Breakingviews

Farcical oil deal prompts George Costanza defense

May 6, 2016

Like the character in sitcom “Seinfeld,” Energy Transfer hopes to shake up a sour relationship: the $21 bln takeover of pipeline rival Williams. ETE aims to pay less cash, seeming to force the issue by making itself as unattractive as possible. The stakes are no laughing matter.

Viewsroom: Tribune stalls while Tesla puts pedal to metal

May 6, 2016

The newspaper chain's rejection of Gannett's hefty $815 million offer is a head-scratcher, hardly the sort of move that suggests the industry knows how to pull itself out of a prolonged slump. Can clever experiments like the New York Times' plan to deliver meals with the morning paper pump up profit? Meanwhile, Elon Musk's electric-car company is accelerating production, claiming demand is outstripping supply. Maybe that's true, but technological glitches and a lack of capital could hold the company back. And bank customers may finally get their bite back. America's consumer watchdog – the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau – is reviving class-action lawsuits after decades of corporate efforts to squelch people's right to go to court.

Trump’s Fed position befits a banana republic

By Rob Cox
May 6, 2016

The reality-TV veteran turned White House contender says Janet Yellen is following the right monetary policy, but he’d replace her because she’s not a Republican. That’s not only a break with decorum. It’s a red flag that a President Trump would meddle in central-banking affairs.

Brexit advocates: heed the tale of Herb Kelleher

May 6, 2016

The co-founder of U.S. budget airline Southwest took the glamour out of air travel. But the increased connectivity has had unexpected benefits - like more scientific breakthroughs, a new study shows. Those who seek a British exit from the EU may be giving up more than they know.

India shows China the way to deal with bad debt

May 6, 2016

State-backed banks in both countries have lent too much to politically connected companies that are now in trouble. While India is pushing lenders to come clean, China is still not admitting the extent of the problem. Future growth depends on a proper cleanup.

Tesla’s acceleration may get investors shaking

May 5, 2016

The electric-auto maker expects to produce 500,000 vehicles two years earlier than planned amid strong demand for its new Model 3 sedan. Such ambition is typical for boss Elon Musk. The cash and technical capabilities involved, however, increase risk with the potential rewards.

Pfizer mulls actually having an M&A strategy

May 5, 2016

The $205 bln drug giant’s last two huge acquisition attempts failed. Pfizer could yet try another merger to cut its tax rate, it could enter a potentially heated auction for $10 bln biotech Medivation, or it could split up. Dealmaking success depends on having clearer goals.

Alibaba’s strong core comes with shaky periphery

May 5, 2016

The Chinese e-commerce group’s revenue soared 39 pct year on year, faster than volumes of stuff sold on its sites. Alibaba also disclosed losses on its fintech, services and logistics affiliates. Those trends can co-exist, so long as online shopping growth stays sturdy.

Stupid names can’t hurt good companies

May 5, 2016

Healthineers, Siemens’ new brand for its healthcare unit, is reminiscent of a hero in a 1950s science fiction comic. Users of its brain-scanners are unlikely to care. For investors the goofy name is, at the margin, a good thing: it shows a spin-off may have become more likely.

Mitsubishi Motors fiasco shows reforms lack oomph

May 5, 2016

The carmaker’s legacy of dodgy testing is astonishing. At best, management and directors were in the dark for 25 years. The firm badly needs a stronger board and better internal controls. For all the talk of improved corporate governance, much of Japan Inc is similarly lacking.