May 15, 2013 21:54 UTC

Speech-tech firm’s M&A machine could go in reverse

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By Robert Cyran

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Over the past decade, Nuance Communications has been on a frenetic shopping spree. The $6 billion firm now encompasses businesses ranging from medical transcription to powering Siri on the iPhone. But Nuance, the M&A machine, is sputtering. Margins are falling, the stock hasn’t advanced in five years, and debt is accumulating. Moreover, Carl Icahn recently upped his stake in the company from 9 percent to 11 percent in what could signal an end to acquisitions – even the start of a breakup.

May 14, 2013 20:07 UTC

Tesla shareholders are pulling ahead of themselves

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By Antony Currie

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Tesla’s shareholders seem to be assuming Chief Executive Elon Musk is infallible. The $10 billion U.S. electric carmaker is on a roll, last week recording its first quarterly profit and receiving the best score the Consumer Reports publication has bestowed on a car for six years. The company’s stock has since surged as much as 70 percent, leaving Tesla worth more than Fiat and Peugeot combined and trading at a whopping 27 times estimates for earnings in 2016.

May 14, 2013 11:49 UTC

Dan Loeb‘s breakup plan deserves Sony’s ear

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By Peter Thal Larsen

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Dan Loeb is taking Japan’s economic renaissance at face value: the hedge fund manager wants Sony to spin off its entertainment arm. Though activists rarely prevail in Japan, Loeb’s idea may have merits. The electronics giant should take him seriously.

May 13, 2013 22:29 UTC

Could Silver Lake quietly be rooting for Icahn?

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By Jeffrey Goldfarb

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Carl Icahn may have a secret admirer. The uppity billionaire fired his latest salvo in the battle over Dell late last week, proposing a half-baked leveraged recapitalization. The plan could be a ploy to get Silver Lake Partners and founder Michael Dell to sweeten their $24.4 billion bid. It’s hard not to wonder, though, if the buyout firm isn’t quietly rooting for Icahn.

May 10, 2013 13:53 UTC

BT’s free sports gambit tries to out-Sky Sky

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By George Hay and Quentin Webb

The authors are Reuters Breakingviews columnists. The opinions expressed are their own

BT’s free sports gambit is an attempt to out-Sky Sky. The UK telco on May 9 surprised investors by offering new broadband users the chance to watch live Premier League soccer for no extra charge. The 2 percent, 6 percent and 12 percent drops in the share prices of BT, BSkyB and smaller competitor TalkTalk may look like an extreme response to the move, but they reflect rational fears of a price war.

May 7, 2013 14:09 UTC

Lufthansa governance farce marks new low point

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By Olaf Storbeck

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Europe’s largest airline in the last 24 hours has gone through a series of self-inflicted turbulences that raise doubts about the quality of its governance. On Monday morning, the nominated new chairman of Lufthansa, a former chief executive of the company, unexpectedly announced that he would not be available for the task. One day ahead of the annual shareholder meeting, Wolfgang Mayrhuber, 66, seemed to cave in to pressure from international investors unhappy with his candidacy. Then, a few hours later, he changed his mind once again, and decided to run after all.

May 3, 2013 17:53 UTC

PepsiCo resistance against activists looks futile

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By Robert Cyran

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

A PepsiCo breakup looks like a matter of time. Investors with a hankering for corporate restructurings have taken stakes in the $128 billion snacks and drinks conglomerate. Splitting the two operations in some way would be straight out of their standard playbook. Though the company has opposed such efforts in the past, the success of Nelson Peltz at Cadbury and his interest in another food biggie, Mondelez, may be hard to resist.

May 3, 2013 11:24 UTC

RBS needs to make the case for freedom

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By George Hay The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own

Royal Bank of Scotland needs to make the case for its freedom. The UK bank’s management is now publicly stating that the process to sell down the UK government’s 81 percent stake will begin in under a year. But a quick sale looks as double-edged as RBS’s own current performance.

May 2, 2013 13:51 UTC

Shell must hope Voser successor mimics his ways

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By Kevin Allison

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own

When a chief executive unexpectedly leaves to spend more time with his family, it’s usually a cue to start a post-mortem into a failed tenure. Shell looks like an exception. Actually, it is shame Peter Voser is leaving. The Anglo-Dutch oil major could do worse than hope his successor mimics his ways.

May 1, 2013 12:43 UTC

Barclays in capital fog after Deutsche U-turn

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By George Hay

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own

Barclays is under the spotlight after Deutsche Bank’s  capital U-turn. Having trumpeted an organic capital strategy since being appointed co-chief executives of the German bank last year, Juergen Fitschen and Anshu Jain finally opted for a 3 billion pound equity placing to bolster capital. Barclays new boss Antony Jenkins doesn’t look immune to a similar volte face.