Agnes's Feed
May 10, 2012
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Coty’s freshened offer hard for Avon to resist

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By Agnes T. Crane

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are her own.

Coty is making its advances harder for Avon Products to resist. The European fragrance maker has given the down-in-the-dumps U.S. makeup firm until Monday to engage in discussions. But Coty has raised its offer to $10.7 billion, added Warren Buffett’s cash and blessing, and hinted at the possibility of a still higher price – while Avon is, if anything, looking weaker.

May 6, 2012
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Buffett Rule divides Berkshire Hathaway faithful

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By Agnes T. Crane 

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are her own.

Warren Buffett has built a career on finding value. And insurance-focused Berkshire Hathaway excels at calculated risks. But the ideological divide over a politically charged tax plan with Buffett’s name on it that marred Saturday’s annual shareholder love-fest this year suggests a temporary lapse when it comes to those two virtues. The Buffett Rule may be an unexpected liability for Berkshire.

May 2, 2012
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Nerds may get revenge on Woodstock of Capitalism

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By Agnes T. Crane
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are her own.

This year’s Woodstock of Capitalism could turn into the revenge of the nerds. For the first time in the history of the closely watched annual gathering of Berkshire Hathaway shareholders, financial analysts have been invited to pepper Warren Buffett with questions in front of the 35,000 or so who will gather for the event. It’s the latest sign that times may be a-changin’ for the company.

May 1, 2012
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Monster shouldn’t be Coke’s tipple of choice

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By Agnes T. Crane
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are her own.

Coca-Cola is more than a century old, but it wants to be hip. Even so, the company says it’s not about to buy energy-drink maker Monster Beverages, as a Wall Street Journal report suggested. That sounds mature – in a good way – even if Coke did leave the door open to build on its existing distribution relationship with Monster.

Apr 26, 2012
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Watchdogs coming up short on ETF risks

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By Agnes T. Crane
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are her own.Watchdogs are still coming up short on dealing with the risks of exchange-traded funds. It’s heartening to see one of them, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, going after brokers for mis-selling complicated variants of ETFs. But investors need more protection earlier on in the process.

Most of the $1.7 trillion ETF market remains relatively straightforward. They offer a simple solution to a simple problem, allowing retail investors who just want index returns a vehicle that can be traded just like any other stock.

Apr 20, 2012
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GE offers Citi starting point for fixing CEO pay

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By Agnes Crane and Antony Currie
The authors are Reuters Breakingviews columnists. The opinions expressed are their own.

All is not lost for Vikram Pandit. While a majority of Citigroup shareholders voted against the chief executive’s pay package at this week’s annual meeting, there’s still a way to incentivize him while also benefiting investors. General Electric, which faced similar unrest over pay last year, offers a good starting point.

Apr 11, 2012
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Coty will need to up its Avon game

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By Agnes T. Crane
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are her own.Coty is going to need a bigger ring. Avon Products has rejected its $10 billion marriage approach, and the company this week hired a formidable new chief executive, Sheri McCoy. That rams home the point that Avon would rather go it alone than sell itself short. A new Breakingviews calculator shows just how much bigger Coty’s proffered engagement ring could be.

Coty, the maker of fragrances like Baby Phat, indicated it was willing to pay $23.25 a share, a 20 percent premium over Avon’s beaten-down stock price the Friday before the offer was made public. Avon’s shares have traded much higher even in the past year. The emergence of another possible suitor – privately-held U.S. investment firm Richmont Holdings, whose founder tried to take over Avon in the 1980s, is interested, according to Fortune – could mean even more pressure on Coty to raise its bid.

Apr 5, 2012
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Why is IBM even sponsoring the Masters?

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By Agnes T. Crane
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are her own.Golf and business often mix well. But Augusta National Golf Club, which hosts the famed Masters tournament, staunchly remains an all-boys club. That conflicts with the diversity aims of tournament sponsor International Business Machines. The difficulty is particularly noticeable this year, given the gender of the technology company’s new chief executive, Virginia Rometty.

As a private organization, Augusta can do what it likes. But with the financial logic for sponsorship fuzzy anyway, the club’s policy raises serious questions for IBM and the other big Masters sponsors, AT&T and Exxon Mobil. IBM, for one, talks about all its business, social and recreational activities being conducted without discrimination of any kind.

Apr 2, 2012
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Avon’s hapless board opened door to Coty’s bid

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By Agnes T. Crane and Rob Cox
The authors are Reuters Breakingviews columnists. The opinions expressed are their own.

Coty needs another dash of powder to win over Avon shareholders with its $10 billion bid. But thanks to years of flawed stewardship by the iconic American cosmetics group’s board and management, attracting Avon’s shareholders shouldn’t be impossible for the privately-held maker of Playboy and Chupa Chups fragrances. It just needs to be more creative to seal the deal.

Mar 30, 2012

New financial watchdogs won’t thrill Wall Street

By Daniel Indiviglio and Agnes T. Crane

WASHINGTON/NEW YORK, March 30 (Reuters Breakingviews) -
C ongress has finally given the nod to some of President Obama’s
appointees to the FDIC and OCC. None of the fresh faces is
likely to rock the boat much. But one of the banks’ stronger
supporters is now gone and the new guard has little reason to
push back against Dodd-Frank.

Full view will be published shortly.

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