Breakingviews

Latest blunder hits StanChart where it most hurts

August 20, 2014

New York regulators have fined the emerging markets bank another $300 mln for compliance lapses. StanChart’s biggest problem is still its misfiring strategy. But such avoidable missteps reinforce a disturbing impression that senior managers are too detached from daily operations.

BHP spin-off won’t appeal to commodity players

August 19, 2014

The mining giant plans to hive off some assets into a new company. The prices of nickel and aluminium, two of its key products, are rising. Investors could use the new firm to follow the trends. But they probably won’t. There are purer plays and better-diversified producers.

Sinopec petrol sale attracts a motley bunch

August 19, 2014

The Chinese oil giant is seeking investors for its vast network of filling stations. Retail, energy, technology and private equity groups are keen. With a price tag of $16 bln for a minority stake, they will have to club together. That will make it harder to exert influence.

German yield curve is the safest one to play

August 18, 2014

The spread between short- and long-dated bond yields keeps shrinking in the UK, United States and Germany. Stronger economic activity explains the Anglo-Saxon moves, economic weakness drives the Teutonic trend. The trade that relies on euro zone frailty looks the least risky.

Coke investment reveals half-empty idea bottle

August 15, 2014

The beverage behemoth is paying $2.2 bln for 17 pct of the trendy energy-drink maker Monster. It goes to show that even a $176 bln global powerhouse with significant distribution and marketing advantages can struggle to stay ahead. At least Coke got the deal formula right.

Alibaba deal spree turns from romance to thriller

August 15, 2014

A Hong Kong-listed movie company has revealed accounting problems four months after the e-commerce giant bought a stake. It’s not clear whether Alibaba’s controls were flawed. But investors in its upcoming IPO may be less confident about the company’s investment binge.

Venezuela digs way to distressed seller status

By Christopher Swann
August 14, 2014

The country wants to offload Citgo, its U.S. refinery and pipelines unit. It may be worth up to $15 bln, money that’s sorely needed thanks to President Nicolas Maduro’s barmy economic policies. And the drop in value of heavy-oil assets like Citgo owns makes it a bad time to sell.

IPO exuberance ensnares Deutsche, Wells Fargo

August 14, 2014

The two banks nixed a biotech deal six days after it started trading. Their reasoning looks defensible – an insider reneged on buying a big chunk of shares. But the Wall Street firms’ willingness to sell the stock in the first place smacks of a return of top-of-the-market laxity.

China data puts economists to the Rorschach test

August 14, 2014

Swings in credit, trade and investment support conflicting views about the state of the world’s number-two economy. Broadly, things look on track. But uncertainty can be damaging if it undermines the confidence of the people whose opinions matter most: consumers and depositors.

Alibaba payments cleanup makes for neater IPO

August 13, 2014

The e-commerce group has rejigged relations with its Alipay affiliate weeks before its planned listing. The move has little impact on earnings, but reduces the risk of regulatory interference. And if the business turns into a behemoth, Alibaba investors get part of that value.