SA to host 2015 AFCON?

Following spread of the deadly Ebola virus in West Africa, 2015 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) host nation, Morocco, is opting to withdraw themselves from hosting the 30th edition of the continental showpiece.

Morocco requested the Confederations of African Football (CAF) to postpone the tournament which was set for January next year, due to the Ebola epidemic, which CAF has turned a blind eye to.

Earlier reports revealed that South African Football Associations (SAFA) president Danny Jordaan is set to meet with the CAF boss Issa Hayatou to discuss a way forward as South Africa is set to replace the North African giants.

SAFA spokesperson Dominic Chimhavi told Sport24 in an exclusive interview on Wednesday that a decision is not final regarding the matter.

Chimhavi also hinted that South Africa is just being considered as a possible replacement, should the royal Moroccan Football Federation (FRMF) confirm their withdrawal.

“I can’t say we are going to host the tournament again next year,” Chimhavi said.

“This is what is happening, as we know that Morocco had requested to withdraw from hosting the tournament due to the widespread of a deadly Ebola virus.

“CAF just voiced South Africa as a possible destination to this challenge.

“But there are still lot of things to be considered before a final decision can be made.

“The president (Jordaan) and the NEC members will have a meeting to discuss a way forward regarding this, but CAF is considering South Africa because we are always ready to host major sporting events.

“We have the best infrastructure in the country but nothing has been confirmed.”

South Africa hosted the previous tournament in 2013 after being involved in a swap deal with Libya due to the political instabilities in their country, which led to the assassination of their President Maummar Gaddafi in 2011.

Initially, South African was supposed to host the competition in 2017.

It remains to be seen where the next AFCON will be played.


Source: Sport24

Pfizer approach to Actavis could be to circumvent US tax rules

Pfizer has approached Actavis about a deal that could allow the US drug maker to move its address overseas and reduce taxes, in a sign the Obama administration’s efforts to curtail inversions might fall short.


Pfizer made its approach before the US Treasury announced new rules on Monday to make such deals — called tax inversions — more difficult, people with knowledge of the matter said. Those changes will not deter Pfizer, even if they are a complication, one of the people said, asking not to be identified discussing private information.


Another high-profile inversion deal, Burger King Worldwide’s purchase of Tim Hortons, would proceed, the Canadian company said after the rule changes were revealed.


While Treasury Secretary Jacob J Lew could take further steps, he steered clear of ending a key benefit of inversions, which allow companies to lower their US earnings by shifting profits overseas using a technique known as earnings stripping.


“The ability to shelter future foreign earnings from US tax seems to be a principal objective and, as far as I can see, that benefit remains,” Robert Willens, a corporate tax consultant in New York, said on Wednesday.


While Pfizer is not just looking to cut taxes — it is also seeking to bolster its product pipeline — CEO Ian Read has made no secret of his objections to US tax policy.


“There’s no substantial advantage to being a US company, to doing business in the US,” he said on a July conference call. “We are at a tremendous competitive disadvantage.” Mr Read also said he was tired of criticism directed at companies and CEOs for doing what he says may be the best strategy to help shareholders.


Pfizer and Actavis were not in formal talks and Pfizer had not made an offer, the people said. The approach comes after Pfizer in May abandoned a $114bn bid for AstraZeneca.


Actavis, which is run from Parsippany, New Jersey, obtained an Irish tax domicile by acquiring Warner Chilcott last year. After its shares rose 2.2% this week, the company has a market value of almost $64bn.


Although AstraZeneca rebuffed Pfizer’s approach, the US drug giant was still considering pursuing that deal as well as other options, the people said. Representatives for Pfizer and Actavis declined to comment.


Presented under pressure from Democrats, and constrained by the strictures of the tax code, the Treasury’s plan sticks to areas where the administration has clear legal authority without needing approval from Congress. It mostly targets deals where the value of an inversion is derived from unlocking US companies’ stockpiled foreign earnings.


That stockpile, now exceeding $2-trillion, is a result of the fact that companies do not have to pay taxes on profits as long as they are kept outside of US borders.


Pfizer has indicated it has as much as $30bn in offshore cash and investments.


Still, the government did not address earnings stripping — a manoeuvre that companies use to load their US operations with deductions for debt and other items, effectively pushing the profits to the foreign country with a lower rate. “They’re ignoring the most important post-inversion planning, and that’s earnings stripping,” said Bret Wells, a tax law professor at the University of Houston.


Although the government may make more changes, “the tepid response that this represents could well embolden companies to believe that the Treasury is not going to deal with earnings stripping through regulations”.


Pfizer’s effort to acquire AstraZeneca was among a number of high-profile deals that have caught US legislators’ attention this year, prompting the Treasury’s response, including Burger King’s deal to buy Tim Hortons and move its address to Canada.


Source: Business Day Live