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from Breakingviews:

Now Dan Loeb, Sotheby’s director, has work cut out

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

Dan Loeb now has to help Sotheby’s catch Christie’s – not just blast its failure to do so. Christie’s on Tuesday threw down the gauntlet with a record $745 million contemporary art sale in New York. It’s one area of the business where Loeb has criticized Sotheby’s, which holds its rival auction on Wednesday.

Though the $2.8 billion Sotheby’s has been no slouch in fields like impressionist art and jewelry, it has lagged privately-held Christie’s in the all-important contemporary category. Last November’s big sales saw Christie’s raise $692 million – including a whopping $142 million for a Francis Bacon triptych – to blow away all previous single-sale records.

Sotheby’s only managed $381 million in response, despite snagging $105 million for one Andy Warhol. With this week’s blockbuster sale, including a top lot that set an $84 million artist record for Barnett Newman, the Sotheby’s arch-rival has upped the ante.

from Breakingviews:

Rival’s split makes it harder for Dow to resist

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

Andrew Liveris may find it harder to keep Dow Chemical together now that a smaller rival is planning to break up. The Dow boss has resisted activist hedge fund manager Dan Loeb’s campaign to split the $60 billion company into separate petro- and specialty chemicals groups. Competitor FMC’s decision to hive off its agriculture and pharma businesses from stodgier commodity minerals should create a more valuable company. The voluntary split makes it harder for Liveris to argue why he’s resisting activist pressure to do the same.

from Breakingviews:

Dan Loeb bids against himself at Sotheby’s

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

Dan Loeb seems to be bidding against himself at Sotheby’s. The Third Point hedge fund activist surprised the auctioneer by nominating three directors to run against the incumbents, even after the firm offered him one uncontested board seat and even acted on some of his gripes.

from Breakingviews:

Sotheby’s revamps financial science – now for art

By Richard Beales

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

Sotheby’s is revamping its financial science – now for the art. The auctioneer’s stock popped, at least initially, on Wednesday’s news of a $300 million special dividend and new criteria for investment. The plan addresses some aspects of the critique by activist investor Dan Loeb. But governance and broader strategy remain at issue.

from Breakingviews:

Loeb wrestles Sotheby’s over new art paradigm

By Richard Beales
Thea author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Dan Loeb is wrestling Sotheby’s over a new art paradigm. The Third Point founder reckons, essentially, that the listed auctioneer should be more like privately held arch-rival Christie’s. The $3.5 billion Sotheby’s, whose stock is up more than 40 percent over the past year, is hardly a basket-case. Its total auction sales increased 19 percent in 2013 to top $5 billion, outgrowing the larger Christie’s. Unusually for an activist investor – typically an analytical breed focused on the here and now – Loeb’s main beef with the company seems to be over the direction and pace of broad art market trends.

from Breakingviews:

Dan Loeb puts the right accelerant in Dow Chemical

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

Dan Loeb is putting the right accelerant into Dow Chemical. The $52 billion U.S. chemistry giant’s shares jumped more than 7 percent at one point on Jan. 21 after the activist investor called for a split of its petrochemicals and specialty chemicals businesses. Loeb may be overly optimistic about the financial benefits, but a rough sum-of-the-parts suggests merely breaking Dow up could boost its value by a fifth.

from Unstructured Finance:

Sotheby’s and a tale of two hedge fund managers

Hedge fund manager Steve Cohen’s reported plan to sell a number of valuable artworks may not only deliver a nice chunk of change for the Wall Street mogul, it may also provide gains for another rival manager.

Cohen is selling several high-profile artworks from his art collection, according to a story Monday in the New York Times, and he has given the task of selling the works to Sotheby's - the 269-year-old auction house currently in the firing line of activist Daniel Loeb.

from Breakingviews:

Dan Loeb’s Yahoo exit hurts investors twice over

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

Dan Loeb’s Yahoo exit hurts investors twice over. The Internet company is buying back two-thirds of the hedge fund mogul’s stake, owned by his firm Third Point, for $1.2 billion. That sucks up most of the cash Yahoo reserved for repurchases. It also heralds the departure of three Third Point-approved directors, robbing Yahoo of some much-needed advisers.

from Breakingviews:

Dan Loeb‘s breakup plan deserves Sony’s ear

By Peter Thal Larsen

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

Dan Loeb is taking Japan’s economic renaissance at face value: the hedge fund manager wants Sony to spin off its entertainment arm. Though activists rarely prevail in Japan, Loeb’s idea may have merits. The electronics giant should take him seriously.

from Breakingviews:

Herbalife: the ultimate financial plaything

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

Herbalife has become the ultimate financial plaything. Carl Icahn cemented the status by joining uppity investors Bill Ackman and Dan Loeb in the war over the nutritional supplements seller. One idea of his is for Herbalife to go private - again. The controversial business model and rich cash flow make it easy for Wall Street to keep imprinting fresh narratives on the company.

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