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from Breakingviews:

Three taboo-breaking deals offer hope for Japan

By Peter Thal Larsen
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Japan Inc is breaking some deep-rooted taboos. The country’s corporate establishment has long frowned on companies that succumb to foreign takeovers, offload non-core businesses, or leverage up for acquisitions. Three recent M&A deals suggest these strictures are no longer so tight. A freer form of capitalism may be taking hold in the land of the rising sun.

Start with cross-border takeovers. For decades, foreign companies could only hope to buy a Japanese counterpart if it was in financial distress. That is why the merger of Tokyo Electron with U.S. rival Applied Materials came as a shock. Though the Japanese semiconductor equipment maker is hardly on its knees, it emerged as the junior partner in an all-share deal.

Applied Materials did its utmost to sugar-coat the takeover pill. The combined company will keep a Japanese stock market listing, and both sides will nominate five directors to the combined group’s board, which Tokyo Electron’s current CEO will chair. Even so, a large Japanese company has done the previously unthinkable and voluntarily surrendered its economic independence to a foreign rival.

from Environment Forum:

Disasterology 4: Disaster Candy in Japan


For survivors of Superstorm Sandy in the U.S. Northeast, the Sendai tsunami in Japan and the massive earthquake in Chengdu, China, the scars of disaster are still palpable. I’m part of a group of journalists brought together by the East-West Center in Hawaii to see how the people and environments hit by these catastrophes are faring, one year,  two years and five years later. We began our tour on Sept. 29. Here are the other posts in the series:

A fair featuring cartoon frogs and rhinos, baskets of toys to trade and hands-on crafts might sound like the answer to a parent’s prayer on a rainy weekend. But this was a fair with a difference: the annual Bo-Sai Expo in Tokyo, an event meant to prepare young families for disaster.

from Environment Forum:

Disasterology 3: Learning to shout after the Fukushima disaster

For survivors of Superstorm Sandy in the U.S. Northeast, the Sendai tsunami in Japan and the massive earthquake in Chengdu, China, the scars of disaster are still palpable. I’m part of a group of journalists brought together by the East-West Center in Hawaii to see how the people and environments hit by these catastrophes are faring, one year,  two years and five years later. We began our tour on Sept. 29. Here are the other posts in the series:

On the afternoon of March 3, 2011, Japan’s public television network NHK was broadcasting a session of parliament live when warning chimes and a bulletin flashed across screens: “This is an earthquake early warning,” an announcer said. “Beware of a strong earthquake … The Tokyo studio is shaking right now.” When the picture switched to the studio, the announcer continued to speak in a calm voice. This was common practice, meant to avoid causing panic.

from Photographers' Blog:

The samurai and survivors of Fukushima

Fukushima, Japan

By Damir Sagolj

Shortly after the mandatory evacuation was announced on television, Fumio Okubo put on his best clothes and his daughter-in-law served up his favorite dinner. By morning, the 102-year-old was dead. He had hanged himself before dawn.

GALLERY: BROKEN LIVES OF FUKUSHIMA

A rope knitted from plastic bags is certainly not a tanto knife. Nor was his death a dramatic one, with the public in attendance and blood all around but what an old farmer did that morning recalls the act of a samurai in ancient times - to die with honor. Okubo, who was born and lived his entire life between Iitate's rice fields and cedar trees, wanted to die in his beautiful village, here and nowhere else.

from Full Focus:

Broken lives of Fukushima

Damir Sagolj, who covered the impact of the 2011 Sendai tsunami and the following Fukushima disaster returned to the region to document the lives of people who were impacted by the tragedy. Read Damir's personal account of what he witnessed inside the evacuation zone here.

from Breakingviews:

Tokyo Electron takeover is no template for Japan

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

Foreign acquirers have long-struggled to make headway in Japan. That makes Applied Material’s recent takeover of Tokyo Electron an interesting case study. The U.S. tech firm wooed its smaller rival with an all-stock merger and the promise of shared governance. However, the model may not work so easily elsewhere.

from Breakingviews:

An Abenomics lesson on politics for Uncle Sam

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

Two years ago, there was no gloomier place than Japan. The country was recovering from the horrific devastation of the Fukushima earthquake and tsunami. Fearful of radiation poisoning, Tokyoites were purchasing Geiger counters and eschewing vegetables. The government was a thicket of finger-pointing, evasion and paralysis.

from Breakingviews:

Bond-buying helps Japan’s banks more than economy

By Andy Mukherjee

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

The Bank of Japan’s bond-buying is proving to be more of a blessing for the country’s lenders than for the deflation-stricken economy. The central bank’s spending spree has allowed lenders to offload 12 percent of their holdings of government debt this year.

from Breakingviews:

M&A diplomacy features in $29 bln tech deal

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

Applied Materials and Tokyo Electron have showcased M&A diplomacy in their $29 billion deal. The U.S.-based producer of semiconductor-making equipment heeded local sensitivities and ceded governance duties in the proposed acquisition of its Japanese rival. At the same time, most of the financial benefits will accrue to its own shareholders. The merger is a delicate inauguration of Abenomics-style corporate reform.

from Breakingviews:

Japan’s bond market calm hides fiscal disquiet

By Andy Mukherjee

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

The calm in the Japanese government bond market is hiding growing fiscal disquiet. After briefly shooting up to 1 percent in May, yields on 10-year JGBs are back down to 0.74 percent, even as inflation expectations have firmed up. This Zen-like state of affairs is all the more striking considering that interest rates are increasing across the Western world as investors anticipate an end to the cheap money of the post-financial crisis era.

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