Breakingviews

Hacked eBay exposes itself to another attack

May 24, 2014

Carl Icahn buried the hatchet with the online auctioneer’s board before it came out that records of 145 mln customers were breached. Similar cracks just cost the boss of retailer Target his job. That leaves an opening for another investor to pressure eBay’s CEO and directors.

CITIC goes slowly on reform with $5.1 bln placing

May 15, 2014

The Chinese group’s Hong Kong subsidiary will sell shares to 15 investors as part of a union with its state-owned parent. That allows CITIC to keep its stock market listing. Yet most of the buyers are also backed by the government. A deep overhaul of state firms looks a way off.

Macau casino stocks have further to fall

May 14, 2014

A crackdown on the use of China UnionPay cards in the gambling enclave is the latest scare for investors. Restrictions on cash transfers will dent growth. Though casino stocks are down 19 pct since early March, earnings multiples still don’t leave much room for disappointment.

Apple shows another symptom of mid-life crisis

May 9, 2014

It hasn’t got a tattoo or hooked up with a Pilates instructor. But its interest in trendy headphone maker Beats may be a sign the $500 bln iPhone inventor feels the need to splash out $3 bln to keep up with the cool kids. The risk is that fast cars and other pricier toys follow.

Big Ad merger sorely misjudged its audience

May 9, 2014

The failed $35 bln tie-up of Publicis and Omnicom was a triumph of financial logic that failed to account for human behaviour. Merging two rivals of near-identical size looked elegant on paper. But that doesn’t mean much if clients, employees and regulators don’t buy the concept.

Alibaba finance arm better out than in for IPO

May 9, 2014

Alipay is crucial to Alibaba’s success, yet isn’t part of the soon-to-be listed Chinese e-commerce group. Founder Jack Ma caused outrage when he whisked Alipay away in 2011. But with hindsight, the current arms-length arrangement might be better for future Alibaba shareholders.

Stanford’s snub to coal typical of Silicon Valley

By Christopher Swann
May 8, 2014

The black rock is an easy target for the university’s $18.7 bln endowment. Yet shouldn’t the principle behind it apply equally to oil producers, even local titan and Stanford donor Chevron? Like some of its grads, the university seems willing to shun certain evils only so far.

Yahoo’s Alibaba windfall tough to spend wisely

May 8, 2014

After selling part of its stake in the Chinese company’s mega-IPO, Yahoo could have $12 bln in cash. Buybacks have been getting pricier, and with Alibaba stock traded separately the U.S. firm may be tempted to throw money at its own business – whatever that may actually be.

Alibaba’s big reveal: high growth, odd governance

May 7, 2014

The Chinese e-commerce giant’s IPO filing shows it processed $248 bln of goods in 2013, yet squeezed just a third as much revenue from sellers as eBay. Both numbers should continue to grow. The catch is that new investors have little say: the founders are keeping firm control.

Barclays shows why it needs to do a UBS

May 6, 2014

The UK bank saw Q1 fixed-income revenue fall even more than forecast. Its Swiss peer didn’t fare much better, but UBS is already well into a wealth management-focused turnaround. While Barclays has fewer options, its strategic revamp on May 8 needs to be similarly radical.