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from Breakingviews:

Li Ka-shing de-risks with $6 bln Temasek sale

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By Una Galani

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

Li Ka-shing is de-risking. The Hong Kong tycoon has ditched plans to list his retail division AS Watson in favour of selling a 24.95 percent stake to Temasek for $5.7 billion. The deal crystallises a decent valuation for Li without the uncertainties of an initial public offering (IPO). For the Singaporean state fund, it’s a bold bet on consumer growth and private investments.

Temasek’s cash injection values the retail business, which operates in 25 markets, at almost $22.9 billion. That’s equivalent to almost 39 percent of the market value of parent company Hutchison Whampoa before the deal was announced. Assuming that Temasek was able to negotiate a discount of 15 percent - similar to what investors would have demanded in an IPO, Watson might be worth as much as $26.3 billion, or 26 times its earnings for 2013. U.S. rival Walgreen trades on a multiple of around 18 times.

By putting a value on Watson and raising cash, the sale achieves everything Li wanted from a listing. Hutchison’s share price has risen 33 percent in the past year - compared with a near-4 percent drop in the benchmark Hang Seng index - as investors have focused on the fast-growing division, which includes pharmacy chain Superdrug as well as Hong Kong supermarket operator ParkNShop, which Li tried and failed to sell last year. Li’s decision to return $3.8 billion of the sale proceeds to Hutchison shareholders via a special dividend suggests the tycoon doesn’t currently have any big investment ideas up his sleeve.

from Breakingviews:

Wal-Mart puts collar on Cerberus price for Safeway

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

Could Cerberus pay more for Safeway? Based on the 2007 A&P-Pathmark merger, synergies could be worth more than half the $9.4 billion that the private equity firm’s Albertsons supermarket is paying for its U.S. rival. In theory that leaves room for a higher offer. But competition from the likes of Wal-Mart means cost savings may need to go to shoppers, not investors.

from Breakingviews:

Diamond dealers show how to make M&A sparkle

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

 

Leave it to a couple of diamond dealers to show how to make M&A sparkle. Jewelry retailer Signet’s stock shone brighter after it agreed to buy smaller rival Zale at a 41 percent premium for $1.4 billion. That’s what happens when the cost savings effectively cover the purchase price. It makes the tarnish on shareholder-unfriendly transactions involving Comcast and Jos. A. Bank all the more noticeable.

from Breakingviews:

Jos. A. Bank’s daft deal knits owners in a bind

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

Jos. A. Bank’s daft deal is knitting its shareholders in a bind. To avoid being acquired, or perhaps to fetch a higher price from rival Men’s Wearhouse, the suits retailer is issuing stock to buy Eddie Bauer at $56 a share, only to buy more back at $65. If the $875 million transaction isn’t unraveled, investors will find themselves painfully stitched up.

from MacroScope:

EU ratings day: Portugal modest thumbs up, Dutch unscathed, Ireland awaited

Friday is European ratings day since EU rules took force requiring ratings agencies to say precisely when they will make sovereign pronouncements and to do so outside market hours.

S&P has already shifted its outlook on Portugal’s rating from creditwatch negative to negative. The rating remains at BB, one notch below investment grade. That sounds obscure but it’s actually something of a vote of confidence though probably short of what the market had been hoping for.

from MacroScope:

Turkish troubles

Ask investors about their minimum criteria when putting money into a country and rule of law comes pretty high. That’s one of the reasons why Turkey’s corruption scandal, and the reaction of the government in ousting hundreds of police officers, is so serious. The lira touched a record low on Thursday.

Today, parliament's justice commission will debate a draft law reforming the High Council of Judges and Prosecutors, which makes judicial appointments. Critics of the bill say it will give the justice minister significant influence over appointments, describing it as anti-constitutional and undermining the separation of powers.

from Breakingviews:

Westfield shops for premium with $28 bln carve-up

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By Una Galani

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

Westfield is shopping for a premium with its A$30.3 billion ($28 billion) carve-up. Just three years after its last big reshuffle, the shopping mall giant is separating assets in Australia and New Zealand from outlets in the United States and Europe. The cleaner structure may allow Westfield to command a higher valuation.

from Breakingviews:

Versace’s valuation is as full-on as its outfits

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By Quentin Webb

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

Versace’s valuation looks as full-on as its outfits. The Italian fashion house, which is sizing up buyout firms and sovereign wealth outfits to fund a capital increase, reckons it is worth more than 1 billion euros ($1.36 billion) and could triple in value in three years. There is real potential, because Versace is so behind industry trends. But a big price tag for a skimpy minority stake next to a powerful family? That’s a hard look to pull off.

from Breakingviews:

Review: A no-nonsense recipe for retail success

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By George Hay

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

Malcolm Walker has a no-nonsense recipe for retail success. While larger supermarkets have expanded upmarket, overseas, and away from food, he’s made a fortune selling cheap frozen dinners to hard-up Britons through his Iceland Foods chain. It’s all about meeting customer demand, controlling costs, and staying focused, his autobiography shows. Still, Walker’s travails down the years are a reminder how easily things can go wrong in the food business.

from The Great Debate:

It’s time to retire Cyber Monday

It’s that time of year again. Time for Americans to gather, eat turkey with all the fixings, and give thanks for what they’ve got. It’s also time for our old friend Cyber Monday -- the Monday following Black Friday -- one of the biggest shopping days of the year. But frankly, it’s a holiday we can do without.

I have nothing against online shopping. I’d much rather sip a cappuccino and shop in the comfort of my own home than endure long lines and fight with other harried customers in the post-Thanksgiving rush. But this holiday no longer reflects the realities of digital shopping in 2013.

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