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Regulation

Eurobites: 'Uzbekgate' Could Cost Telia $1.4B

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Nokia opens UK cloud center; Commission backs decision over Apple tax clawback; Snapchat heads for Paris.

  • Telia has expressed surprise at the size of the fine that US and Dutch authorities are planning to hand down to the Swedish operator for corrupt dealings in Uzbekistan. In a statement, Telia said it understood that the "total settlement amount" fixed upon after a two-and-half-year investigation into the affair would be in the region of US$1.4 billion, an amount it describes as "very high." Norway's Telenor has also been embroiled in "Uzbekgate" through its affiliate, Russia's VimpelCom Ltd. (NYSE: VIP), in which it held a 33% stake -- a stake it is now in the process of offloading. (See Eurobites: 'Uzbekgate' Scandal Claims More Telenor Scalps and Eurobites: Norway Dumps Telenor Chairman.)

  • Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) has opened a Cloud Design Center in Fleet, UK, which incorporates a multivendor cloud platform that the vendor will use to test, validate and demonstrate new services. The delivery of the cloud will be managed at other, regional centers.

    Nokia's Cloud Design Center: Cool stools, guys.
    Nokia's Cloud Design Center: Cool stools, guys.

  • The European Commission is claiming that the decision of Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager to force the Irish government to recover €13 billion ($14.5 billion) in back taxes from Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) received "wide support" from MEPs in a debate on the matter yesterday. Acknowledging that both Apple and the Irish government have a right to appeal, she said that the Commission had "taken a robust decision" that it was prepared to defend in court. The Commission calculated that the "selective treatment" by the Irish tax authorities allowed Apple to pay an effective corporate tax rate of 1% on its European profits in 2003, falling to 0.005 per cent in 2014, which the Commission construed as illegal state aid. (See Eurobites: Irish Cabinet Decides on Apple Tax Tactics and Eurobites: EC to Charge Apple With Illegal Tax Deals in Ireland.)

  • Snapchat, the LA-based purveyor of the eponymous photo-messaging app, is to open an office in Paris, reports Bloomberg, as it looks to forge links with various French media outlets, Le Monde and Paris Match among them. The app already has 8 million daily active users in France, adds the report.

  • As Jim Morrison would no doubt tell you if he were alive today, it's always best to keep your hands on the wheel. But trying telling that to UK motorists: According to a new survey by breakdown organization RAC, 11 million of them have admitted to making or receiving a call while driving in the last 12 months, while 5 million goons have taken photos or videos while at the wheel of a moving vehicle. Using a handheld mobile phone while driving or in stationary traffic incurs a minimum £100 fine and three penalty points on a driving license in the UK.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

  • iainmorris 9/15/2016 | 10:10:06 AM
    Telenor, not Telia The original story mistakenly identified Telia as a shareholder in VimpelCom. We meant to say Norway's Telenor. This has now been corrected. Several players have now been caught up in this scandal.
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