Dec 11, 2012 13:53 UTC

Record fine shows some banks are too big to indict

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By Dominic Elliott

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

HSBC’s $1.9 billion fine for money-laundering is a record for a bank, but its one-off nature means that it’s largely symbolic for an institution with a market cap of 118 billion pounds. The outcome could have been worse. Some U.S. regulators wanted to indict the UK lender, according to a New York Times report, but they backed down on fears that a heavy-handed approach could destroy HSBC’s U.S. arm and destabilise the wider banking system.

Dec 7, 2012 20:13 UTC

Freeport deal triangle gets cozier and cozier

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By Christopher Swann

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

Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold’s foray into energy keeps getting cozier for the top executives involved. The U.S. mining group’s market value has plunged $6 billion following news of its planned purchase of Plains Exploration & Production and McMoRan Exploration. Yet Jim Bob Moffett, Freeport’s chairman, and James Flores, chief executive of Plains, will come out ahead.

Dec 6, 2012 18:48 UTC

HP breakup is on tech world’s 2013 agenda

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By Rob Cox and Robert Cyran

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

David Packard and William Hewlett may be Silicon Valley’s answer to Romulus and Remus in Rome’s founding story, but the era of their brainchild, Hewlett-Packard, as an everything-to-everyone conglomerate is coming to an end. Chief Executive Meg Whitman and HP’s board, not to mention investors, won’t stick around for an arduous and risky five-year turnaround project. Breaking the company into good bits and selling bad ones must be on the agenda for 2013.

COMMENT

Dell also includes the former Perot Systems (similar to HP’s EDS). Doesn’t this effectively count the value of EDS twice – alone, and in the PC division (a la Dell)?

Posted by BeeJayJr | Report as abusive
Dec 6, 2012 15:18 UTC

Barclays bet lives up to rich billing for Qatar

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By Una Galani

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

A massive bet on Barclays is living up to its rich billing for Qatar. The complex 3.4 billion pound investment in the UK bank has earned a 19 percent internal rate of return for the sovereign fund, according to a Breakingviews calculation. That’s pretty good, factoring in the huge risk of propping up a universal bank at the height of the financial crisis. But it will grate for Barclays shareholders who resented the deal in the first place.

Dec 5, 2012 22:00 UTC

The 1 pct find a way to stimulate themselves

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By Agnes T. Crane

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

The wealthy in America are creating their own personal stimulus. Special dividends are coming thick and fast. Oracle’s Larry Ellison and the Walton family of Wal-Mart Stores are among the noteworthy beneficiaries. Payouts have potentially saved recipients billions in taxes so far. Uncle Sam might have put that to work fixing infrastructure.

Dec 5, 2012 17:03 UTC

Pharma lands one-two punch on government finances

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By Robert Cyran and Reynolds Holding

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

Pharma has landed a double blow against the American government. The U.S. Court of Appeals in New York has ruled that a drug salesman was exercising his right to free speech by pitching a narcolepsy drug as effective against insomnia, chronic fatigue and other conditions the Food and Drug Administration had not approved. If the Supreme Court upholds this decision, companies will pay fewer multi-billion dollar fines and useless healthcare spending will increase.

Dec 4, 2012 08:37 UTC

SEC learns true cost of China accounting goodwill

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By John Foley

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

China’s shaky accounting practices are a sound target for U.S. regulators. Or at least, they would have been ten years ago. The Securities and Exchange Commission’s action against China-based auditors, including affiliates of big accountants like KPMG and Deloitte who refuse to hand over files on U.S.-listed companies, comes too late. If the SEC pushes the point, it could bring a moral victory, but a financial mess.

COMMENT

Caveat emptor – buyer beware!

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Dec 3, 2012 22:00 UTC

Wall Street deal-making has lesson for Washington

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By Jeffrey Goldfarb

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

When it comes to deal-making, Washington could learn from Wall Street. The U.S. budget talks have become the equivalent of an ugly, public merger proxy battle. While investment bankers are often too eager to push for a deal, they also know that negotiating in public usually only makes things tougher.

COMMENT

I think that every congressman should be able to draw a diagram for any individual in any industry such that the diagram shows the avenues by which money spent by the individual circulate back to the individual. Without this visualization, no person can discus what improves or impedes the circulation of money. With this visualization, we can imagine many different excellent solutions to the fiscal conflict.

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Dec 3, 2012 19:33 UTC

SandRidge CEO sets bar even lower for oil patch

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By Christopher Swann

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

Tom Ward, chief executive of troubled oil and gas explorer SandRidge Energy, has set the bar even lower for the oil patch. He is not the first energy boss to live large at shareholders’ expense. But his extravagance at the nearly $3 billion U.S. company would make even TV villain J.R. Ewing blush. Angry owners are right to want him out.

Nov 30, 2012 19:31 UTC

Review: How a maverick CEO exposed a scandal at Olympus

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By Quentin Webb

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

Society and markets need whistle-blowers. But it’s hard, lonely work. Michael Woodford’s “Exposure” details first-hand how the maverick executive blew the whistle on a $1.7 billion accounting scandal at Olympus, the company he ran. His integrity makes him a welcome outlier in an age of financial scandal.