Apr 28, 2014 19:23 UTC

Silicon Valley exceptionalism only travels so far

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By Jeffrey Goldfarb

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

Airbnb isn’t finding New York very hospitable. The room-sharing site squared off in court last week with Attorney General Eric Schneiderman over information he has subpoenaed about the many Airbnb customers his office suspects are breaking the Empire State’s laws. It’s a good example of what happens when tech entrepreneurs stray from their more accommodating Silicon Valley environs.

COMMENT

That sort of bluster won’t resonate much beyond the tech echo chamber. Airbnb’s ride-sharing cousin, Uber, is getting a cool reception in big cities like Miami, Berlin and Paris.
Good

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Apr 23, 2014 22:06 UTC

Buffett loses his voice – and maybe some sway

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By Jeffrey Goldfarb

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

Warren Buffett lost his voice and maybe some sway along with it. The Omaha billionaire said on Wednesday he didn’t vote against Coca-Cola’s controversial equity pay plan, even though he disagreed with it. Buffett explained that he feared his opposition might be misinterpreted as a lack of support for Chief Executive Muhtar Kent. That’s an odd message to convey to his legions of investment acolytes. It doesn’t, however, mean Coke shouldn’t hear what its largest owner is saying.

COMMENT

Mr. Buffett did the right thing. 83% of votes approved of the plan and he chose not to use his outsized ownership to sway the decision of the majority. The times they are a changing. Thanks Mr. Buffett.

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Apr 22, 2014 14:29 UTC

Manchester United’s crisis has silver lining

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By Olaf Storbeck

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

Manchester United fans won’t like this, but the club’s crisis is exactly what the soccer business, and United itself, needs. A manager ditched after 10 months, a lowly seventh place in the league, an enforced absence from European football: this is the kind of drama that keeps the sport exciting and secures future revenue streams. Nothing is more boring than a league dominated by an overwhelming team.

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 17:53 UTC

Morgan Stanley gets most relief from first quarter

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By Antony Currie

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

Few banks have reported much to crow about in their first-quarter earnings. But Morgan Stanley can claim relief, at least, from the $1.45 billion in net income it unveiled on Thursday. Chief Executive James Gorman presided over a far better start to the year than in 2013, including bucking the Wall Street trend in fixed-income trading. More importantly, Gorman looks closer to hitting targets than rivals like Bank of America and Citigroup.

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 16, 2014 17:34 UTC

BofA loss provides valuable mega-bank perspective

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By Antony Currie

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

Anemic results underscore how little fun it is to run a mega-bank these days. A $276 million loss from Bank of America announced on Wednesday, however, at least provides some valuable perspective.

Apr 16, 2014 06:02 UTC

Hong Kong needs to defend shareholder democracy

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By Una Galani and Peter Thal Larsen

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

Hong Kong needs to make a stand for shareholder democracy. Alibaba’s decision to shift its giant stock market listing to the United States has sparked a debate about control of public companies in the former British colony. Hong Kong’s stock exchange, whose rules wouldn’t have permitted a plan to let Alibaba insiders nominate a majority of board directors, is preparing a public consultation on shareholder rights. But dumping the principle of “one share, one vote” would be a mistake.

Apr 15, 2014 19:21 UTC

From Ally to Zoe’s, IPOs hint at back to basics

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By Robert Cyran

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

From Ally Financial to Zoe’s Kitchen, initial public offerings may be getting back to basics. Investors had an appetite for almost any new issue until last week. Six of 10 offerings couldn’t fetch the desired price and six were yanked as fear again mingled with greed. A fresh crop of eager sellers, including Moelis and Weibo, may encounter a more rational market than expected.

Apr 14, 2014 18:08 UTC

Citi looks perfectly priced – for more mediocrity

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By Antony Currie

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

Citigroup’s stock looks perfectly priced – for more mediocrity. The mega-bank’s $3.9 billion first-quarter profit was no disaster. Unlike JPMorgan, the firm run by Michael Corbat beat analysts’ estimates. Its bad bank, Citi Holdings, is no longer much of a drag. And the bank even managed to utilize a chunk of its substantial tax breaks and thus boost capital. For now, though, shareholders don’t have much more to cheer about.