Apr 24, 2014 13:52 UTC

GE/Alstom deal rumours test French reform drive

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By Pierre Briançon

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

In an ideal world where free people would roam across free markets, there would be much to like in a takeover of engineering group Alstom by General Electric. The French turbine and train maker, bailed out by taxpayer money 10 years ago, has been hit hard by the economic slump and Asian competition. Its future as a standalone company is in doubt. It needs cash that its shareholders – including Bouygues, with a 29 percent stake – are loath to fork out. Being folded into much larger GE would help it through bad times while some of its assets would fit nicely into the U.S. group.

Apr 22, 2014 18:27 UTC

Valeant can boost its $47 bln bid for Allergan

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

Valeant Pharmaceuticals has plenty of room to boost its bid for Allergan. The acquisition machine, working with hedge fund manager Bill Ackman, thinks it can cut at least $2.7 billion of costs from the Botox maker. At Valeant’s single-digit tax rate, that’s worth nearly $25 billion. And the potential benefits go on from there. The $47 billion deal, based on Monday’s closing price for Valeant stock, would still add up with a much bigger premium.

Apr 22, 2014 13:05 UTC

Dawn raid makes comeback via activist drone strike

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By Robert Cyran and Richard Beales
The authors are Reuters Breakingviews columnists. The opinions expressed are their own.

Remember the dawn raid, when a would-be acquirer built up a stake before the target realized it was under attack? Activist investor Bill Ackman has come up with a kind of drone strike version. His Pershing Square Capital Management hedge fund and Valeant Pharmaceuticals have teamed up to grab a potential 9.7 percent stake in Allergan, with a hostile takeover by Valeant ready for deployment.

Apr 21, 2014 18:27 UTC

Barrick’s empire building deserves skeptical eye

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

Barrick Gold’s interest in a $33 billion merger with rival Newmont Mining deserves a skeptical eye. The world’s top gold miner by ounces produced is keen on a deal with the industry No. 2, according to news reports. Barrick’s outgoing founder and chairman, Peter Munk, admitted to “hubris” in past deals. Ex-Goldman Sachs banker John Thornton, who takes over next month, faces a considerable challenge convincing shareholders this won’t be another value-destroyer.

Apr 17, 2014 20:44 UTC

Blackstone leaves a trail of money to follow

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By Jeffrey Goldfarb

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

Blackstone is leaving quite the trail of money to follow. The buyout firm led by Steve Schwarzman generated record earnings in the first quarter, in stark contrast to the slog happening on Wall Street. It’s the latest sign of a power shift from banks to shadow banks, broadly defined. Having confined big lenders, watchdogs could pick up the scent on Blackstone and its ilk.

Apr 17, 2014 02:14 UTC

CITIC’s $37 bln merger hints at SOE reform task

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By Una Galani

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

CITIC’s $37 billion merger has shed some light on the gargantuan task of reforming China’s state-owned enterprises. The giant conglomerate is merging its assets, which range from finance to football, into its smaller Hong Kong-listed subsidiary. The result combines listed stakes and a mish-mash of smaller businesses. But if all goes well, CITIC Pacific shareholders will get a profitable ringside seat in the cleanup.

Apr 15, 2014 14:07 UTC

Diageo throws money at Indian empire-building

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By Robert Cole and Una Galani

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

Diageo is engaging in some expensive empire-building in India. An under-powered tender offer meant an earlier attempt to take control of Vijay Mallya’s United Spirits was only partially successful. Now the world’s biggest spirits maker has more than doubled the price it is willing to pay, offering $1.9 billion to raise its stake to 54.8 percent from 28.8 percent.

Apr 15, 2014 05:47 UTC

WH Group’s quick pork flip serves up meaty return

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By Una Galani 

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

WH Group’s quick pork flip will serve up a meaty return. The Chinese pig producer hasn’t had much time to justify the 31 percent premium it paid for rival Smithfield less than seven months ago. Yet the planned relisting of the enlarged group in Hong Kong implies the value of the U.S. business has risen at least 21 percent.

Apr 11, 2014 19:17 UTC

Comcast’s $45 bln deal warrants some utility logic

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By Jeffrey Goldfarb

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

Imagine Comcast’s $45 billion plan to buy Time Warner Cable gets the utility treatment. It isn’t a big stretch these days to liken the pipes that bring the internet into homes to those carrying water or electricity. When power companies and the like merge, though, regulators want consumers to share the spoils.

Apr 7, 2014 18:55 UTC

Grubby assets shine in $5.6 bln tax arbitrage deal

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

Grubby assets are being given a shine in a $5.6 billion tax arbitrage deal. Mallinckrodt, a specialty drugs company, is paying a 27 percent premium for Questcor, a rival barraged by regulatory inquiries. Why do it? The transaction moves profits to Ireland, where the acquirer is domiciled for tax purposes. It may be buying as many problems as taxman savings, however.