Breakingviews

Kellogg might make Heinz-style Buffett target

June 3, 2014

The $25 bln cereal giant’s stock is up on M&A talk. Kellogg may be too big for a Hillshire-like takeover battle and has too much debt for an LBO to be palatable. But an equity-rich deal like the Sage of Omaha and Brazil’s 3G cooked up last year for ketchup-maker Heinz might work.

Henry Kravis cultivates private equity perennials

May 30, 2014

U.S. firms like his are selling companies to each other at a record pace. Such deals are dubious, especially given how much capital is stockpiled. But KKR’s $1.6 bln buyout of landscaper Brickman and quick merger with rival ValleyCrest suggest the grass can indeed be greener.

Silicon Valley exceptionalism only travels so far

April 28, 2014

Airbnb has been sassing its way around New York, whose attorney general suspects the residence-sharing site’s users are breaking the law. A better lodging mousetrap and $10 bln valuation may resonate in the Valley, but it doesn’t mean nearly as much beyond the tech echo chamber.

Blackstone leaves a trail of money to follow

April 17, 2014

The buyout firm generated record quarterly earnings, in stark contrast to Wall Street’s slog. 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 Steve Schwarzman and his ilk.

Boards’ defender-in-chief keeps fighting last war

March 28, 2014

Lawyer Marty Lipton proved again at the New Orleans M&A confab that he can give as good as he gets. But prior panelists’ emphasis on improving governance and shareholder value made his swipes at activists seem dated. The legal lion is sounding more stubborn than persuasive.

Li Ka-shing de-risks with $6 bln Temasek sale

March 24, 2014

The Hong Kong tycoon has ditched plans to list his retail division by selling 25 pct to the Singaporean investor. The deal crystallizes a decent valuation for Li without the execution risk of an IPO. For Temasek, it’s a bold bet on both consumer growth and private investments.

Lego clan beats Goldman in $1.5 bln ISS float

March 14, 2014

An investment by the toymaker’s founding family helped cleaning giant ISS cut debt in 2012. At IPO this brought a 41 pct annual return. That beats the result for EQT and Goldman Sachs. They can just be glad to be out after over eight years of ownership and several failed exits.

Casting Blofeld: Wall Street’s pitchfork mob needs new villain

December 26, 2013

Bernie Madoff is doing time and Goldman Sachs has executed a successful charm offensive. The case against Jamie Dimon has struggled to take hold. Steve Cohen, the hedge fund Wizard of Oz, is nursing legal wounds. The culture of greed in finance won’t disappoint for long, though.

U.S. housing recovery could run out of steam

December 24, 2013

Banks are likely to tighten lending standards once new rules come into place in 2014. Rising interest rates may drive down home loan volume, too. Cash purchases by investors could set a floor for house prices, but they may not be enough to prevent a major slowdown.

Buzzword visionaries will rightsize the lexicon

December 24, 2013

Is a laser-like focus on jargon mission critical? Can only visionary C-suiters move the needle at the investor day or on the Davos panel? Some expressions are relentlessly taking share. Others, net-net, are past an inflection point. Breakingviews takes a deep dive.