Breakingviews

Quickie stock sales toy with Volcker Rule spirit

July 3, 2014

Wall Street has used block trades to move $23 bln of equity for public companies this year, almost as much as IPOs have raised. They’re a handy tool and easy way for banks to gain league-table credit. But at times the line blurs between capital-raising and banned prop trading.

Cash calls misstate likely EU bank equity deficit

July 3, 2014

The first half of 2014 saw a spate of European bank share sales ahead of stress test results this autumn. It would be wrong to conclude that all the new equity will go to plug a capital hole. Some lenders are being preemptive, some are just cautious.

U.S. cooks up penalties with anti-foreign flavor

July 1, 2014

New research shows that overseas firms like BNP Paribas do in fact pay bigger fines and plead guilty more often than U.S. companies. One reason may be that prosecutors target only the most serious cases abroad. But the gaps feed suspicions that America is playing favorites.

Solving the second-class stock conundrum

July 1, 2014

Entrepreneurs want super-voting rights to execute their vision without bother from uppity investors. “Class V” shares, with ballot power that lapses over time, would be a way to minimize this violation of democratic capitalism. A decade, say, would give founders their chance.

Evonik in $400 mln soccer deal it doesn’t need

June 30, 2014

The German specialty chemicals company is buying a 9 percent stake in a first-tier soccer team, emulating Adidas, Audi, Allianz and Bayern Munich. But Evonik’s products don’t reach end users. The potential benefits of its deal with Borussia Dortmund are hazy at best.

Philips lighting split is a bright idea

June 30, 2014

The Dutch conglomerate is restructuring again, moving high-powered LEDs and car lights into a standalone unit with 1.4 bln euros in sales. The business is fast-growing and would benefit from outside capital. Stepping out of the parent’s shadow should help.

Soros takes sub-quantum leap into activism

June 27, 2014

His $29 bln hedge fund has famously confronted governments. But facing off with a U.S. oil and gas company is novel. Whether a test of a new – and recently profitable – strategy or a sign of change at the family firm, it gives underperforming bosses another scourge to fear.

Barclays’ hit reflects investment bank fears

June 27, 2014

Shares in the UK bank tanked 9 pct after accusations of fraud in its “dark pool.” That implies a surprisingly big $6 bln hit. Fine inflation is rampant, and Barclays could suffer reputational damage. It’s a reminder: small investment banking businesses can carry outsized risks.

U.S. drought could spark economic water warfare

June 26, 2014

Scarce rains have left California and the U.S. Southwest dry just as industries from beverages to semiconductors grow concerned about the availability of H20. That presents a flood of opportunity for water tech firms and Great Lakes states like Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin.

Aereo is dead, long live TV disruption

June 25, 2014

The U.S. Supreme Court says the Barry Diller-backed streaming startup violates copyright law. Legal loopholes abound, however, and investors and viewers will reward those who find ways to exploit them. The likes of CBS and Disney can’t afford to spend much time celebrating.