Apple rightly keeps chairman, CEO roles split

November 16, 2011

The divide may have looked temporary when Tim Cook replaced the ailing Steve Jobs as chief. But making Arthur Levinson chairman is smart. He’s a canny operator and his appointment lets Cook concentrate on running Apple day to day. The separation of duties is long overdue.

UBS’s slimming strategy deserves two cheers

November 17, 2011

The Swiss lender is halving its investment bank’s risk assets, closing units and putting its private and Swiss banking ops front and centre. It’s also cutting jobs and return targets. It’s all sensible stuff, but UBS has taken its time and must prove it can stick with the plan.

Equity-bond decoupling shows risks have changed

November 17, 2011

Investors may be rethinking the inherent riskiness of equities, especially compared to sovereign bonds. That is a logical response to seismic shifts in the european debt markets. Shares aren’t invincible but they are pretty well equipped for these rough times.

Exclusive: Ditching CEO won’t save US utility deal

November 18, 2011

Northeast Utilities parted ways with the head of its biggest division, CL&P, after the utility’s bungled storm response. Investors think that makes the pending $4.7 bln takeover of NSTAR more likely. Not so fast: Connecticut plans to reopen the merger review by hook or by crook.

Ted Forstmann: a financier the 99 pct could admire

November 21, 2011

The buyout pioneer, dead at 71, was a hard-nosed “barbarian at the gate.” But he re-engineered companies, not just their finances, and disliked junk bonds. And while Forstmann made society pages, he also donated much of his fortune. His was the kind of greed that can be good.

PCCW spinoff can’t unwind tycoon discount

November 23, 2011

Richard Li’s conglomerate snagged a generous $3.8 bln price tag for its Hong Kong telecom business, thanks to a promise of fat dividends. But the spinoff exposes an inconvenient truth: the mogul’s own holding company is valued at almost 40 percent less than the sum of its parts.

Europe’s great bank balance sheet fiddle

November 23, 2011

EU lenders can meet capital targets by raising equity, selling assets or shrinking loan books. But they may also change their risk-weighted asset calculations. The process looks open to abuse. Far from restoring confidence in the sector, it may have the opposite effect.

Fed’s stress-test revamp brings good and bad news

November 28, 2011

Submitting top U.S. banks to awful scenarios will force them to preserve precious capital, possibly delaying dividends. However, the tests will take time. And fear of scrutiny may cause U.S. lenders to speed their withdrawal from the euro zone, worsening the continent’s woes.

Tata keeps things in the family

November 28, 2011

Cyrus Mistry’s appointment as Ratan Tata’s successor continues the habit of dynastic succession in Indian companies. That may not be such a bad thing. But Mistry can promote outside talent by stepping back from the chairmanships of Tata Steel and Tata Motors.

P&G may need to pop a plan B for Pringles

November 29, 2011

Diamond Foods, agreed buyer of the consumer giant’s chips brand, keeps losing sparkle. Buried news about its internal audit investigation, rising payments to walnut-growing directors and other inconsistencies don’t seem to augur well for the probe - or P&G’s deal.