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from Breakingviews:

Anarchical Vice Media makes orthodoxy a virtue

By Jeffrey Goldfarb

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

Vice Media likes to seem anarchic, but it is making a virtue of some industry orthodoxies. The Brooklyn-based bad boy of news and entertainment is now valued at $2.5 billion. The sources of Vice’s money and the way it was raised, though, suggest old-school traits alongside the iconoclasm.

A gonzo style of journalism has enabled Vice to get younger people interested in global current events. The draws include stunts such as dispatching retired basketball misfit Dennis Rodman to North Korea as well as documentary-format reports on Ukraine and Syria. Vice’s fashion site includes headlines like “This stab-proof clothing aims to keep Medellin safe,” while its foodie endeavor explains how “Gaza’s Christians are brewing illegal wine in defiance of Hamas.”

With traditional TV outlets like CNN, Fox News and MSNBC catering to audiences with a median age of at least 60, Vice’s fountain of youth is alluring. Time Warner the parent company of CNN, already broadcasts a Vice series on HBO, its cable network. Last year, Rupert Murdoch’s Twenty-First Century Fox bought a 5 percent stake for $70 million.

The latest fundraising shows that Vice also values its elders. One $250 million investment from Technology Crossover Ventures will help Vice improve its mobile presence. Another $250 million, however, comes from A&E Networks, a Disney-Hearst joint venture that owns the niche History and Lifetime networks. While web programming may be the future, traditional TV is still where the money is – and Vice wants a channel of its own.

from Breakingviews:

Home Depot hack scarier than Hollywood breach

By Richard Beales

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

It’s no surprise that stolen nude photos of Jennifer Lawrence attract more attention than a nerdy report on Home Depot’s security breach. But it’s an unfortunate reality that Hollywood celebrities need to guard their privacy, whether threatened by paparazzi or hackers. Corporate breaches that expose millions of people to financial loss are, on the other hand, in a different league.

With Home Depot, it’s not yet clear what the scale of any hacking may have been, or whether the company’s systems were violated despite strong defenses. But security blogger Brian Krebs said he had received information suggesting the Home Depot episode could be larger than last year’s hack of Target. That attack, which he first publicized, exposed the credit card data of at least 40 million customers.

from Breakingviews:

Vivendi boosts shareholder credentials in GVT sale

By Fiona Maharg-Bravo and Neil Unmack

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

Vincent Bolloré, Vivendi’s chairman, is doing right by his shareholders. The French media group says it has entered exclusive talks with Telefonica on the Spanish group’s 7.5 billion euro bid for its Brazilian business GVT. The French conglomerate spurned a lower bid from Telecom Italia. It might have squeezed a bit more from Telefonica, but has chosen the surest exit. That leaves rival bidder TI facing an uncertain future.

from Breakingviews:

Alibaba deal spree turns from romance to thriller

By John Foley 

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

Alibaba’s investment story has turned from romance to thriller. Its Hong Kong movie-making affiliate has uncovered “possibly non-compliant” accounting just four months after the Chinese e-commerce giant bought a 60 percent stake. It’s not clear whether Alibaba’s controls were flawed – but it certainly raises questions about the value of the company’s recent investment binge.

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 Counterparties:

MORNING BID – Once Upon a Dream

Disney is expected to report third-quarter results after market close and is likely to beat average analyst estimates, according to StarMine. The media company's results could get a boost from "Maleficent", its revisionist take on "Sleeping Beauty" featuring Angelina Jolie, but the company’s prowess doesn’t end there, not with “Captain America: Winter Soldier” also a box-office champ in 2014 – which was also released during its most recent reporting period.

The studio budget for Maleficent was said to be somewhere around $180 million, so it’s not as if this was a cheap one, but consider that it posted worldwide grosses of $727 million, ranking it third for 2014, with the fourth-place film being Captain America (which cost $170 million), and also came through through Disney’s Buena Vista studios, per BoxOfficeMojo data.

from Breakingviews:

French T-Mo bid looks like peak TMT Entrepreneur

Quentin Webb

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

TMT-men are the superheroes of finance today. A market boom has let telecoms, media and technology dealmakers such as John Malone of Liberty Global and Masayoshi Son of SoftBank finance ever-bigger dreams. Xavier Niel, the billionaire behind French telecoms group Iliad, is now bidding $15 billion in cash for 56.6 percent of T-Mobile US, listed but two-thirds owned by Deutsche Telekom. Maybe this idea should have stayed in the lab.

from Breakingviews:

StanChart at risk of “doing an HSBC” – badly

By George Hay

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

Standard Chartered STAN.L is doing a passable impression of HSBC circa 2010. The UK-based emerging markets bank has told investors that it does not accept “media rumours” concerning the future of Chairman John Peace and Chief Executive Peter Sands. The parallels with HSBC’s succession planning four years ago – a crisis that culminated in the dual departures of chairman and CEO amid a boardroom power struggle – are worrying.

from Breakingviews:

Internet ads add up for China’s party mouthpiece

By Katrina Hamlin

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

Xinhuanet is an investment rarity: an online media group that is both fast-growing and profitable.  Booming advertising revenue is propelling the digital arm of China’s state-owned news agency Xinhua towards an initial public offering that could value it at close to $1 billion. Its success doesn’t depend on headlines or scoops, but on being the Communist Pary’s main mouthpiece.

from Breakingviews:

AT&T puts shareholders on hold for DirecTV

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

AT&T is putting its shareholders on hold to buy DirecTV. Its $67 billion acquisition of the satellite TV operator announced on Sunday brings with it an unexpectedly robust $1.6 billion of cost savings. Even so, these don’t quite cover the cost of the premium. In any case, AT&T says it will use the money to roll out rural broadband service. Customers and regulators are getting the first call.

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