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from Breakingviews:

Bayer’s plastic float sows seeds for one more sale

By Quentin Webb

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

Bayer’s plastic float could sow the seeds for another sale. Investors added more than $5 billion to the German blue-chip’s $114 billion market capitalisation on Sept. 18, after it unveiled plans to float MaterialScience, its capital-intensive plastics and polymers business. Once again, investors are rewarding a company for adopting a sharper focus. A logical follow-up for Bayer Chief Executive Marijn Dekkers would be to quit agrochemicals and create a pure healthcare business.

It’s unclear if this will be a straight spinoff to existing shareholders or a flotation, introducing new owners. Either way, this will be more about market perception than fundamental change to the underlying business. Investors currently prize focus over diversity. That is prompting everyone from miners to media groups and food companies to slim down. In time, the reward should be a richer stock-market valuation, although Bayer already trades on a fairly rich 16.1 times forward earnings.

The low-margin MaterialScience certainly sits oddly within Bayer. It contributed just 12 percent of the parent’s 8.4 billion euros in adjusted EBITDA last year, yet gobbled up 26 percent of capital expenditure and the same share of R&D. This is a cyclical, over-supplied industry, and the unit does not cover its cost of capital. On Bayer’s preferred measure, “cash flow return on investment,” the unit returned 5.5 percent in 2013, against a capital cost of 6.9 percent. Bayer says this should be fixed by 2016.

from Edward Hadas:

A holistic economics of healthcare

By Edward Hadas

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

Every country in the world seems to have a healthcare crisis. The problems are particularly severe in rich and ageing countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom, where expectations are especially high and the systems were designed for a different reality. A new report from The King’s Fund, a British charity, suggests a better approach.

from Breakingviews:

Roche’s $8 bln bet outsmarts ice-bucket challenge

By Robert Cyran

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

Roche’s latest $8 billion bet may outsmart the ice-bucket challenge. Dumping cold water on heads, the social-media phenomenon now boosting research on Lou Gehrig’s disease or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), is a great way to raise charitable cash. But the drug made by Roche’s target, InterMune, treats an obscure yet equally fatal disease with more sufferers.

from Breakingviews:

Review: Paul Ryan changes delivery but not direction

By Stephanie Rogan

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

Paul Ryan has written a book, just like Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama before him. Unlike those of his Democratic rivals, though, the U.S. congressman and former vice presidential candidate’s is less memoir than campaign manifesto. Ryan’s fiscal prescriptions are familiar, but it’s also obvious he is trying to find a broader audience for them. Though it’s tempting to dismiss “The Way Forward” as just the musings of another presidential wannabe, the book’s title probably accurately reflects the notion that its contents will guide the Republican strategy in the years to come.

from Expert Zone:

A call to action to galvanize momentum around maternal, child health in India

(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters)

The last decade has witnessed one of the most sincere, dedicated and coordinated efforts toward addressing global development and healthcare challenges. National and international policymakers, development partners and researchers have come together to work toward a common vision of a better and healthier world.

In September 2000, building upon a decade of dialogue, world leaders unanimously adopted the United Nations Millennium Declaration. In doing so, they committed to a new global partnership to reduce extreme poverty and laid out a series of time-bound targets with a deadline of 2015 that have come to be known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

from The Great Debate:

You don’t need that annual pelvic exam. So why is your doctor giving you one?

 To match feature DOCTORS-DUMMIES/

In June, the American College of Physicians (ACP) reported what many doctors have known for years: There is little justification for the widespread practice of the annual pelvic exam. In its clinical guidelines, the physicians group recommended against performing the exams for non-pregnant women who don’t have pelvic pain or other symptoms that suggest a gynecologic problem. These guidelines do not apply to Pap smears for cervical cancer screening, for which there is strong evidence for their continued use. They apply to the pelvic exam, where the clinician first uses a speculum to perform an internal exam, and then with his or her hands, feels for pelvic organs.

The guidelines are based on an extensive review of nearly 70 years’ worth of studies looking at the benefits and harms of the annual pelvic exam. After decades of research, the studies don’t show any benefits to performing this annual exam. When surveyed, many doctors said that they do the pelvic exam to screen for ovarian cancer, yet the review found that the pelvic exam could not effectively detect ovarian cancer, nor reduce deaths from it. Nor did the exams reduce deaths from non-ovarian and non-cervical cancers.

from Stories I’d like to see:

How much is contraception coverage and costly violations for BNP Paribas

justices

1. Does health insurance covering contraception actually cost anything?

In this article about a renewed fight at the U.S. Supreme Court just days after its decision about whether the owners of the Hobby Lobby retail chain had to buy insurance covering certain forms of contraception, the New York Times’ ace court reporter Adam Liptak wrote:

The majority opinion there, written by Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., seemed to suggest that the forms could play a role in an arrangement that was an acceptable alternative to having employers pay for the coverage. Under the arrangement, insurance companies that receive the forms pay for the coverage on the theory that it costs no more to provide contraception than to pay for pregnancies.

from India Insight:

Budget 2014: Wishlist from healthcare sector

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government has its work cut out if it wants to transform the country's health system and provide a universal health insurance programme.

India has just 0.7 doctors per 1,000 people, and 80 percent of this workforce is in urban areas serving 30 percent of the population, according to industry lobby group NATHEALTH.

from The Great Debate UK:

Rogue private healthcare requires government action

--Ali Malsher is a clinical negligence partner in law firm Anthony Gold and a former nurse. The opinions expressed are her own.--

The private healthcare sector is booming. Cut backs in the NHS mean more people are taking out health insurance and looking to private hospitals to provide their care.

from Breakingviews:

Tax-arbitrage M&A requires a deep discount

By Robert Cyran

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

Tax-arbitrage M&A requires a deep discount. U.S. companies seeking to relocate by mergers in a bid to slash how much they remit to Uncle Sam were a big part of the $1.8 trillion first-half deal boom. The benefits of such ill-conceived combinations will be fleeting, though. The more so-called inversions there are, the more likely the law is to change.

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