May 7, 2014 06:11 UTC

Alibaba’s big reveal: high growth, odd governance

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By John Foley 

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

There are two things to know about Alibaba, which filed for an initial public offering in New York on May 6. First, China’s dominant e-commerce company is huge, and could be even bigger. Second, new investors will have little say in how it is run – the founders are keeping a firm grip.

May 6, 2014 14:06 UTC

Barclays shows why it needs to do a UBS

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By George Hay

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

Barclays has shown why it needs to “do a UBS”. Both the UK bank and its Swiss peer had a rotten time in their fixed-income trading operations in the first quarter, numbers released on May 6 show. The difference is that Barclays is only just understanding a problem that UBS attacked 18 months ago.

COMMENT

I feel there is little consistency in the way punters view Barclays,and everyone seems to rush to hasty conclusions about compensation and business lines.Firstly, there is little mention today post results of the fact that Barc seems increasingly balanced with commercial and retail revenues in positive territory.Second,Barclays has key competitive advantages in FI and technology,none of which are that easy to replicate, and in my opinion,worth preserving even at a short term cost, with economies of scale and crossproduct fertilisation being key to efficient management. On that basis, and with a somewhat improved cost base, Barclays might surprise the myriad of doomsday’s who say Barclays came late to restructuring.The fact is that you cannot walk away from your most profiled business (FICC) between two quarters, and also, I feel there is a failure to recognise that Barclays has always been very early to the party with respect to advancing its technology offering. I am in other words quite bullish

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May 1, 2014 12:00 UTC

M&A-capex inversion wrongfoots stock-pickers

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By Swaha Pattanaik

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

Resurgent business investment was supposed to lift equity markets this year. But things are not turning out as expected. The bigger beneficiaries of spendthrift chief executives appear to be takeover targets rather than firms whose earnings reflect shifts in global capital expenditure. That calls for a different investment strategy.

COMMENT

May I suggest that you develop metrics for this interesting analysis and use them to create another stock screen option on this Reuters site.

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Apr 30, 2014 14:38 UTC

BNP is latest pawn in U.S. too-big-to-jail saga

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By Dominic Elliott

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

BNP Paribas is the latest pawn in the United States’ fight to indict. France’s largest listed bank warned on April 30 that a future fine for violating U.S. sanctions on pariah countries could be “far in excess” of its $1.1 billion in provisions. But things could get nastier still.

Apr 30, 2014 13:55 UTC

WH Group flop shows pitfalls of crowded IPOs

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By Una Galani

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

WH Group’s flop shows the pitfalls of overcrowded initial public offerings. The Chinese pork producer hired a record 29 banks but still failed to sell its $1.3 billion listing to investors. That undermines the standard wisdom that more advisers mean less risk for issuers. For banks, it’s a reminder that they can share embarrassment as well as sought-after league table credit.

Apr 28, 2014 19:23 UTC

Silicon Valley exceptionalism only travels so far

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By Jeffrey Goldfarb

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

Airbnb isn’t finding New York very hospitable. The room-sharing site squared off in court last week with Attorney General Eric Schneiderman over information he has subpoenaed about the many Airbnb customers his office suspects are breaking the Empire State’s laws. It’s a good example of what happens when tech entrepreneurs stray from their more accommodating Silicon Valley environs.

COMMENT

That sort of bluster won’t resonate much beyond the tech echo chamber. Airbnb’s ride-sharing cousin, Uber, is getting a cool reception in big cities like Miami, Berlin and Paris.
Good

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Apr 23, 2014 22:06 UTC

Buffett loses his voice – and maybe some sway

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By Jeffrey Goldfarb

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

Warren Buffett lost his voice and maybe some sway along with it. The Omaha billionaire said on Wednesday he didn’t vote against Coca-Cola’s controversial equity pay plan, even though he disagreed with it. Buffett explained that he feared his opposition might be misinterpreted as a lack of support for Chief Executive Muhtar Kent. That’s an odd message to convey to his legions of investment acolytes. It doesn’t, however, mean Coke shouldn’t hear what its largest owner is saying.

COMMENT

Mr. Buffett did the right thing. 83% of votes approved of the plan and he chose not to use his outsized ownership to sway the decision of the majority. The times they are a changing. Thanks Mr. Buffett.

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Apr 22, 2014 14:29 UTC

Manchester United’s crisis has silver lining

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By Olaf Storbeck

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

Manchester United fans won’t like this, but the club’s crisis is exactly what the soccer business, and United itself, needs. A manager ditched after 10 months, a lowly seventh place in the league, an enforced absence from European football: this is the kind of drama that keeps the sport exciting and secures future revenue streams. Nothing is more boring than a league dominated by an overwhelming team.

Apr 17, 2014 20:44 UTC

Blackstone leaves a trail of money to follow

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By Jeffrey Goldfarb

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

Blackstone is leaving quite the trail of money to follow. The buyout firm led by Steve Schwarzman generated record earnings in the first quarter, in stark contrast to the slog happening on Wall Street. It’s the latest sign of a power shift from banks to shadow banks, broadly defined. Having confined big lenders, watchdogs could pick up the scent on Blackstone and its ilk.

Apr 17, 2014 17:53 UTC

Morgan Stanley gets most relief from first quarter

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By Antony Currie

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

Few banks have reported much to crow about in their first-quarter earnings. But Morgan Stanley can claim relief, at least, from the $1.45 billion in net income it unveiled on Thursday. Chief Executive James Gorman presided over a far better start to the year than in 2013, including bucking the Wall Street trend in fixed-income trading. More importantly, Gorman looks closer to hitting targets than rivals like Bank of America and Citigroup.