Jun 30, 2014 19:20 UTC

Evonik in $400 mln soccer deal it doesn’t need

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By Olaf Storbeck

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

Evonik’s 300 million euro ($400 million) tie-up with Bundesliga soccer team Borussia Dortmund (BVB) has little merits for the company’s shareholders. Germany’s third-largest chemical company hopes that the alliance with the club will turn its brand into a global household name. The snag is that Evonik doesn’t do any business with end users.

Jun 30, 2014 14:21 UTC

Philips lighting split is a bright idea

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By Dominic Elliott

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

A lighting split at Philips is a bright idea. The Dutch electronics group, which makes everything from defibrillators to air purifiers, has already spent years restructuring, pulling back from areas like televisions and home audio. Now Philips is moving its high-powered LED and car lights components operations into a standalone unit. Stepping out of their parent’s shadow should help the fast-growing businesses attract outside capital.

Jun 27, 2014 19:29 UTC

Soros takes sub-quantum leap into activism

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By Christopher Swann

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

Is George Soros turning activist? His $29 billion hedge fund has famously confronted governments. But facing off with a $1 billion U.S. oil and gas company is novel. The move gives underperforming corporate bosses another scourge to fear.

COMMENT

A family hedge fund worth $29 billion? As such, the fund is not required to file reports with the FCC, but it is OK to go after companies that are. How is this fair to public companies and their shareholders? Is Soros using high frequency trading and offshore dark pools to further tilt the playing field in his favor?

This type of fund is the best argument that I know of to enlarge the “estate tax” and use some of the proceeds for government regulation of these predatory behaviors. If this is not done, in the not to distant future we can look forward to the national dominance of yet another aristocratic class, if we are not there already.

Didn’t western civilization try this before? The social imbalances created led to centuries of warfare, including the development of fascism in the 20th century. I doubt that this is an outcome that Mr. Soros intends.

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Jun 27, 2014 19:16 UTC

Barclays’ hit reflects investment bank fears

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By Dominic Elliott

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

The market’s reaction to accusations that Barclays duped clients in its dark pool reflects more general fears of investment banking. Shares in the UK bank tanked as much as 9 percent on June 26 after New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman alleged Barclays misled investors by playing down the number of “predatory” high-frequency traders on its private trading platform for equities. Barclays says it takes the allegations “very seriously.”

Jun 26, 2014 21:47 UTC

U.S. drought could spark economic water warfare

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By Kevin Allison and Antony Currie

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

The withering drought afflicting California and the southwest United States could spark economic warfare over water. Scarce rains have left large swaths of the country dry for, in some areas, several years. That’s happening as industries from beverages to semiconductors grow concerned about whether they will have adequate access to water in the future. For cities and states situated around the Great Lakes, as well as water technology firms, it presents a flood of opportunities.

COMMENT

The problem is solvable if rational thinking is applied however with the current political climate in the US the water issue has the potential to become a national crisis.

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Jun 25, 2014 19:04 UTC

Aereo is dead, long live TV disruption

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By Reynolds Holding

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

Aereo is dead, long live television disruption. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that the streaming startup backed by entertainment mogul Barry Diller violates copyright law. Legal loopholes abound, however, and investors and viewers will still reward those who find ways to exploit them. The likes of broadcasters CBS and Disney-owned ABC can’t afford to waste time celebrating.

Jun 24, 2014 19:14 UTC

Next stop: Siemens-Alstom train merger

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By Olaf Storbeck

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

Once the dust settles over the Alstom bidding war, Siemens and its French rival may want to revisit the most compelling aspect of the German company’s losing bid: a merger of both groups’ train-making units that would create the train equivalent of Airbus, the European aircraft maker.

Jun 24, 2014 16:08 UTC

Hollywood’s hopes in China rest on Youku

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By Rob Cox

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

Look around the subway in Beijing or Shanghai and maybe nine of 10 passengers are watching videos on their mobile devices. Chances are most of them are watching content delivered to them by Youku Tudou. The country’s leading internet television operator streams 400 million videos a day. In that sense, Youku is Netflix and YouTube – plus Comcast and Liberty Media – stuffed into one dumpling. It is also the nexus for Hollywood’s high hopes in the Middle Kingdom.

Jun 23, 2014 18:38 UTC

Oracle deal provides partly cloudy forecast

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By Kevin Allison

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

Oracle’s $5.3 billion deal for Micros Systems provides a cloudy forecast for shareholders in the database giant. Even if it’s the start of a new deal binge by Chief Executive Larry Ellison – which is possible – it’s not at a crazy valuation. But longtime partner Micros is more of an add-on than a way to supercharge Oracle’s effort in the cloud.

Jun 20, 2014 18:14 UTC

GE scores a Pyrrhic victory in France

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By Quentin Webb

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

There’s a paradox in General Electric’s French triumph. The U.S. conglomerate is finally getting Alstom’s energy businesses, having seen off German nemesis Siemens and reached an accommodation with a hostile French government. Yet some other players won clearer victories.