Feb 27, 2014 06:56 UTC

SoftBank’s Alibaba stake both blessing and burden

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By Una Galani

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

SoftBank’s investment in Alibaba must be one of the most successful of all time. Billionaire chief Masayoshi Son injected just $20 million into the Chinese e-commerce giant in 2000. Today, the 36.7 percent shareholding accounts for a large chunk of Japanese group’s market value. As Alibaba heads toward an initial public offering, however, Son’s investment blessing may become a burden.

COMMENT

Not sure I buy your conclusion, but a great analysis up to that point. While you are right of course that when Alibaba goes public, investors can simply go there. But surely that doesn’t mean that the valuation of Softbank, affected as it is by Alibaba, will decrease?
If anything, it should increase since the valuation will be straightforward.

As of now there are widely varying estimates of Alibaba’s value, including yours. That uncertainty will no longer be present once the IPO is filed. On top of that, there is a good chance that Alibaba shares will rocket up after listing, since interest in it as well as projections of its future value, are huge. All of this should allow Softbank to lessen that 16% conglomerate discount.

We shall see.

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Feb 26, 2014 06:31 UTC

Japan bond investors’ overseas trip may flop again

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By Andy Mukherjee 

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

Japanese bond investors’ latest overseas trip might flop, just like last summer’s foray. That’s bad news for the investors and for Tokyo’s anti-deflation campaign.

Feb 25, 2014 22:01 UTC

At least Venezuela’s unrest is simply economics

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By Martin Hutchinson

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

Of all the countries in the world currently undergoing serious unrest, Venezuela’s problems look the easiest to resolve. It’s just economics. Broadly speaking, Ukraine’s rupture is ethnic, Thailand’s regional and Syria’s religious. By contrast, Venezuela is ethnically and religiously united. It even has oil wealth. But high inequality and growing chaos bedevil the Latin American nation – problems that can be alleviated even without wrenching political upheaval.

Feb 25, 2014 18:33 UTC
Edward Hadas

Who bails out bitcoin depositors?

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By Edward Hadas

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

Imagine that the leading stockbroker in a country closed its doors without giving any reason. Its clients would be in a panic and customers of rival firms would be very nervous. That is exactly what has happened to bitcoin, the leading pseudo-currency.

Feb 25, 2014 16:51 UTC

Italy’s Renzi has big dreams and small mandate

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By Neil Unmack

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

Italy’s new prime minister has big dreams and a small mandate. Matteo Renzi has announced ambitious reforms on a tight deadline. But his position in parliament is weaker than even his sleepy predecessor’s.

Feb 25, 2014 06:02 UTC

Weibo IPO plan stretches financial logic

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By Robyn Mak 

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

Weibo’s planned initial public offering stretches financial logic. Listing a $500 million stake in China’s version of Twitter looks like a response to sky-high tech valuations – most recently Facebook’s $19 billion acquisition of messaging service WhatsApp. But investors can already buy shares in parent Sina, whose value is mostly made up of Weibo already. They should be skeptical about the idea that two plus two is five.

Feb 24, 2014 17:18 UTC

Facebook stock is not so different from bitcoin

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By Rob Cox

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

With its extraordinary $19 billion swoop on WhatsApp last week, Facebook proved its stock is not so different from the crypto-currency of the moment, bitcoin. They can both be used for certain, specific purposes. Neither is backed by a government. Both depend on vast networks of individuals. And their worth reflects demand, which is based on murky fundamentals. The trick: monetize them while they still have value.

COMMENT

I was thinking a similar set of thoughts yesterday. not the devaluation but the true value of a Facebook in terms of influence and comparing it to a retailer like Walmart. You see people go to Walmart every day and are influenced in buying what is stacked near the door and presented by the vendors on the shelves. All of this presentation is a method which has ben calculated to make you buy more. Think of a model where a Facebook is the new influencer in a virtual retailer sense. They sell advertising and influence people to purchase various things through their social network circles. How is this different from a Walmart model? Yes it is virtual. FB can even enter a new country quite easily and if it does not work out it can exit. Walmart typically has to acquire a competitor in the new country as they need to get in with immediate scale and have bricks and mortar right away to get the good locations. So with this in mind….at 10 years old could Facebook be the new Walmart as they will be everywhere, the largest and the most influential very soon? Maybe the high valuations they are putting on FB shares are justified if you look at the potential. Or maybe I have just been influenced.

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Feb 24, 2014 14:55 UTC

Ukraine, the bailout Europe cannot shirk

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By Pierre Briançon

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

The European Union brokered the deal that triggered the end of the Yanukovich regime. With Russia angry and the United States absent, it must now lead the rescue of Ukraine’s bankrupt economy – and first decide when to act, and how.

Feb 21, 2014 20:58 UTC

Modern financial arts get special exhibition

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By Jeffrey Goldfarb

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

Modern financial arts have been given a special exhibition. Washington’s estimable Corcoran Gallery, with its de Koonings and Twomblys, is being carved up like a common conglomerate. Los Angeles played host to a hostile museum takeover bid and Detroit’s restructuring features the paintings and sculptures of the city’s art institute. A blank spreadsheet is proving just as able to inspire as a canvas.

Feb 21, 2014 03:49 UTC

Thai telco bets on yield to defy political turmoil

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By Una Galani

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

Thailand’s telecom operators are relying on yield to defy the country’s political turmoil. Escalating protests and low valuations make it an odd time for a financially healthy company like Jasmine International to pursue a $1.4 billion spinoff. Though the plan to give its broadband infrastructure assets a separate listing makes financial sense, investors may need to be tempted with sweeteners.