Nov 26, 2013 17:45 UTC

U.S. trustbusting would make a great monopoly

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

America’s two federal trustbusting agencies would make a great monopoly. The U.S. Justice Department is beating the pants off its rival, the Federal Trade Commission, with pushback on headline-grabbing deals. The FTC has meanwhile scored big points protecting consumers. Leaving antitrust to DoJ would reduce costs and make both agencies more effective.

Nov 25, 2013 20:43 UTC

Chrysler IPO delay edges Fiat into driver’s seat

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

Fiat may have slipped into the driver’s seat. An autoworkers fund that owns 41.5 percent of Chrysler has been pushing for an initial public offering of the company as part of talks with its Italian partner. Chrysler’s board has now decided to delay the stock sale until next year, suggesting Fiat’s negotiating position has improved.

Nov 19, 2013 08:09 UTC

Aussie dairy battle needs cheap debt to stack up

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By Ethan Bilby

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

Australia’s dairy battle needs cheap debt to stack up. Three bids in as many days for Australia’s Warrnambool have lifted the price tag above A$500 million ($469 million). Local cost savings and projections of China’s thirst for foreign milk help justify the frenzy. But the investment case rests on low borrowing costs.

Nov 14, 2013 18:41 UTC

Snapchat bid triples Facebook’s desperation

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By Robert Cyran

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

Facebook’s Snapchat bid shows triple the desperation. The social network shelled out $1 billion for no-revenue Instagram a little over a year ago. Now it’s said to be dangling as much as $3 billion to lure in a mobile app that sends self-destructing digital images. Facebook’s apparently escalating need to buy off marauders at its moat suggests its defenses may be scalable.

COMMENT

It is an indication that the technology-bubble is alive and well. Eliminating competition has always been a basic premise of market economics so the business practices of Facebook are not so much a behavioral anomaly but almost an industry-standard. Even overpaying for a business property that enhances monopoly power is a practice that has made Google, Microsoft and Cisco Systems very successful in the technology sector, and all three have had tremendous corporate success doing it. So (as the author notes), it remains to be seen how this will work out for Facebook in the long term. But the operating margins in gaining and maintaining technology monopolies may be so high, that there is plenty of room for error so that what seems now to be outright desperation in controlling competitive technology threats may turn out to be prescient foresight.

And who would have thought…?

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Nov 13, 2013 07:44 UTC

Four ways to tell China is serious about markets

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By John Foley 

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

China’s new buzzword is “decisive”. That’s how the ruling party described the role it wants markets to play in the economy. It’s hard to see whether it’s more than just talk. But there are four visible ways to tell whether China means business.

Nov 11, 2013 16:35 UTC

Shire adds to premium valuation with toppy deal

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By Neil Unmack

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

Markets must like Shire’s boldness. Shares of the UK pharmaceutical firm jumped almost 4 percent on the news it would acquire ViroPharma, even though it agreed to pay an eye-watering nine times this year’s sales for the biotech group.

Oct 31, 2013 21:01 UTC

PwC-Booz merger adds up to a major culture clash

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By Kevin Allison

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

PricewaterhouseCoopers’ proposed takeover of strategy firm Booz & Co would be the most prominent example yet of a Big Four auditor bulking up on consulting. But restrictions enacted after the massive Enron scandal of 2001 mean advisory-services staffers could end up brawling with accountants over clients. While mid-sized Booz may feel pressure to compete with rivals like Boston Consulting Group and McKinsey, the proposed deal with PwC risks a huge culture clash.

Oct 23, 2013 04:13 UTC

Li Ka-shing still has what investors want

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By Una Galani

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

Li Ka-shing may be an octogenarian but he still knows when to buy and sell. An analysis of 16 listed parts of the Hong Kong tycoon’s telecoms-to-energy empire, with a combined market capitalization of more than $170 billion, shows a mixed record of delivering shareholder returns. Yet Li’s flagship holding companies have matched or beaten the market over the past two and five years. For investors, it pays to invest as close as possible to the man himself.

Oct 21, 2013 07:56 UTC

Li Ka-shing still has options after ParknShop flop

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By Una Galani

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

Li Ka-shing’s sale of ParknShop has flopped, but he still has other options. The tycoon’s holding company, Hutchison Whampoa, shelved a potential sale of the Hong Kong supermarket chain, after targeting an ambitious valuation of over $3 billion. But there are other ways to raise funds. ParknShop might be more palatable if Li can bundle it up with more attractive assets from his group.

Oct 16, 2013 08:04 UTC

Thai mogul emerges on top in supermarket swap

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By Una Galani

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

Thailand’s richest man has emerged on top in a Chinese supermarket swap. Dhanin Chearavanont, whose conglomerate picked up a stake in insurer Ping An and acquired cash-and-carry group Siam Makro earlier this year, is offloading the bulk of his loss-making retail operations in China in return for shares in local rival Wumart Stores. Both sides benefit from the deal worth HK2.9 billion ($373 million) but Dhanin is ahead by an aisle.