Apr 16, 2014 06:02 UTC

Hong Kong needs to defend shareholder democracy

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By Una Galani and Peter Thal Larsen

The authors are Reuters Breakingviews columnists. The opinions expressed are their own.

Hong Kong needs to make a stand for shareholder democracy. Alibaba’s decision to shift its giant stock market listing to the United States has sparked a debate about control of public companies in the former British colony. Hong Kong’s stock exchange, whose rules wouldn’t have permitted a plan to let Alibaba insiders nominate a majority of board directors, is preparing a public consultation on shareholder rights. But dumping the principle of “one share, one vote” would be a mistake.

Apr 15, 2014 19:21 UTC

From Ally to Zoe’s, IPOs hint at back to basics

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By Robert Cyran

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

From Ally Financial to Zoe’s Kitchen, initial public offerings may be getting back to basics. Investors had an appetite for almost any new issue until last week. Six of 10 offerings couldn’t fetch the desired price and six were yanked as fear again mingled with greed. A fresh crop of eager sellers, including Moelis and Weibo, may encounter a more rational market than expected.

Apr 15, 2014 14:07 UTC

Diageo throws money at Indian empire-building

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By Robert Cole and Una Galani

The authors are Reuters Breakingviews columnists. The opinions expressed are their own.

Diageo is engaging in some expensive empire-building in India. An under-powered tender offer meant an earlier attempt to take control of Vijay Mallya’s United Spirits was only partially successful. Now the world’s biggest spirits maker has more than doubled the price it is willing to pay, offering $1.9 billion to raise its stake to 54.8 percent from 28.8 percent.

Apr 15, 2014 05:47 UTC

WH Group’s quick pork flip serves up meaty return

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By Una Galani 

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

WH Group’s quick pork flip will serve up a meaty return. The Chinese pig producer hasn’t had much time to justify the 31 percent premium it paid for rival Smithfield less than seven months ago. Yet the planned relisting of the enlarged group in Hong Kong implies the value of the U.S. business has risen at least 21 percent.

Apr 14, 2014 18:08 UTC

Citi looks perfectly priced – for more mediocrity

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By Antony Currie

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

Citigroup’s stock looks perfectly priced – for more mediocrity. The mega-bank’s $3.9 billion first-quarter profit was no disaster. Unlike JPMorgan, the firm run by Michael Corbat beat analysts’ estimates. Its bad bank, Citi Holdings, is no longer much of a drag. And the bank even managed to utilize a chunk of its substantial tax breaks and thus boost capital. For now, though, shareholders don’t have much more to cheer about.

Apr 14, 2014 06:35 UTC

China’s car joint ventures aren’t built to last

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By Ethan Bilby

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

Chinese drivers are booming in number, and foreign auto companies have cruised away with most of the sales. But access to what is now the world’s largest auto market has come with a big financial concession: joint ventures with local partners. Those alliances haven’t fulfilled Beijing’s goal of developing competitive Chinese brands. That divided interest could lead to future break-ups.

Apr 11, 2014 19:17 UTC

Comcast’s $45 bln deal warrants some utility logic

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By Jeffrey Goldfarb

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

Imagine Comcast’s $45 billion plan to buy Time Warner Cable gets the utility treatment. It isn’t a big stretch these days to liken the pipes that bring the internet into homes to those carrying water or electricity. When power companies and the like merge, though, regulators want consumers to share the spoils.

Apr 11, 2014 16:28 UTC

JPMorgan’s clean sheet already looks off-white

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By Jeffrey Goldfarb

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

JPMorgan’s clean sheet already looks off-white. For the first time in years, its quarterly earnings weren’t cluttered with special items like whale-trade losses or legal costs. The U.S. mega-bank’s $5.3 billion profit in the three months to March fell short of expectations anyway.

Apr 11, 2014 12:28 UTC

Europe’s banks lose their cover on leverage ratio

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By Dominic Elliott

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

Europe’s banks have lost their cover on the leverage ratio. European lenders used to contend that American rivals had an easier ride on newly vogue-ish equity-to-asset yardsticks. New rules published on April 8 mean they can carp no longer.

Apr 10, 2014 18:36 UTC

Icahn loses battle of bluster at eBay

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

Carl Icahn has lost the battle of bluster at eBay. The activist investor is quitting his proxy fight now that the company is appointing one new director and agreeing to talk to him. Considering Icahn had “never seen worse governance” and was broadly right about the benefits of eBay separating its PayPal unit, that’s a retreat. But he may yet win the war.