation for things. Its good to be the world most valuable company; not matter what you say, people will always justify it saying there is probably a good reason why you did that.
    mendyk 9/30/2014 | 9:23:54 AM
    Re: Apple got Bit Will the EU also mete out punishment to Ireland for the government's role in this arrangement? This tango involved two willing partners.
    PaulERainford 9/30/2014 | 4:07:38 AM
    Re: Apple got Bit Yeah, maybe Apple just needs to employ, you know, a few accountants or something.
    smkinoshita 9/30/2014 | 12:59:54 AM
    Apple got Bit I remember hearing about this a little while ago, but I'm honestly surprised it has actually come down to charges.

    "pple, of course, denies that it has received any preferential treatment, saying that it was "simply trying to understand what was the right amount of taxes" that it had to pay in Ireland."

    Ha ha ha ha, of course you were just trying to understand Apple.  We all know how easily confused you get.
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