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Microsoft in hot water

China levies $140 million in back taxes from Microsoft in the first major case concerning cross-border tax evasion in the country.

Read time 5min 50sec

China's tax penalty on Microsoft and disappointing quarterly numbers from HP were the main international ICT stories of a quiet Thanksgiving week.

At home, the interim results from Naspers and T-Systems' announcement regarding Eskom stole much of the local ICT space.

Key local news

* Good interim numbers from Naspers, with revenue up 19.5% and profit up 170.8%; and Prescient, with revenue up 17% and profit up 229.8%.
* Mixed interim numbers from Huge Group, with revenue down 7.2% but profit up 131.3%.
* An interim loss from Ansys, although revenue up 192.7%.
* Metacom, an industrial and commercial communications operator, bought Multenet, a hardware development company.
* Blue Label Telecom has sold its 17% stake in Ukash to the Skrill Group.
* T-Systems has lost its outsourcing contract with Eskom.
* According to the ITU's ICT Development Index, SA has dropped to number 90, one place lower than in 2013 and below Egypt at number 89. Mauritius and the Seychelles are at 70 and 75 respectively.
* A new JSE cautionary by Poynting Holdings.
* Withdrawn JSE cautionaries by Gijima, following the publication of its rights issue document; and Poynting Holdings, following the termination of the potential acquisition of RNS.
* The appointments of Julie Ferreira as country lead for RSA, the security division of EMC Southern Africa; and Josua Malherbe as co-deputy chairman of Remgro.

Key African news

* American Tower acquired Bharti Airtel's towers in Nigeria for $1.05 billion.
* Paratus Telecom (Namibia) bought Vox Telecom's Namibian operation.
* Viettel has pulled out of the deal for it to buy Orange's 70% stake in Telkom Kenya.
* The appointment of Giorgio Heiman as African VP for Orange Business Services (OBS).
* The retirement of Jean-Luc Lasnier, African VP of OBS.

Key international news

T-Systems has lost its outsourcing contract with Eskom.

* 3D Systems purchased Cimatron in a move designed to strengthen its position in the 3D design and manufacturing business. The deal was worth $97 million.
* Qualcomm acquired Wilocity in a move designed to boost its portfolio of mobile chipsets.
* Vista Equity Partners bought Advanced Computer Software (UK), a healthcare specialist, for £725 million.
* Rakuten (Japan) invested in PocketMath, a Singapore-based mobile advertising technology start-up.
* China has levied about $140 million in back taxes from Microsoft in the first major case concerning cross-border tax evasion in the country.
* Excellent quarterly results from Veeva Systems.
* Good quarterly numbers from QAD.
* Satisfactory quarterly results from Brocade Communications, Infineon Technologies and Tech Data.
* Mediocre quarterly results from HP.
* Mixed quarterly figures from Analog Devices, with revenue up but profit down; Daktronics, with revenue up but profit down; and TiVo, with revenue up but profit down.
* Quarterly losses from Infoblox, MTS (India), Nuance Communications and Palo Alto Networks.
* A full-year loss from Spotify.
* The appointments of Janet Haugen as interim CEO of Unisys; and Paul Weaver as interim chairman of Unisys.
* The suspension of Khalid al-Kaf, CEO of Mobily (Etihad Etisalat).
* A planned IPO on London's Aim market from Focusrite, a maker of sound equipment including computer interfaces and software.

Research results and predictions

EMEA/Africa:
* Around seven million devices were shipped in the EMEA personal and entry-level storage market in Q3, down 0.4% from Q3 2013, according to IDC.

Worldwide:
* Global tablet shipments are expected to reach 74.53 million in Q4, 10.1% down from Q4 2013, according to Digitimes Research. 2014 shipments are expected to reach 235.7 million units and growing to only 285.9 million in 2018, a CAGR of 5.4%.
* Samsung, Apple and LG ranked as the top three smartphone vendors in Q3, followed by Huawei, Xiaomi Technology and Lenovo, in positions four, five and seven, according to Digitimes Research. ZTE slipped out of the top 10 (number eight in 2013).
* The worldwide tablet market is expected to see a deceleration in 2014, with a growth of only 7.2%, down from 52.5% in 2013, according to IDC.
* Tablet shipments are expected to decline 3.5% in 2015 to 174.6 million units, according to TrendForce.

Stock market changes

* JSE All share index: Down 1.8%
* Nasdaq: Up 1.7%
* NYSE (Dow): Up 0.1%
* S&P 500: Up 0.2%
* FTSE100: Down 0.4%
* Top SA share movements: CompuClearing (-19.4%), Ellies (-11%), Gijima (-48.1%), MiX Telematics (+7.9%), Morvest Business Group (-7.7%), Sekunjalo (+9.4%), Silverbridge Holdings (-13%) and Telkom SA (+7.2%)

Look out for

International:
* The possible acquisition by BT Group of O2, Telefonica's wireless operation in the UK, or of EE, the Orange/Deutsche Telekom mobile operations joint venture.
* The EU decision regarding Google and a possible split of the company in Europe.
* The outcomes of the expected reorganisation at Samsung.
* The acquisition by Microsoft of Acompli, a mobile app maker.

Africa:
* The listing of Botswana Telecommunications on 31 December.
* The roll-out of a new mobile operator in Swaziland, Swavitel.

South Africa:
* The announcement of the new outsourcing partner for Eskom.
* Further developments regarding Net 1 UEPS Technologies and the SASSA tender.

Final word

MWeb recently published its 'Top Technology Trends for 2014-2015' by its head of product research and development, Roman Hogh.

They are:
* The swing towards fibre will continue to accelerate.
* The cost of fibre connectivity is likely to start declining significantly.
* ADSL will continue to remain the connectivity option of choice for the majority of businesses.
* VSAT rates are likely to decline, while speeds available from the satellite connectivity will increase, bringing relief to business in remote areas as well as to those on the periphery of the metropolitan centres.
* More businesses will venture into the virtual arena, taking advantage of the benefits of virtual servers and virtual data centres.
* There will be an even stronger swing away from on-site PBXs towards cloud-based or hosted solutions.
* There will be a marked increase in the variety of cloud-based services that become available, as well as the uptake of these services.
* Virtual will become reality for growing numbers of businesses, large and small.

This is my final column for 2014, although my 'review of the year' will appear next week. My column will resume on 19 January and will fully cover the intervening period.

A big thank you to all my readers for your support this year; I wish you well over the festive season and a great 2015.

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