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from Breakingviews:

Roche’s $8 bln bet outsmarts ice-bucket challenge

By Robert Cyran

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

Roche’s latest $8 billion bet may outsmart the ice-bucket challenge. Dumping cold water on heads, the social-media phenomenon now boosting research on Lou Gehrig’s disease or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), is a great way to raise charitable cash. But the drug made by Roche’s target, InterMune, treats an obscure yet equally fatal disease with more sufferers.

There are about 35,000 patients diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, or IPF, in the United States every year. That’s more than five times the annual incidence of ALS. Both diseases strike similar age groups and are uniformly deadly, killing most patients within a handful of years. Yet ALS attracts more than twice the research budget annually and the popular ice-bucket challenge, which has already raised about $80 million, will increase the gap.

ALS has attracted media attention ever since it struck down Gehrig, an outstanding baseball player, in his prime. And death by loss of motor control inspires fear and empathy. But financial markets tend to take a more hard-nosed approach. Pharmaceutical companies focus on patient numbers and a drug’s potential efficacy. InterMune’s drug stacks up well on these metrics. Patients taking it tend to stave off the lung scarring of IPF for longer, and there are few alternative treatments. Analysts project sales could eventually top $1 billion a year.

from Breakingviews:

Deutsche/UBS: there’s life in EU bond trading yet

By Dominic Elliott

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

Deutsche Bank and UBS have shown there is life in Europe’s bond traders yet. The two banks and Credit Suisse have been losing share to Wall Street since last year, but in the second quarter they hit back. Fixed-income revenue at Deutsche was flat year-on-year, and down just 2 percent at UBS – against a 9 percent average fall at American banks.

from Breakingviews:

Credit Suisse cost cuts mask uneven performance

By Dominic Elliott

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

Credit Suisse’s cost-cutting is masking uneven performance overall. The Swiss bank’s ugly second-quarter net loss was down to an already announced 1.6 billion Swiss franc charge: part of a mega-fine to U.S. authorities for helping American citizens evade taxes. But even after stripping that out, investors can’t sleep easy.

from Breakingviews:

Life’s like a box of chocolates for Lindt owners

By Quentin Webb

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

For Lindt shareholders, life is like a box of chocolates. They didn’t know they were going to get Russell Stover, the Midwest outfit whose gift box starred in Forrest Gump. They still don’t know what Lindt paid for the third-biggest U.S. candymaker. Or what it will get in terms of profitability.

from The Great Debate:

Secrecy’s out, so here’s what Swiss banks can still offer

brady555

If Swiss banks were to cast off their usual discretion and make a marketing pitch these days, it might start off something like this:

Dear Potential Client,

While we would be delighted to open an account and manage your money for you, once you’ve complied with our anti-money laundering provisions, please be advised that we will no longer be able to help you avoid taxes back home, and in fact may soon start providing account details to your national tax authorities. Moreover, if you are American, please stay away. We’ve been so beaten up by the Justice Department that we’d rather not take your money at all.

from MacroScope:

Why EU elections can matter

Some interesting action over the weekend: in a foretaste of this week’s EU elections, Greece's leftist, anti-bailout Syriza party performed strongly in the first round of local elections on Sunday, capitalizing on voter anger at ongoing government austerity policies.

If it did even better in the EU polls it could threaten the ruling coalition and tip Greece back into turmoil just as there are signs that it has turned the corner.

from Breakingviews:

Barclays shows why it needs to do a UBS

By George Hay

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

Barclays has shown why it needs to “do a UBS”. Both the UK bank and its Swiss peer had a rotten time in their fixed-income trading operations in the first quarter, numbers released on May 6 show. The difference is that Barclays is only just understanding a problem that UBS attacked 18 months ago.

from Breakingviews:

Credit Suisse still firing on one cylinder

By Dominic Elliott

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

Credit Suisse is firing on one cylinder. The Swiss lender’s reshaped private banking arm is pulling in more money. But an 11 percent year-on-year dip in quarterly investment banking revenue shows its other main unit is still sputtering.

from Breakingviews:

Lafarge-Holcim share jump has gone far enough

By Quentin Webb and Chris Hughes

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

Lafarge and Holcim’s share rally has gone far enough. The Franco-Swiss duo’s planned 37 billion euro ($50 billion) mega-merger, which would create the world’s biggest cement maker, has already added 3.3 billion euros in combined market capitalisation since the deal leaked on Friday. Cost savings and revenue boosts could in time be worth a lot more. But the market’s caution is justifiable.

from Breakingviews:

JPMorgan commodities sale shows trading’s opacity

By Kevin Allison and Antony Currie

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

JPMorgan’s $3.5 billion sale of its physical commodities business is a perfect example of just how opaque trading is. The bank is selling what is probably a low-return business with regulatory headaches to Mercuria, a privately held firm that does not have to make its financials public. The dearth of details does make it hard to judge, but applying some statistics from both the industry and some rivals suggests Mercuria may be paying top whack.

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