Mar 29, 2015 12:53 UTC

Silicon Valley trials start as sexism lawsuit ends


Ellen Pao speaks to the media after losing her high profile gender discrimination lawsuit against venture capital firm Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield and Byers in San Francisco

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

A sexism case that riveted the technology and investment communities has come to an end, but Silicon Valley’s trial is only beginning. Venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers on Friday was exonerated of discrimination allegations brought by former employee Ellen Pao. Many similar lawsuits await, however, and the court of public opinion has yet to deliver its verdict.

Mar 27, 2015 16:19 UTC

Germanwings tragedy requires industry response


REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay

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

The crash of Germanwings flight 4U 9525 in the French Alps may mark a turning point in aviation history. French prosecutors say the co-pilot set the aircraft on its tragic descent while his pilot was locked out of the cockpit. It will be some time before investigations are completed. But the disaster has quickly drawn attention to a less evident aspect of flight safety – the possible risks posed by crew rather than passengers. That raises questions about procedures both across the industry, as well as at the parent Lufthansa.


The chances of a disaster like this happening again are already minimal. What percentage of commercial flights in the history of aviation have seen a pilot or other crew member deliberately kill the passengers? Maybe 0.00001%? In my view, nothing needs to be done here. This is a non-issue.

It’s not possible to completely eliminate every trace of risk from life. Everyone has to die sooner or later, one way or another. People should worry far less about ridiculously over-hyped threats to life (like plane crashes, terrorism, etc.) and worry far more about eating right, exercising, avoiding tobacco products, and so forth. You’re astronomically more likely to die from heart disease as from a crazed airline pilot, terrorist, or other such nonsense.

There’s a larger issue here than just airline security. The human tendency to deny the necessity of death has led to a world in which far too many laws and regulations exist. And what have we gained? Each of us will STILL die. However, now none of us will truly LIVE, since a life without freedom isn’t a life at all. The only parties that gain from excessive laws and regulations are power-hungry governments and their corporate allies.

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Mar 27, 2015 07:47 UTC

India’s boardroom diversity drive has weird result



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

India’s effort to break the old boys’ club is producing bizarre outcomes. Tycoons have responded to a requirement that they have at least one female board member by April 1 by appointing their wives and even stepmothers as directors. India’s corporate governance has room for improvement and gender diversity at the top can improve financial returns. But mandating change isn’t the answer.

Mar 26, 2015 22:00 UTC

Buffett-3G juggernaut can keep on truckin’


Financial investor Warren Buffett looks on during an announcement ceremony at Northwestern University in Evanston

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

Warren Buffett and 3G Capital have created a fearsome M&A machine. Wednesday’s deal to merge consumer food giants Kraft and H.J. Heinz, worth some $80 billion, marks the boldest collaboration yet between the Sage of Omaha and the investors behind AB InBev, after earlier swoops on Heinz and Tim Hortons. The only barrier to even bigger deals may be 3G’s capacity for new projects.

Mar 25, 2015 16:46 UTC
Edward Hadas

Deutsche Bank’s long round trip


REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

Deutsche Bank inserted two bold new financial targets into its annual report in 2000. Thanks to “the enhancement of our organisational structure”, the German bank committed itself to “planned annual growth in earnings per share of at least 15 percent” for the subsequent three years, and an average annual return on equity of “more than 15 percent”.

The plans did not pan out. Earnings per share in 2003 were just a quarter of what was achieved three years earlier. Deutsche did manage 6 percent annual EPS growth between 2000 and 2007, but then the financial crisis reset profitability at a much lower level. The firm eked out EPS of 1.31 euros last year, 85 percent less than in 2000. Return on equity over the past 15 years has averaged 7 percent, less than half the target level. The share price was as high as 91 euros in 2001. It closed on March 24 at barely more than a third of that, at 32.50 euros.

Mar 25, 2015 15:19 UTC

Hermes shares look too glossy


REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

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

Hermes has won many a handbag fight. In the last two years its high-end leather goods found eager buyers in most markets, despite global economic weakness. On the home front the family controlled group has freed itself from the smothering embrace of Louis Vuitton owner LVMH.

Mar 24, 2015 19:58 UTC

Google’s CFO search should have it feeling lucky


"The Reuters Breakingviews 2015 Predictions panel moderated by Reuters Breakingviews Editor Rob Cox and featuring Founder & Executive Chairman at Evercore, Roger Altman, Chief Economist & Executive Director of Global Market Insight at General Electric, Mar

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

Google’s CFO search should have it feeling lucky. There’s a dearth of executives with the financial, tech and government know-how needed to help run a $400 billion company. Even fewer women fit the bill. Silicon Valley and Wall Street just can’t find people like Morgan Stanley Chief Financial Officer Ruth Porat fast enough. The challenge is to create more like her.

Mar 23, 2015 15:05 UTC

Tronchetti and China pitch Pirelli price cleverly


REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

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

Pirelli’s would-be new owners have pitched their price cleverly. Marco Tronchetti Provera, the Italian tyremaker’s chairman and a leading shareholder, has teamed up with state-owned China National Chemical Corporation to buy and then delist the company’s shares. The deal highlights how Italian companies are up for sale to foreign owners, even at ungenerous prices.

Mar 19, 2015 18:59 UTC

Wall Street owners finally get breakup bona fides


A Bank of America ATM sign is pictured in Encinitas, California

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

The idea of big U.S. banks breaking up will finally get a public airing. The Securities and Exchange Commission is allowing Bank of America shareholders to vote at the firm’s annual meeting on whether executives should contemplate spinning off the Merrill Lynch investment bank. The watchdog previously muzzled similar requests.

Mar 18, 2015 14:45 UTC

Inditex shares no longer a bargain


REUTERS/Andrew Winning

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

Inditex is back in fashion. The Zara owner’s shares have risen more than 20 percent this year, against 7 percent for rival H&M’s. The Spanish recovery, a weakening euro and the group’s nimble business model justify a premium valuation. But at more than 30 times forward earnings, the good news is already priced in.