Apr 3, 2014 16:22 UTC

Blythe Masters could chair Glencore

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

Blythe Masters’ exit from JPMorgan with the sale of its physical commodities business could solve Glencore’s longstanding search for a chairman. The brains behind the credit default swap has the expertise to join the trading house’s board, whose all-male roll makes it an anachronism in the FTSE-100. But there is one big obstacle to her leading this or any board – she has never run a company before.

Apr 2, 2014 17:29 UTC

Virtu IPO blocked by high-frequency trading cloud

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

It’s a good thing Virtu Financial doesn’t really need to go public. The “technology-enabled market maker” is delaying its initial public offering, according to news reports. While Virtu may be different, too much of what it does sounds similar to the high-frequency trading that’s suddenly in the spotlight.

Apr 1, 2014 22:00 UTC

High-speed traders just latest market rent-seekers

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

High-speed traders are just the latest to earn opprobrium as market rent-seekers. In his new book “Flash Boys,” Michael Lewis claims they are rigging U.S. equity markets. Even Goldman Sachs Chief Operating Officer Gary Cohn acknowledges concerns. New rules, taxes or structures could reduce the high-frequency traders’ unfair advantages.

Apr 1, 2014 21:55 UTC

GM can find small comfort in Toyota’s ride

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

General Motors can find some small comfort in Toyota’s recall ride. Before Chief Executive Mary Barra was hauled up to Capitol Hill on Tuesday, the U.S. automaker summoned more vehicles back into the shop and doubled the estimated cost of fixing safety issues in the first quarter. Toyota’s expensive accelerator fiasco suggests GM’s costs will probably rise from here, but ultimately the financial fallout should be manageable. Culture may be the harder repair.

Apr 1, 2014 18:35 UTC

Rob Cox: GE should put itself up for sale

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

General Electric should sell itself. If that sounds like an April Fools’ Day joke, think again. It’s a real proposal on the ballot at the industrial group’s annual meeting. Setting aside the absence of any obvious buyer for the $260 billion company, the proposition illustrates the kind of shareholder democracy gone wild that many boards, and even some regulators, would like to squelch. They have half a point.

Apr 1, 2014 15:41 UTC

How to avoid another second-class UK privatisation

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By Robert Cole

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

Britain has ways to avoid another second-class privatisation. Royal Mail’s IPO looks awfully cheap in hindsight: shares leapt 38 percent on day one and trade at a 70 percent premium six months later. So an official post-mortem from the National Audit Office embarrasses politicians and bankers alike. Still, there are lessons for future selloffs. Sell down slowly, be more flexible in book-building, and handle retail offers carefully.

Apr 1, 2014 06:29 UTC

OCBC’s Chinese ambition comes with hefty price tag

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By Peter Thal Larsen

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

Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp is paying a hefty price to expand in the People’s Republic. The Singaporean group is realising a long-held ambition by splashing out almost $5 billion for Hong Kong’s Wing Hang bank. But the deal looks expensive at a time when growth on the mainland is slowing and the U.S. Federal Reserve’s tapering is threatening to push up deposit costs.

Mar 28, 2014 18:26 UTC

Review: Moneyball flaws can be found in finance

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By Martin Hutchinson

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

Moneyball flaws can be found in finance. “The Sabermetric Revolution,” a new book just in time for the start of the Major League Baseball season on March 30, debunks some of the numerical craze sweeping the sport. Two Smith College professors expose how many of the statistics rely on poor measurement, dodgy theory and over-extrapolating small data sets. Even good metrics tend to get arbitraged quickly. Just like on Wall Street.

Mar 28, 2014 18:20 UTC

Boards’ defender-in-chief keeps fighting last war

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By Reynolds Holding

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

Corporate boards’ defender-in-chief keeps fighting the last war. Lawyer Marty Lipton proved again at the New Orleans M&A confab that he can give as good as he gets. But prior panelists’ emphasis on improving governance and shareholder value made his swipes at activists seem dated. The legal lion’s roars are sounding more stubborn than persuasive.

Mar 28, 2014 16:49 UTC

Intesa’s spring cleaning heralds return to health

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By Dominic Elliott

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

Intesa Sanpaolo has joined rival UniCredit in mucking out the stables. The bank’s full-year results included a massive 6.8 billion euro goodwill hit on the half-dozen domestic mergers that turned it into the country’s largest retail bank. Along with a newly-created “bad bank,” the writedowns have spring-cleaned the books and will help Intesa pass the euro zone’s asset quality review and stress tests in September. But the main reason shares were up 5 percent on March 28 was the pledge that shareholders would receive 10 billion euros in cash payouts over the next four years.