Reuters blog archive
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.
The Wall Street Journal has launched a new video application "WSJ Live" that pulls from the content from its stable of live programming.
WSJ Live is another push from the Journal into video programming -- which represents some of its most valuable advertising inventory, said Alisa Bowen, general manager of the Wall Street Journal Digital Network. Ad inventory on the video network has been sold out and WSJ Live is free to watch on WSJ.com. That is part of the reason that the Journal plans to keep WSJ Live free of charge, unlike some of its other content, but that could change in the future, Bowen said.
Japan's Panasonic Corp forecast on Monday its full-year operating profit would drop 11 percent to 270 billion yen ($3.4 billion) in the year to March 2012, after the earthquake and tsunami in northern Japan hit production and sales. Like many of its rivals, Panasonic delayed its profit forecast due to lack of clarity about the effects of the quake.
Facebook's U.S. advertising revenue will total roughly $2.2 billion in 2011, displacing Yahoo Inc to collect the biggest slice of online display advertising dollars, according to a new study. Facebook's U.S. advertising revenue will give it a 17.7 percent share of the market for graphical display ads that appear on websites, according to a report released on Monday by research firm eMarketer.
Microsoft reported a dip in quarterly sales of its core Windows operating system, mirroring a recent downturn in personal computers. The world's largest software company met Wall Street profit estimates, as strong sales of its Office suite of applications and game systems took up the slack. "Microsoft to me is no longer a growth stock but it is a very attractive value stock. They continue to generate tremendous free cash flow. Their balance sheet is really unmatched," Channing Smith of Capital Advisors said.
Sony could face legal action across the globe after it delayed disclosing a security breach of its popular PlayStation Network, infuriating gamers and sending the firm's shares down nearly 5 percent in Tokyo Thursday.
from Russell Boyce:
North Korea opened its doors and the internet to the World's media to allow a glimpse of the parade which marked the 65th anniversary of the founding of the Workers' Party. More importantly, it gave the world its first independent look at the protege Kim Jong-un. China based Chief Photographer Petar Kujundzic took full advantage of the opportunity. The warmth of the picture of the women soldiers smiling - a rare glimpse into the world from which we normally only get formal, over compressed and pixelated images.
North Korean female soldiers smile before a parade to commemorate the 65th anniversary of the founding of the Workers' Party of Korea in Pyongyang October 10, 2010. REUTERS/Petar Kujundzic
You may only have just heard about 3D TV, but Panasonic is already expecting it to be a hit with consumers. Yoshi Yamada, CEO of Panasonic's North America unit, told us the Japanese gadget maker hopes to sell 1 million units -- or more -- and they won't even hit the stores until the spring.
It's not clear yet how much more the 3D TVs will cost than big screen LCDs that many people just bought to replace their old tube TVs.
The Consumer Electronics Show is underway, with myriad companies announcing new devices and services. Here’s a sample, as seen through the lens of Reuters photographers Mario Anzuoni and Steve Marcus.
the Infoscape concept at the Intel booth
Panasonic's 3d Camcorder. Sure, it kind of looks like a "viewmaster". But its one of the keys to creating 3D content for consumers to see when they buy a 3D TV.
This video does not do justice to Panasonic's 152-inch HD TV, on display at CES. 3D TV is getting all of the buzz, but this screen just makes you stop and ponder, you know, everything. I only included that guy on the left for perspective. Its a big doggone screen.
from Raw Japan:
Whenever I hear the words "3D TV", I'm reminded of a scene in the 1971 flick Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory in which Mike Teavee uses Wonka's television chocolate machine to miniaturise himself to fit inside a TV screen. As the mini Mike shouts with excitement about his TV debut, his mother reaches into the TV, picks him up and puts him in her purse. As a kid, that was as close as I'd get to 3D TV.
But on Monday, although I wasn't quite miniaturized, I had the chance to visit a Panasonic plant in Osaka where I put on my own pair of TV glasses and watched 3D TV in a way young Mike Teavee would have loved.
Most people beat up their laptops and eventually pay the price. But not so with an emerging class of so-called rugged laptops. Dell is releasing its second-generation fully-rugged model - the Latitude E6400 XFR - and the company says it provides even better protection from rain, dust and dirt, drops and spills and temperature extremes.
The 14.1-inch, 8.5 pound, touch-screen unit - which starts at $4,299 - is designed for military, first responders, oil and gas workers, factory floors and other areas where you would never dare drag a standard laptop. It's a bit lighter and thinner than the first-generation XFR, and can get more than 13 hours of battery life with an optional 12-cell battery slice.