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from Breakingviews:

Lenovo-BlackBerry bid could squish under pressure

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By John Foley and Ethan Bilby

The authors are Reuters Breakingviews columnists. The opinions expressed are their own.

Lenovo is wading into the BlackBerry jam. The Chinese technology group has gained access to the books of the Canadian smartphone seller, which is already considering a $4.7 billion approach from shareholder Fairfax Financial Holdings. If it chose to bid, Lenovo would have to do better than the current offer of $9 per share, and overcome more obstacles.

The foundering BlackBerry has three main assets. Patents, which Lenovo might want; handsets, which it probably doesn’t; and enterprise services, which it almost certainly can’t have.

The patents might help Lenovo expand its smartphone division in the West, where it makes just 5 percent of its sales, according to Gartner. BlackBerry’s $2 billion or so portfolio of patents, as valued by analysts, won’t attract users directly, but they would protect Lenovo from costly infringement suits.

from Breakingviews:

BBVA makes painful withdrawal from Chinese bank

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By Fiona Maharg-Bravo
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are her own.

BBVA is learning the Chinese art of saving face. The Spanish lender has attributed its sale of a 5 percent stake in China’s CITIC Bank to new Basel capital rules. Yet while the deal will add 2.4 billion euros to BBVA’s capital, it hardly sugarcoats a 2.3 billion euro writedown on the value of its stake. Basel may have provided a graceful way to reduce an underwhelming investment.

from Unstructured Finance:

Hedge fund manager Hempton on Herbalife

John Hempton is bullish on Herbalife but bearish on coal

By Jennifer Ablan and Matthew Goldstein

Hedge fund manager and frequent blogger John Hempton is a little bit like the Jim Chanos of Australia.

Over the years, he’s been a fairly prescient short seller. For instance he was an early skeptic on computer giant Hewlett Packard and travel services company Universal Travel Group, which recently agreed to pay nearly $1 billion to settle a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission lawsuit alleging that the company defrauded investors by failing to disclose the transfer of $41 million from stock offerings to unknown parties in China.

from Breakingviews:

Debt deal may encourage Asia’s dollar craving

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By Andy Mukherjee

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

Washington’s last-minute deal on raising the U.S. government’s debt ceiling made grim viewing for Asian central banks. It’s the second time in two years they have faced anguish over the safety of their enormous U.S. government bond holdings. But even with an agreement to raise the ceiling until Feb. 7, and default averted, the harrowing experience is unlikely to turn America’s largest creditor group into a bunch of angry sellers. They may in fact do the opposite, and buy more.

from The Edgy Optimist:

The benefits of a ‘de-Americanized world’

This current bout of Washington inanity is approaching its denouement, but however it ends, it has accelerated a trend that has been gathering steam for at least the last five years: the move away from a Washington-centric world and towards a new, undefined, but decidedly less American global system.

The latest broadside was the widely disseminated editorial in China’s state-run news agency Xinhua, which called for a “de-Americanized world” that no longer depends on the dollar and is thus no longer at the whim of “intensifying domestic political turmoil in the United States.” That follows on the heels of a Vladimir Putin’s op-ed in the New York Times in which he called out the American tendency to see itself as an exceptional, indispensable nation. “It is extremely dangerous,” Putin concluded, “to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation.”

from Breakingviews:

Thai mogul emerges on top in supermarket swap

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By Una Galani

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

Thailand’s richest man has emerged on top in a Chinese supermarket swap. Dhanin Chearavanont, whose conglomerate picked up a stake in insurer Ping An and acquired cash-and-carry group Siam Makro earlier this year, is offloading the bulk of his loss-making retail operations in China in return for shares in local rival Wumart Stores. Both sides benefit from the deal worth HK2.9 billion ($373 million) but Dhanin is ahead by an aisle.

from Breakingviews:

Guest column: Why China’s bad banks are a bad idea

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By Joe Zhang

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

At the end of the 1990s, China’s banks faced a rising tide of bad debts, and Beijing came to the rescue. Financial insiders still see that move as necessary, wise and courageous. On the contrary, bailing out the banks was a bad idea. It would be a mistake to repeat the trick.

from Breakingviews:

Britain can gain from China’s empire builders

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By John Foley

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

Britain once had nothing to offer China but silver and opium. Now it has holidays, banks and building sites. George Osborne, the UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, and London’s mayor Boris Johnson are using visits to Beijing to say just how welcoming the UK is likely to be. It’s a triumph of openness, and provided the UK chooses its partners carefully and the Chinese are tactful, both sides will benefit.

from Breakingviews:

Cooper-Apollo spat forces investors to pick lanes

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By Una Galani and Peter Thal Larsen

The authors are Reuters Breakingviews columnists. The opinions expressed are their own.

Investors in Cooper Tire & Rubber are being forced to pick lanes. Legal wrangles have put Apollo Tyres’ agreed $2.5 billion offer for its U.S. rival in doubt, and tensions at its China joint venture have undermined Cooper’s value. But a negotiated price reduction still looks possible. Cooper shares may be pricing in too much bad news.

from The Great Debate:

Looking to diplomacy with Iran

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President Barack Obama has decided to test whether Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s “charm offensive” is a legitimate effort to reach an agreement on a more constricted and transparent Iranian nuclear program. With this decision, he embarks on the most transformative and important diplomatic initiative of his presidency.

The closest historical analogy is President Richard M. Nixon’s opening to China in 1971. Nixon had recognized a major adversary’s new willingness to change course and he seized the opportunity to further vital U.S. national security interests.

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