Tesco will have to fight for its independence

December 30, 2014

At $40 bln, the UK’s No. 1 grocer would be an M&A mouthful. A leveraged buyout looks tricky but strategic buyers have a rare opportunity. Tesco’s long-suffering current shareholders might jump at a chance to cash out. Much depends on the person chosen as the new chair.

JPMorgan soul-baring cuts room for error

December 24, 2014

Jamie Dimon’s bank has followed Goldman Sachs’ 2011 lead by publishing a report detailing how it has responded to crises. Amid the PR-speak are some worrying admissions and much-needed improvements. Future failures and shareholder concerns will be harder to explain away.

Mary Barra gets a second first year at GM’s wheel

December 24, 2014

The carmaker’s ignition-switch fiasco crashed her debut as CEO. The crisis may, though, have speeded up much-needed changes. Barra needs to show these will stick. She also has to prove the Motown firm is prepared for what may be some of the biggest changes the industry has faced.

Bank cyberinsurance is overdue to come of age

December 23, 2014

It’s a confusing market, but growing fast. No wonder with a huge breach at JPMorgan in 2014, never mind monsters at Sony and Home Depot. Add a Washington campaign, and insurance may become standard. As well as financial cover, that could improve security – but only at the margin.

Acquirers can expect more M&A investor skeptics

December 22, 2014

There’s no reason to think the $3.2 trln pace of deals will slow in 2015, but the uproarious reception from shareholders is already showing signs of subsiding. As easy pickings of squeezing costs from overlapping operations evaporate, the laws of corporate finance will prevail.

First case against algorithm could reboot U.S. law

December 22, 2014

A market manipulation prosecution essentially turns on whether one program duped another. That makes proving criminal intent seem futuristic at best. Similar obstacles could trip up other cases where software is the de facto defendant. Judges will tackle the issue in 2015.

More than Slim odds America Movil buys T-Mobile

December 22, 2014

Carlos Slim’s telecoms empire needs to reduce its dependence on Mexico. The fourth U.S. wireless carrier is cheap, parent Deutsche Telekom doesn’t want it and there’s strategic logic to a deal. The increasingly frightful competition in U.S. telecoms may be a sticking point.

China-U.S. shift will end Cold War peace dividend

December 22, 2014

The PRC’s military outlays may match Uncle Sam’s in 15 years, while U.S. policy paired with Russian aggression could force up EU spending. Western defense firms face more competition, but added demand. Governments may have to choose between just rearming and an all-out arms race.

Review: An Icelandic tycoon’s sorry saga

December 19, 2014

Thor Bjorgolfsson embodies Iceland’s volcanic rise and fall. He made a fortune in post-Soviet Europe, lost a bank in 2008 and caused Deutsche Bank years of grief with Actavis. This deal junkie’s memoir is self-critical in parts - but unlikely to win many new friends in Reykjavik.

Dry powder may explode in buyout barons’ faces

December 18, 2014

Everything is going up in private equity except deal volume. Acquisition multiples are at a record high, as is competition from corporate buyers. For big firms such as Apollo and Blackstone, $1.5 trln of purchasing power may be tough to deploy without cratering returns.