In Brief | Nation & World | 7-15-14


Growing number of US companies are looking to overseas combinations for tax relief back home

A growing number of U.S. companies are looking to trim their tax bills by combining operations with foreign businesses in a trend that may eventually cost the federal government billions of dollars in revenue.

Generic drugmaker Mylan Inc. said Monday it will become part of a new company organized in the Netherlands in a $5.3 billion deal to acquire some of Abbott Laboratories’ generic-drugs business. The deal is expected to lower Mylan’s tax rate to about 20 percent to 21 percent in the first full year and to the high teens after that.

The Canonsburg, Pennsylvania-company’s deal follows a path explored by several other U.S. drugmakers in recent months. AbbVie Inc. has entered talks with Shire Plc. over a roughly $53.68 billion deal that would lead to a lower tax rate and a company organized on the British island of Jersey.

But drugmakers aren’t the only companies looking overseas for better tax deals.

Last month, U.S. medical device maker Medtronic Inc. said that it had agreed to buy Ireland-based competitor Covidien for $42.9 billion in cash and stock. The combined company would have executive offices in Ireland, which has a 12.5 percent corporate income tax rate. And drugstore chain Walgreen Co. — which bills itself as “America’s premier pharmacy” — also is considering a similar move with Swiss health and beauty retailer Alliance Boots.

Got a rash? iPad, other electronic devices containing nickel might be the source, report says

CHICAGO — Unexplained rash? Check your iPad. It turns out the popular tablet computer may contain nickel, one of the most common allergy-inducing metals.

Recent reports in medical journals detail nickel allergies from a variety of personal electronic devices, including laptops and cellphones. But it was an Apple iPad that caused an itchy body rash in an 11-year-old boy recently treated at a San Diego hospital, according to a report in Monday’s Pediatrics.

Nickel rashes aren’t life-threatening but they can be very uncomfortable, and they may require treatment with steroids and antibiotics if the skin eruptions become infected, said Dr. Sharon Jacob, a dermatologist at Rady Children’s Hospital, where the boy was treated. Jacob, who co-wrote the report, said the young patient had to miss school because of the rash.

The boy discussed in the Pediatrics report had a common skin condition that causes scaly patches, but he developed a different rash all over his body that didn’t respond to usual treatment. Skin testing showed he had a nickel allergy, and doctors traced it to an iPad his family had bought in 2010.

Doctors tested the device and detected a chemical found in nickel in the iPad’s outside coating.

Kerry, Zarif struggle for progress on nuclear talks amid newly complex US-Iranian relations

VIENNA — The top U.S. and Iranian diplomats searched Monday for a breakthrough in nuclear talks, their efforts complicated by crises across the Middle East and beyond that have Washington and Tehran aligned in some places but often opposed.

The state of U.S.-Iranian relations was adding a new wrinkle to the long negotiation aimed at curbing the Islamic republic’s uranium and plutonium programs.

While the two sides are arguably fighting proxy wars in Israel, Gaza and Syria, they’re talking cooperation in Iraq and Afghanistan. And, perhaps in a first, the nuclear matter is battling for full attention.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif spoke for about two hours around midday Monday, the second day of talks in Vienna. They gathered again in the afternoon, hoping to make progress before Sunday’s initial deadline for a comprehensive nuclear agreement. An extension of the deadline is possible, though there are opponents of that idea on both sides.

“We are in the middle of talks about nuclear proliferation and reining in Iran’s program,” Kerry told U.S. Embassy staff in Vienna during a break in the conversations. “It is a really tough negotiation.”

By wire sources