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Brussels has hit Apple with a record-breaking tax penalty of up to €13bn after finding the US tech group enjoyed a quarter of a century of illegal state support from Ireland that distorted competition in Europe.
The huge bill for back taxes — to which interest must be added — is at the extreme end of expectations.
The fine is part of the European Commission’s move to redraw the boundaries on aggressive tax avoidance by the world’s biggest corporations.
A 130-page judgment by the commission follows a three-year investigation into claims that two advance tax opinions issued by Dublin violated EU law by granting Apple an advantage not available to other companies.
Investigators found that Apple paid a tax rate of less than 1 per cent on European sales, much lower than Ireland’s headline rate of 12.5 per cent on business profits. The decision will be subject of appeals in European courts by Apple and Ireland, both of which have denied wrongdoing.
The biggest tax penalty in Europe to date was levied against the French energy company EDF, which was ordered to repay more than €1bn. (FT)
In the news
Poland woos London bankers Poland has become the latest country to woo some of Britain’s biggest banks in the wake of the Brexit vote with a charm offensive in London this week to lure City institutions to Warsaw. The Polish deputy prime minister will arrive on Thursday armed with a package of incentives to offer senior executives at banks that have shown an interest in shifting jobs to the continent. (FT)
France urges end to TTIP talks France has called for the EU commission to end transatlantic trade talks, declaring that there was “no political support from France” for the negotiations. Matthias Fekl, French trade minister, said he would make the formal request to halt the talks in Bratislava next month, when the 27 EU member states meet to discuss their future after the UK’s vote to leave the bloc. (FT)
Alphabet executive quits Uber board Alphabet’s David Drummond has stepped down from Uber’s board, highlighting the widening divide between the two companies as they compete in areas such as driverless cars. Alphabet became one of Uber’s largest investors in 2013 when it invested $258m in an early fundraising round, but the companies have since become fierce competitors. (FT)
Gene Wilder: comic enigma Actor and director Mel Brooks has led an outpouring of tributes from entertainment figures to Gene Wilder, who has died aged 83. Wilder was no slouch when it came to creating wise and confident solo performances, but it was in his collaborations that the shrewdness and generosity of this famously kind man really shone through. Enduring partnerships with Richard Pryor, Gilda Radner and Mel Brooks show Wilder’s gift wasn’t just his own mastery, but an ability to coax it from others, too. (BBC, Guardian)
Mondelez offer for Hershey comes to bitter end US chocolatier Hershey has rebuffed a second bid by Oreo cookie-maker Mondelez International, putting the kibosh on a takeover that could have resulted in the world’s largest candy company valued at more than $25bn. (WSJ)
Former European Commission head faces petition More than 76,000 people have signed a petition against former European Commission president José Manuel Barroso’s move to work at Goldman Sachs. The petition is seeking punitive measures, including the suspension of his EU pension. (FT)
Mylan moves to quell pricing outrage In its latest move to quell outrage over its price increases, the maker of the EpiPen has resorted to an unusual tactic — introducing a generic version of its own product. Mylan said the generic EpiPen would be identical to the existing product, which is used to treat severe allergic reactions. But it will have a wholesale list price of $300 for a pack of two, half the price of the brand-name EpiPen. (NYT)
It’s a big day for
Spain’s Mariano Rajoy After more than eight months of political stalemate, Mr Rajoy will submit his candidacy for a second term as prime minister of Spain to parliament. He needs at least a simple majority of deputies to support his bid — a level of support that is very far from being guaranteed. (FT)
Eurozone economy Surveys show that economic and business confidence in the eurozone has declined abruptly in August, in one of the first signs that concerns over the UK’s Brexit vote may be starting to bite on the continent. In the UK, however, sentiment rose. (FastFT)
Keep up with the important business, economic and political stories in the coming days with the FT’s weekahead.
Food for thought
What can stop the driverless revolution? Brilliant technologies transform the magical into the banal, writes John Thornhill. So it has been with electricity, space flight and the internet. So it is likely to prove with driverless cars. But two obstacles block their widespread adoption, one technological and the other human. (FT)
London and New York must cement their bond The FT’s Dan Glaser writes that as the UK considers its path forward after the Brexit vote, now is an important moment to strengthen the special relationship between the two countries — and the important role that the ocean-spanning megalopolis of “NYLon” will play. (FT)
Corruption for a digital age Virtually all Kenyan adults have an Mpesa account, although some probably now wish they didn’t. These include scores of police officers, mostly in the traffic department, whose Mpesa activity has led to their being fired. (FT)
Obama’s change of heart on Walmart A decade ago, then-senator Obama used Walmart to paint an example of corporate greed. He said he would never shop there because of its decision to “go with low wages and diminished benefits”, according to Bloomberg. But after Obama became president, the retailer came out in support of more than a dozen of his policy initiatives, including Obamacare and climate change. This support, plus the retailer’s effort to be more sustainable, has changed Obama’s opinion of the company. (Fortune)
Deciphering North Korea’s ties with China The Chinese characters scrubbed from road signs hint at changing relations between Beijing and Pyongyang, as seen by a Nikkei reporter on a recent visit to North Korea’s border region. (NAR)
Video of the day
US stocks near record territory after Jackson Hole The FT’s US capital markets correspondent Eric Platt explains how US stocks managed their best daily performance since August 5 as investors digested a spate of commentary from central bank policymakers over the weekend in Jackson Hole. (FT)