May 26, 2014 07:16 UTC

U.S. firms get caught in China spying crossfire

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By Ethan Bilby

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

It’s almost a year since U.S. President Barack Obama and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping held a cordial “shirt-sleeves summit”. When it comes to the two countries’ internet rivalry, however, bare knuckles have replaced bare forearms. Last week’s indictment by the United States of five Chinese army officers as alleged cyber spies has prompted a backlash against American companies. China’s weapon is shutting them out from future growth.

May 24, 2014 12:34 UTC

Hacked eBay exposes itself to another attack

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By Richard Beales

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

EBay just exposed itself to another attack. Carl Icahn buried the hatchet with the online auctioneer’s board before it came out that records of 145 million customers got hacked. That means there’s an opening for another uppity investor to pressure eBay’s chief executive and directors.

May 22, 2014 19:41 UTC

Wal-Mart can win leading the way on minimum wage

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

Wal-Mart Stores can win by leading the way on the minimum wage. The mega-retailer’s labor costs would rise significantly if the U.S. government were to increase the national pay floor. But the company also has far more low-wage customers than it does employees. That would translate into a net gain in earnings, according to a Breakingviews analysis.

May 22, 2014 06:37 UTC

JD.com wins rich price despite poor governance

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By Robyn Mak 

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

JD.com has achieved a rich price despite poor governance. China’s second largest e-commerce group priced its shares above the expected range on May 21, raising $1.8 billion. Investors in the initial public offering seem unfazed that the company just disclosed a 5.3 billion yuan ($849 million) loss in the first quarter of 2014, caused by a gift of stock to the company’s chief executive officer. Such a large and unexplained act of generosity should raise red flags.

May 21, 2014 21:16 UTC

Heed New York Times governance risk headlines

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

As investors surrender rights to founders of today’s internet darlings, they may want to consider the imbroglio at the New York Times Co. It’s an excellent lesson of what can happen when once-entrusted competent leaders are gone and their successors become entrenched.

May 21, 2014 16:13 UTC

Astra-Pfizer needs a fresh start later in the year

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

AstraZeneca should not reengage with Pfizer in the dying days of the takeover timetable. Talks now would either be fruitless or delay a proper restart later.

May 20, 2014 15:35 UTC

Rob Cox: ITT’s ghost hangs over Silicon Valley

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

The number of entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley familiar with the work of Harold Geneen would hardly fill a 140-character tweet. After all, Geneen wasn’t a technologist, the inventor of a new computing language or the founder of a seminal startup. He was the original M&A machine – the man whose deal-making 50 years ago turned ITT into a multibillion-dollar conglomerate.

May 20, 2014 06:08 UTC

Alibaba tries out role of the noble monopolist

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By Ethan Bilby

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

Alibaba is trying out a new role: the noble monopolist. With an apparent 84 percent share of online consumer goods spending, it effectively owns the country’s Internet shoppers. Its payment affiliate is the biggest game in town. Both are attractions for its upcoming initial public offering. Alibaba’s long-term challenge is to keep showing that dominance helps the market rather than restricts it.

May 19, 2014 15:35 UTC

AT&T puts shareholders on hold for DirecTV

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

AT&T is putting its shareholders on hold to buy DirecTV. Its $67 billion acquisition of the satellite TV operator announced on Sunday brings with it an unexpectedly robust $1.6 billion of cost savings. Even so, these don’t quite cover the cost of the premium. In any case, AT&T says it will use the money to roll out rural broadband service. Customers and regulators are getting the first call.

May 16, 2014 19:47 UTC

Take hedge fund exuberance with grain of SALT

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

A wave of hedge fund exuberance should be taken with a grain of SALT. At SkyBridge Capital’s so-named Las Vegas confab this week, a near-unanimous confidence emerged amid moans about conference fatigue. Long-anticipated opportunities in M&A, bargains in Europe and collapsing correlations have finally arrived all at once, if some of the world’s richest investors are to be believed. The consensus itself may, however, give reason for pause.