Breakingviews

China-U.S. cyber spat risks corporate casualties

June 9, 2014

Beijing has responded to spying charges by taking aim at American tech companies. An escalating dispute could lead to blocked deals in the U.S. and lost sales in China. Though companies can try to ease security concerns, it’s hard for them to escape a political escalation.

UK spoils Europe’s $29 bln IPO boom

June 9, 2014

Is buying new issues worth it? Across Europe, yes. This year’s top IPOs have returned an index-beating 14 pct. But while London has raised the most cash, its flotation frenzy has dented the overall performance of the region’s new share sales. No wonder investors have grown picky.

Future financiers condemned to repeat sins of past

June 7, 2014

Some 150,000 wannabe investment advisers, bankers and analysts take the CFA exam this weekend. Success hinges on understanding WACC and ROE. Knowledge of the South Sea Bubble or the Great Crash is not required. Vast ignorance of financial history is an overlooked systemic risk.

Facebook is near-universal buyer in virtual world

June 6, 2014

The $160 bln website’s users are worth nearly $130 each. WhatsApp, at $19 bln or $42 per user, was a relative steal. Users of Twitter and Japan’s Line look cheap, too. Clamp on an Oculus Rift and there’s a case for Mark Zuckerberg to buy most of the planet’s social and chat apps.

Gannett carve-up is just a matter of Time

June 5, 2014

The $6.6 bln owner of USA Today isn’t getting credit for its TV transformation. Apply broadcaster valuations, and the newspapers are all but ignored by investors. As Time Warner sets free its publishing arm this week, a Breakingviews analysis suggests Gannett should do the same.

Voracious buyers find the meat on Sara Lee’s bones

June 4, 2014

The conglomerate broke up into Hillshire and D.E Master Blenders in 2012 after spurning a $12 bln offer. That was a raw deal - until now. Add the latest bid in the war for the sausage maker to the coffee unit’s sale and a special dividend and owners may finally make good.

Kellogg might make Heinz-style Buffett target

June 3, 2014

The $25 bln cereal giant’s stock is up on M&A talk. Kellogg may be too big for a Hillshire-like takeover battle and has too much debt for an LBO to be palatable. But an equity-rich deal like the Sage of Omaha and Brazil’s 3G cooked up last year for ketchup-maker Heinz might work.

Valeant urges $54 bln deal with carrot, two sticks

June 2, 2014

The acquisitive pharma group raised its offer for Allergan again, if the Allergan board cooperates. Meanwhile hedgie Bill Ackman is threatening to unseat six directors – and Valeant could yet decide to go fully hostile. But questions over Valeant’s own stock remain its weakness.

Henry Kravis cultivates private equity perennials

May 30, 2014

U.S. firms like his are selling companies to each other at a record pace. Such deals are dubious, especially given how much capital is stockpiled. But KKR’s $1.6 bln buyout of landscaper Brickman and quick merger with rival ValleyCrest suggest the grass can indeed be greener.

Glaxo wrestles with its past

May 28, 2014

A UK Serious Fraud Office investigation into the pharma group has knocked almost $2 bln off its market value. Fines in China are well flagged, but the scale of SFO’s concern is unclear, as is the cost of staying ethical in future. Investors are still betting on a benign outcome.