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May 19, 2011

Pandit’s new bonuses make mockery of $1 hair shirt

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

By Antony Currie

NEW YORK (Reuters Breakingviews) – The Citigroup boss’s financial crisis hair shirt wasn’t all it seemed. While the megabank was bleeding red ink and relying on U.S. taxpayer aid to survive, Chief Executive Vikram Pandit made the smart political move of taking only $1 a year in compensation until Citi returned to profitability. But now that has happened, his board is piling the largesse back on.

May 13, 2011
via Breakingviews

Self-help from Bill Rhodes easier read than done

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

By Antony Currie

It’s hard to quibble with what Bill Rhodes has accomplished. That much is obvious from the veteran banker’s career battling the world’s major financial crises. He reviews many of them in “Banker to the World,” a well-paced account of his 50 years in the business. He eschews a traditional memoir in favor of a more didactic approach: the book’s subtitle is “Leadership Lessons from the Front Lines of Global Finance.” But for all his strengths, Rhodes is no management guru.

May 3, 2011
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Fiat’s Marchionne gets auto deal of the century

By Antony Currie
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

It may not look it at first glance, but Fiat’s Sergio Marchionne may have engineered the auto deal of the century. When the Italian automaker agreed to take bankrupt Chrysler into its workshop two years ago, it looked like a relatively risk-free, if out-of-the-money, bet on a turnaround: the U.S. government gave Fiat management control and a 20 percent stake — since increased to 30 percent — for nothing. Had Detroit’s number three proved unsalvageable, Fiat would have lost little but time spent.

Apr 28, 2011
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Thain and Corzine redemption doesn’t come easy

By Antony Currie
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Jon Corzine and John Thain are in a long slog to revive their high-flying Wall Street careers. In early 2010, each of the two former Goldman Sachs partners took the reins at far smaller financial firms than their illustrious pasts would once have suggested. Corzine now runs agency broker MF Global, while Thain landed at mid-market lender CIT. The two have certainly made progress. But full rehabilitation looks a way off yet.

Apr 26, 2011
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What if there are no stock exchange mergers?

By Antony Currie
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

What if there are no stock exchange mergers? It’s hardly inconceivable. The Singapore-Australia deal already has been nixed. Some Canadian authorities consider the Toronto Stock Exchange operator TMX a strategic national asset. Many challenges still lie in wait for any NYSE Euronext deal, be it with Deutsche Boerse or Nasdaq OMX and IntercontinentalExchange. A worldwide veto would leave bosses for whom the answer was consolidation struggling with the same tough questions.

Apr 25, 2011
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New NYSE synergies deliver both good and bad news

By Antony Currie
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Deutsche Boerse and NYSE Euronext shouldn’t feel too proud of themselves for pulling $145 million more of cost cuts from their merger hat. The boost may allow the German exchange to sweeten its offer to help fend off a higher joint bid from Nasdaq OMX and IntercontinentalExchange. But it also suggests the NYSE and its partner grossly underestimated their aggressive rivals.

Apr 21, 2011
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Morgan Stanley deal redoubles pressure to improve

By Antony Currie
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Chalk one up for Morgan Stanley boss James Gorman. Persuading Mitsubishi UFJ Group to convert $7.8 billion of preferred stock into common shares early will save his bank almost $800 million a year in dividend payments and lift its common equity. It’s a smart and opportunistic move to offload the expensive capital that saved the Wall Street firm’s hide in the 2008 meltdown.

Apr 13, 2011
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Crisis winner tag does little for JPMorgan value

By Antony Currie
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

JPMorgan came through the financial crisis as a winner. And the bank’s $5.6 billion first-quarter profit reinforces its position as a market leader with strong risk management. But the tag has not done much for the bank’s valuation. At less than 10 times expected 2011 earnings, JPMorgan trades at a lower multiple than its big U.S. bank brethren.

Apr 11, 2011
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NYSE backs itself into uncomfortable corner

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

By Antony Currie

NYSE Euronext’s board has backed itself into an uncomfortable corner by rejecting out of hand Nasdaq and ICE’s $11.3 billion bid. The Big Board’s directors may be emphasizing strategy over price in saying the agreed, lower-priced deal with Deutsche Boerse still makes more sense. But shareholders probably aren’t as blinkered.

Apr 7, 2011
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Jefferies could yet turn into a Goldman — or a DLJ

By Antony Currie
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Jefferies keeps bucking the trend. As many of its larger Wall Street rivals pare operations, the relative minnow has been expanding. The question is whether the firm has the wherewithal to sustain the pace and become a Goldman Sachs in time, or if it will instead go the way of Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette.

    • About Antony

      "Antony Currie has more than a decade of experience as a financial journalist, having worked with Euromoney since 1996, most recently as a U.S. editor. He has worked on assignments in the major financial centers of Europe and the U.S. and written stories on capital markets, global economies and the investment banking industry. He holds a bachelor's degree in German language and literature and a master's degree in politics and international relations from the University of Bristol."
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