Apr 22, 2014 13:05 UTC

Dawn raid makes comeback via activist drone strike

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By Robert Cyran and Richard Beales
The authors are Reuters Breakingviews columnists. The opinions expressed are their own.

Remember the dawn raid, when a would-be acquirer built up a stake before the target realized it was under attack? Activist investor Bill Ackman has come up with a kind of drone strike version. His Pershing Square Capital Management hedge fund and Valeant Pharmaceuticals have teamed up to grab a potential 9.7 percent stake in Allergan, with a hostile takeover by Valeant ready for deployment.

Apr 22, 2014 06:52 UTC

Graft purges don’t hurt shareholders – insiders do

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By John Foley 

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

China Resources chairman Song Lin has been sacked for disciplinary violations, leaving an empire with $150 billion in assets leaderless. Though China’s state-company bosses will quake in their loafers, the damage to investors looks manageable. The real problem is a wider culture that treats outside shareholders as an afterthought.

Apr 21, 2014 18:27 UTC

Barrick’s empire building deserves skeptical eye

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

Barrick Gold’s interest in a $33 billion merger with rival Newmont Mining deserves a skeptical eye. The world’s top gold miner by ounces produced is keen on a deal with the industry No. 2, according to news reports. Barrick’s outgoing founder and chairman, Peter Munk, admitted to “hubris” in past deals. Ex-Goldman Sachs banker John Thornton, who takes over next month, faces a considerable challenge convincing shareholders this won’t be another value-destroyer.

Apr 17, 2014 20:44 UTC

Blackstone leaves a trail of money to follow

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By Jeffrey Goldfarb

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

Blackstone is leaving quite the trail of money to follow. The buyout firm led by Steve Schwarzman generated record earnings in the first quarter, in stark contrast to the slog happening on Wall Street. It’s the latest sign of a power shift from banks to shadow banks, broadly defined. Having confined big lenders, watchdogs could pick up the scent on Blackstone and its ilk.

Apr 17, 2014 17:53 UTC

Morgan Stanley gets most relief from first quarter

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By Antony Currie

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

Few banks have reported much to crow about in their first-quarter earnings. But Morgan Stanley can claim relief, at least, from the $1.45 billion in net income it unveiled on Thursday. Chief Executive James Gorman presided over a far better start to the year than in 2013, including bucking the Wall Street trend in fixed-income trading. More importantly, Gorman looks closer to hitting targets than rivals like Bank of America and Citigroup.

Apr 16, 2014 17:34 UTC

BofA loss provides valuable mega-bank perspective

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By Antony Currie

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

Anemic results underscore how little fun it is to run a mega-bank these days. A $276 million loss from Bank of America announced on Wednesday, however, at least provides some valuable perspective.

Apr 16, 2014 14:58 UTC

Credit Suisse still firing on one cylinder

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By Dominic Elliott

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

Credit Suisse is firing on one cylinder. The Swiss lender’s reshaped private banking arm is pulling in more money. But an 11 percent year-on-year dip in quarterly investment banking revenue shows its other main unit is still sputtering.

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.