Breakingviews

Hong Kong needs to defend shareholder democracy

April 16, 2014

The stock exchange is poised to launch a debate on shareholder voting rights after Alibaba cancelled its listing in the former colony. Dumping “one share, one vote” won’t necessarily attract many new IPOs. But it would undermine Hong Kong’s already shaky corporate governance.

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

April 15, 2014

Investors had an appetite for most 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 sellers, including Moelis and Weibo, may encounter a more rational market than expected.

Citi looks perfectly priced – for more mediocrity

April 14, 2014

The mega-bank beat earnings and revenue estimates in the first quarter. Its bad bank is no longer much of a drag, and Citi tapped some of its substantial tax breaks. But with subpar asset returns and no chance of returning capital soon, trading above book value will be a stretch.

Comcast’s $45 bln deal warrants some utility logic

April 11, 2014

These days it isn’t a big stretch to liken pipes carrying internet access to those carrying water or electricity. When utilities merge, though, regulators want consumers to share the spoils. If approached that way, Comcast’s Time Warner Cable takeover might raise fewer hackles.

JPMorgan’s clean sheet already looks off-white

April 11, 2014

For the first time in years, the U.S. mega-bank’s results weren’t cluttered with special items like whale-trade losses or legal costs. JPMorgan’s $5.3 bln in Q1 earnings fell short of expectations anyway. Boss Jamie Dimon will be hoping to make more of the fresh start.

China tech rout sifts IPO haves from don’t-needs

April 9, 2014

Volatility in internet stocks is a nuisance for those with plans to list. Alibaba is big and profitable enough to wait. Rival JD.com needs the money but has rich backers. Most exposed is microblog Weibo, which has the weakest business model and least reason to go public.

Ranbaxy sale shows risk in Japanese M&A adventures

April 7, 2014

Daiichi Sankyo is handing control of the troubled Indian drugmaker to local rival Sun Pharma in a $3.2 billion all-share deal. The investment has lost almost 40 percent of its value in six years. It’s a reminder of all that can go wrong when Japanese companies venture overseas.

China stock market opening is opposite of Big Bang

April 4, 2014

Investors are getting excited about mainland shareholders being allowed to buy Hong Kong stocks. But as with any loosening of China’s capital controls, progress will be gradual. Though Chinese cash will increasingly leak onto global markets, any breakthrough remains some way off.

Alibaba shopping spree needs better explanation

April 3, 2014

The Chinese e-commerce group has spent $3.8 bln on acquisitions since 2013, but the strategic logic remains hazy. Other internet giants are making similar deals, and the land grab may excite prospective investors. Even so, Alibaba will eventually have to justify its purchases.

Review: Moneyball flaws can be found in finance

March 28, 2014

“The Sabermetric Revolution” debunks some of the numerical analysis craze sweeping baseball. Two Smith College professors expose how many of the stats rely on poor measurement, dodgy theory and small data sets. Even good metrics quickly get arbitraged. Just like on Wall Street.