Breakingviews

Tesco chairman should step aside

By Chris Hughes
September 25, 2014

Richard Broadbent will struggle to restore market confidence in the UK retailer. This week’s accounting scandal compounds existing concerns about his period at the helm. The priority should be an orderly handover to the right successor. But speed matters too.

Tax clampdown could deter half-baked pharma M&A

September 23, 2014

The U.S. attack on companies relocating to avoid taxes will calm pharma’s M&A binge. Deals like AbbVie’s purchase of Shire may survive on strategic logic. Pure tax-driven combinations, like Mylan/Abbott, look tricky. That lessens AstraZeneca’s vulnerability to a bid from Pfizer.

China rich list misses most valuable asset: status

September 23, 2014

Tech stars like Alibaba’s Jack Ma and Lei Jun of Xiaomi dominate the ranks of China’s wealthy, closely followed by property magnates. But such measures are incomplete. Cash buys status for the lower ranks. For those at the top, political connections are the currency that matters.

How Big Oil could grease invisible hand

By Stephanie Rogan
September 22, 2014

“Pump” contends that democracy at the gas station would help U.S. democracy more broadly. Offering drivers fuel choices like ethanol, as Brazil did, might ease the grip of Exxon Mobil and its peers. The film makes a convincing case, even as it evades some inconvenient truths.

Alibaba IPO highlights SoftBank’s value dilemma

September 22, 2014

Following the Chinese e-commerce group’s listing, the Japanese conglomerate’s 32 pct stake is worth $75 bln. It eclipses the value of SoftBank’s core businesses. The near-5 pct drop in SoftBank’s shares after the IPO is a reminder the investment is both blessing and burden.

NFL only understands hits where they really hurt

September 19, 2014

The U.S. football league has thrown its weight around to grow into a $10 bln entertainment colossus. Victims of the sport’s violence get trampled until the likes of Anheuser and Nike play offense. Corporate America may be all that keeps the NFL from going the way of boxing.

VC bigwigs reveal Valley’s contradictions

September 19, 2014

Peter Thiel’s new book sets out possible features of the next world-changing startup that will earn its founders a monopoly – another Google, say. Ben Horowitz’s focuses on running a tech company amid fierce competition. One is about vision, the other – for most people – reality.

Scots’ no to independence still leaves UK in limbo

September 19, 2014

The roughly 55:45 vote against secession in a landmark referendum reduces many risks: financial instability, a UK exit from Europe and a sharp fall in trade. But the bribe to no-voters of more devolved powers creates other dangers – including a weakening of the union.

Australia at sharp end of China outbound ambition

September 19, 2014

Growing ties to China are a source of anxiety but the lop-sided relationship is here to stay. As Chinese buyers widen their horizons from resources to property and education, Australians have a chance to show they’re pragmatic. Beijing could help too, with a touch of soft power.

China has not one property problem, but many

September 18, 2014

Rank the biggest cities by riskiness, and huge differences become apparent. Some places face heavy oversupply, others look unaffordable, while in most prices are sliding. A national correction is unlikely, but a conflagration of local ones could be pretty nasty.