M&A-capex inversion wrongfoots stock-pickers

May 1, 2014

Resurgent business investment was supposed to lift equity markets this year. The backdrop was certainly propitious: cash-rich firms and low rates. These are also ideal conditions for deals, and the beneficiaries aren’t necessarily the same.

BNP is latest pawn in U.S. too-big-to-jail saga

April 30, 2014

Post-HSBC, U.S. regulators are keen to bin the idea that big banks can’t be found guilty on stability grounds. BNP’s breaches of foreign sanctions may not be worse than peers’. But at best it looks to be facing a big fine; at worst, a serious threat to its Stateside business.

WH Group flop shows pitfalls of crowded IPOs

April 30, 2014

The Chinese pork producer hired a record 29 banks but still failed to sell its $1.3 bln listing to investors. That undermines the received wisdom that more advisers mean less risk for issuers. For banks, it’s a reminder they can share embarrassment as well as league table credit.

Silicon Valley exceptionalism only travels so far

April 28, 2014

Airbnb has been sassing its way around New York, whose attorney general suspects the residence-sharing site’s users are breaking the law. A better lodging mousetrap and $10 bln valuation may resonate in the Valley, but it doesn’t mean nearly as much beyond the tech echo chamber.

Buffett loses his voice – and maybe some sway

April 23, 2014

The Omaha billionaire said he didn’t vote against Coca-Cola’s controversial pay plan even though he disagreed with it, for fear of sending a wrong signal about the CEO. That’s an odd message to convey. It doesn’t mean Coke shouldn’t hear what its largest owner is saying, though.

Manchester United’s crisis has silver lining

April 22, 2014

The English soccer club fired David Moyes, hapless successor to star manager Alex Ferguson, after one awful season. But the drama has an upside. Turmoil at the top of the game sustains fan and sponsor interest. As one of football’s biggest brands, United should benefit.

Morgan Stanley gets most relief from first quarter

April 17, 2014

James Gorman presided over a far better Q1 than in 2013 – including bucking the Wall Street trend in fixed-income trading. Goldman posted stronger numbers, though investment gains helped. More importantly, Gorman is closer to hitting targets than other rivals like Citi and BofA.

Blackstone leaves a trail of money to follow

April 17, 2014

The buyout firm generated record quarterly earnings, in stark contrast to Wall Street’s slog. 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 Steve Schwarzman and his ilk.

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

April 17, 2014

The union of the Chinese giant with its Hong Kong-listed subsidiary offers rare visibility into China’s sprawling state conglomerates. CITIC Pacific shareholders get mostly listed assets at a discount – and if all goes well, a potentially profitable ringside seat in the cleanup.

BofA loss provides valuable mega-bank perspective

April 16, 2014

Some $6 bln of legal costs chewed up all the U.S. bank’s Q1 profit. It took half as much again to cause a quarterly loss at JPMorgan last year. BofA’s bad results, however, probably will leave Citi boss Mike Corbat wondering why his better-performing bank got stiffed by the Fed.