Comcast schools AT&T on media M&A

October 26, 2016

The cable giant now streams a third of its revenue from NBC Universal, a deal it concluded in early 2013. The regulatory and political climate was more accommodating and CEO Brian Roberts' strategy sound. AT&T's $85 bln bid for Time Warner, by contrast, is a dog's breakfast.

Oil prices are too gloomy on chance of OPEC deal

October 26, 2016

Crude prices have wilted after Iraq joined Nigeria, Iran and Libya in seeking exemptions from production cuts. But this need not be the death knell of a deal to reduce output. Even a small reduction to production would balance a market that is now only narrowly oversupplied.

SoftBank’s $100 bln VC dream requires creativity

October 26, 2016

Masayoshi Son's group has pledged a quarter of the total touted for a giant technology fund venture with the Saudis. That's a lot for a company with a strained balance sheet. But fees from the fund, hybrid bond issues and asset sales mean Son has plenty of ways to find cash.

Apple demonstrates why it doesn’t need Time Warner

October 25, 2016

The iPhone maker sniffed around, but never made a bid for, the media firm AT&T's buying. It would've been an alarming acknowledgement of a tough future in the maturing smartphone market. A decent new iPhone and rising service revenue are sufficient to forestall desperate M&A.

Cox: AT&T opens itself up to activist attack

By Rob Cox
October 25, 2016

CEO Randall Stephenson is an old-fashioned empire builder cut from Jean-Marie Messier cloth. In an era of pushy investors, however, running roughshod over shareholders to play Hollywood mogul doesn't fly. There's a blueprint for challenging this terrible plan to buy Time Warner.

AT&T runs corporate finance into populist uprising

October 25, 2016

The $85 bln acquisition of Time Warner would consolidate an industry already controlled by a small group. It's just the sort of concentrated power that gave rise to the likes of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. This deal, which both oppose, could become a symbol for the movement.

Infrastructure dream grounded by Heathrow reality

October 25, 2016

Britain has finally agreed to add a runway to London’s main airport. Even now, the plan may yet founder. Western democracies face challenges when launching big projects. The benefits of a renewed splurge of infrastructure spending will take decades to materialise.

Free trade can survive its Wallonian wobble

October 25, 2016

The tiny Belgian region is holding up a trade pact between Europe and Canada. That doesn’t mean such deals are impossible, though - they just need even more time and creative thinking. The messy process also undermines the notion that ordinary people have no say in globalisation.

China’s “bicycle Ubers” worth taking for a spin

October 25, 2016

MoBike and ofo are billed as sexy pedal-powered answers to the ride-hailing app. The startups, backed by local tech giants, are actually asset heavy and capital-intensive. They face unique risks, but pairing smart hardware with rental economics justifies some enthusiasm.

AT&T goes Looney Tunes for Time Warner

October 24, 2016

The U.S. telecom titan is paying $85 bln for the media conglomerate behind HBO, CNN and Bugs Bunny. Conventional financial analysis can't justify the whopping premium on offer. Instead, Time Warner shareholders benefit from AT&T's desperate search for a new business model.