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from Breakingviews:

Alibaba payments cleanup makes for neater IPO

By Peter Thal Larsen

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

Alibaba just can’t stop tinkering with its corporate structure. Weeks before the Chinese e-commerce juggernaut is due to start a roadshow for an initial public offering, it has tidied up relations with its payments affiliate. Though the new arrangement is still messier than shareholders might want, it should make for a neater IPO.

Alibaba’s relationship with Alipay is complex and sensitive. The unit processes more than three-quarters of the transactions on the Chinese group’s websites, but has been owned by a private vehicle controlled by founder Jack Ma since 2011. That business, known as Small and Micro Financial Services Company (SMFSC), is also home to other ventures like its fast-growing money market funds. For customers, the units connect seamlessly. The corporate links are more complicated.

The latest reshuffle aims to draw a clearer line between the two entities. Alibaba will focus on e-commerce, while SMFSC will stick to finance. As part the deal, Alibaba is handing its affiliate a portfolio of loans to small- and medium-sized enterprises. The transfer helps to reduce the risk of meddling by Chinese financial regulators.

from Breakingviews:

Behold the unversion: an inversion in all but name

By Jeffrey Goldfarb

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

Behold the unversion. U.S.-based data protection firm SafeNet may very well be able to slash its tax rate as part of a cross-border deal. Instead of doing so by acquiring an overseas company – a move known as an inversion – it is selling itself for $890 million to Dutch digital security outfit Gemalto. The deal shows the limitations of a possible U.S. government ban on inversions.

from Breakingviews:

Gannett split puts digital on wrong side of divide

By Jeffrey Goldfarb

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

Gannett is redefining the digital divide. The media conglomerate unveiled plans on Tuesday to spin off newspapers, including USA Today, to showcase the value of its broadcasting operations. At the same time, the company will take control of the parent of Cars.com, paying $1.8 billion for the 73 percent it doesn’t already own. Instead of using that online asset to buffer the weaker half, however, Gannett is forcing print to stand on its own.

from Breakingviews:

Yahoo’s Mayer nears post-Alibaba reckoning

By Richard Beales

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

Yahoo is a big company with a much smaller one struggling to get out. A 22.5 percent stake in Alibaba accounts for well over half the U.S. internet group’s roughly $36 billion market capitalization, according to a new Breakingviews calculator. With the Chinese e-commerce giant likely to go public next month, Yahoo Chief Executive Marissa Mayer will find out how investors value the businesses she actually runs.

from Breakingviews:

Line’s $13 bln valuation shows chat app exuberance

By Robyn Mak and Una Galani

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

Line’s apparent $13 billion valuation sends a strong signal about chat app exuberance. The Japanese mobile messaging app’s quarterly revenue jumped 26 percent from the previous three months, its parent company reported on July 31. That pushes up valuation expectations ahead of its planned initial public offering. Yet Line’s valuation hangs on the assumption that new overseas users will spend like those back home. That seems like wishful thinking.

from Breakingviews:

The perks and pitfalls of depending on Jack Ma

By John Foley 

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

Buy a share in Alibaba and you place your trust in Jack Ma. The Chinese e-commerce giant’s founder, executive chairman and spiritual sultan will remain a controlling force even after the company completes its massive initial public offering later this year. The $100 billion-plus question for prospective shareholders is whether they can depend on him to always act in their best interests.

from Edward Hadas:

Google and the right to be forgotten

The public has a right to know. Individuals have a right to privacy. The common good is served by both these contradictory statements, so someone has to decide how to balance them when they come into conflict. When it comes to internet search, the European Union’s Court of Justice has given the job to search engine providers such as Google. In a way, that’s a good call.

The court decided in May that some internet links deserve to be “forgotten” because certain data can over time become “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant”. The search operators were held responsible, in the first instance, for judging whether to grant requests to remove links.

from Breakingviews:

Supercharged IPO tax spoils need splitting

By Robert Cyran

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

Initial public offerings that generate extra tax spoils are in the spotlight. KKR and Silver Lake are listing web hosting company GoDaddy, three years after buying it for $2.25 billion. The use of what’s called an “Up-C” structure means the company will float with big potential tax deductions on its books. In GoDaddy’s case, investors and sponsors will both benefit. But other IPOs with Up-Cs have seen more dubious arrangements.

from The Great Debate:

Why urban myths like Slenderman have become more deadly

Slenderman (2)

The Internet doesn’t just help suspend disbelief. It rolls right over it.

Exhibit A: Two 12-year-old girls from Waukesha, Wisconsin, charged with attempted murder for stabbing a friend 19 times and leaving her for dead. (She miraculously survived.) They appeared in court Wednesday.

The savage crime attracted international attention not only because of the age of the alleged perpetrators and the barbarity of the deed but also for something far more bizarre. The stabbing was apparently triggered by an Internet-generated fictional character named “Slenderman,” a sepulchral figure with long tentacles who kidnaps children and, by the girls’ accounts, requires acolytes to commit murder to be admitted to his realm. In trying to kill their friend, the girls said, they were attempting to appease the Slenderman so they could join him.

from Breakingviews:

Solving the second-class stock conundrum

By Rob Cox

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

Over dinner in San Francisco recently, an activist investor and an internet entrepreneur got into a heated discussion. The two men, with a gap of about two decades between them, were debating the practice of many young, growth businesses in the technology world – though it happens elsewhere too – to issue multiple classes of stock, generally one for hoi polloi investors in public offerings and another for founders and other insiders with super-charged voting powers.

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