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Reuters blog archive

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.

It’s easy to see why StanChart felt the need to respond to a Financial Times report that Peace was preparing to find a replacement for Sands, which would be a share price-sensitive event. Moreover, a big regulated bank cannot cope for long with perceptions of boardroom division, hence StanChart's comment that the board is fully behind the present chairman and CEO.

But the move makes the board look rattled, and adds to the pressure on everyone involved. Such stress can soon become unbearable for a leadership team. In 2010, HSBC dismissed reports that CEO Mike Geoghegan had threatened to resign as “nonsense” – only for him to leave soon after.

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.

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.

from Breakingviews:

Alibaba triangular dealmaking adds to IPO quirks

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

Powerful insiders are the norm in internet companies. Alibaba’s tie-up with a digital TV company adds an extra twist. The Chinese e-commerce group, which is planning a U.S. listing, has signed a three-step deal with China’s Wasu Media that looks a little too clever for comfort.

from Felix Salmon:

Wonkonomics

My article on the wonk bubble, at Politico, came out not only at the same time as the launch of Vox.com, but also, coincidentally, with the release of comments from both Michael Wolff and Marty Baron on the same subject.

Baron is much more constructive and optimistic than Wolff, but he shares with Wolff a certain skepticism when it comes to what Ezra Klein, in particular, is doing. It’s worth quoting Baron at some length:

from Felix Salmon:

Michael Lewis’s high-speed journalism

My full review of Flash Boys is now up at Slate. Tl;dr: he’s right for the wrong reasons. HFT is a bad thing, but not because it rips off small investors.

There’s a separate question worth asking, though: why is this book weaker than Lewis’s other books?

from Felix Salmon:

Against beautiful journalism

Have you seen that site's gorgeous new redesign? Every article has a nice big headline, huge photos, loads of white space, intuitive and immersive scrolling, super-wide column widths -- everything you need to make the copy truly sing.

I'm over it.

Part of this is because I have a long-standing soft spot for ugly. It's easy, of course, for a web page to become too messy, too noisy -- especially when the mess and the noise is mostly ad-related. On the other hand, I grew up in a culture where today's journalism is tomorrow's fish-and-chips wrapper, and where in general journalism isn't taken nearly as seriously as it is in the US. That's healthy, in many ways, and it encourages a lightness of touch, as well as a gleeful let's-try-everything approach, and a general feeling that the publisher won't be offended if you stop reading this and start reading that instead.

from Felix Salmon:

Trish Regan, Einhorn apologist

Ever since the story first broke, more than five weeks ago, that David Einhorn was suing Seeking Alpha, the Israeli financial website has been very, very quiet on the topic. Sometimes they have simply failed to respond at all to requests for comment (including mine); other times, as with Andrew Ross Sorkin, a spokesman will formally decline to comment.

So it was a big deal when Seeking Alpha president David Siegel appeared on Bloomberg TV today, and answered Trish Regan’s questions about the Einhorn lawsuit. Or, at least, it would have been a big deal, if Regan had actually bothered to ask him any of the obvious questions. Like, for instance, whether he’s going to fight it, or what he thinks of the merits of the case.

from Jack Shafer:

It’s an ad, ad, ad, ad world

The last place you'd expect to discover a map to navigate the future of the content-advertising landscape would be a book about the golden age of radio. But damn it all to hell, there it is on the concluding 12 pages of Cynthia B. Meyers' new book, A Word From Our Sponsor: Admen, Advertising, and the Golden Age of Radio.

Not to discourage you from reading Meyers' first 281 pages about the co-evolution of broadcasting and advertising before excavating her new media insights, but this is one of those books that demands to be read backwards -- conclusion first, historical arguments and research later. In Meyers' view, advertising is not something appended to radio and TV broadcasts or shimmied into the pages of newspapers and magazines. Advertising has been both the dog wagging the tail and the tail wagging the dog, sometimes occupying points in between, its symbiotic relationship with popular media forever ebbing and cresting. And while the past never predicts the future, this book gives readers a peak around the media future's corner.

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