May 2, 2014 08:10 UTC

Macquarie shows Wall St rivals a mirror image

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By Peter Thal Larsen

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

Attention, Wall Street investment banks. One of your rivals has just reported a 49 percent jump in full-year earnings, fuelled by unfashionable businesses like trading commodities and asset finance. It earns a double-digit return on equity with lower-than-average leverage. Oh, and its shares are up 50 percent in the past twelve months.

May 1, 2014 17:27 UTC

Astra has small tactical advantage over Pfizer

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By Christopher Hughes and Neil Unmack
The authors are Reuters Breakingviews columnists. The opinions expressed are their own.

Time often benefits bidders rather than targets – that’s why U.S.-based food group Kraft left Cadbury flailing for months after making a takeover approach for its UK competitor. But the dynamics of Pfizer’s interest in rival pharmaceuticals group AstraZeneca are unusual. Pfizer has good reason to seek a quick, agreed deal.

May 1, 2014 17:10 UTC

Ford schools U.S. firms on turnarounds, succession

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By Antony Currie and Kevin Allison
The authors are Reuters Breakingviews columnists. The opinions expressed are their own.

The end of Alan Mulally’s reign at Ford is corporate America’s opportunity to learn. In almost eight years as chief executive, the former Boeing executive not only engineered a textbook case in how to drive a company out of the scrap yard. He, along with Executive Chairman Bill Ford and the rest of the board, also did an enviable job of paving the way for his successor.

COMMENT

It always makes sense to invest in auto companies where the founding family still has a strong stake. They can make the tough decisions when necessary. BMW is another example.

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Apr 30, 2014 20:09 UTC

Exelon is overpaying, even with the sandbagging

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

Just about any way investors crunch the numbers, Exelon looks to be overpaying for Pepco. The utility appears to be low-balling the projected cost savings from its purchase of Washington, D.C.-based Pepco for $6.8 billion. But modesty won’t fool regulators. They always demand a cut through lower electric bills. Yet even assuming Exelon is sandbagging, it will struggle to justify the premium it is offering.

Apr 30, 2014 18:05 UTC

Energizer split leaves biggest problem intact

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

Energizer’s split into household and personal care companies should improve the $7 billion firm’s focus. It could also make one of the newly independent businesses an acquisition target. But the proposed transaction doesn’t address the batteries-to-tampons group’s bigger challenge: mustering more resources to take on industry gorilla Procter & Gamble.

Apr 30, 2014 14:38 UTC

BNP is latest pawn in U.S. too-big-to-jail saga

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By Dominic Elliott

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

BNP Paribas is the latest pawn in the United States’ fight to indict. France’s largest listed bank warned on April 30 that a future fine for violating U.S. sanctions on pariah countries could be “far in excess” of its $1.1 billion in provisions. But things could get nastier still.

Apr 30, 2014 13:55 UTC

WH Group flop shows pitfalls of crowded IPOs

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By Una Galani

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

WH Group’s flop shows the pitfalls of overcrowded initial public offerings. The Chinese pork producer hired a record 29 banks but still failed to sell its $1.3 billion listing to investors. That undermines the standard wisdom that more advisers mean less risk for issuers. For banks, it’s a reminder that they can share embarrassment as well as sought-after league table credit.

Apr 29, 2014 18:58 UTC

WH Group’s pulled pork IPO is least bad outcome

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

This little piggy isn’t going to the market after all. WH Group has scrapped its Hong Kong listing after investors turned their noses up at its valuation. The Chinese pork producer had already more than halved the size of the fundraising to as little as $1.3 billion. A delay which gives the company formerly known as Shuanghui more time to integrate its U.S. subsidiary Smithfield is probably the least bad outcome.

Apr 29, 2014 06:46 UTC

Pfizer tax arbitrage will hasten more deals

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By Robert Cyran

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

Pfizer’s $99 billion tax arbitrage bid will encourage copycats. The biggest charm of the U.S. drug giant’s offer for AstraZeneca of the UK lies in switching to a lower-tax domicile. The latest and largest such deal to hit the headlines raises the odds Congress will tighten rules – but not yet.

Apr 28, 2014 19:23 UTC

Silicon Valley exceptionalism only travels so far

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By Jeffrey Goldfarb

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

Airbnb isn’t finding New York very hospitable. The room-sharing site squared off in court last week with Attorney General Eric Schneiderman over information he has subpoenaed about the many Airbnb customers his office suspects are breaking the Empire State’s laws. It’s a good example of what happens when tech entrepreneurs stray from their more accommodating Silicon Valley environs.

COMMENT

That sort of bluster won’t resonate much beyond the tech echo chamber. Airbnb’s ride-sharing cousin, Uber, is getting a cool reception in big cities like Miami, Berlin and Paris.
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