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.
Good

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Apr 28, 2014 15:36 UTC

Pfizer needs to do more to win AstraZeneca

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By Neil Unmack

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

Pfizer will need to pile on more pressure if it wants to buy AstraZeneca. The U.S. pharma group has confirmed that it made a $99 billion cash-and-stock approach for its UK peer in January, and is now renewing its suit. Astra Chief Executive Pascal Soriot may ultimately struggle to resist a takeover, but he ought to be able to extract a better proposal.

Apr 24, 2014 19:54 UTC

U.S. investors see yet another big acquirer as hip

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

 

U.S. investors are seeing yet another big acquirer as hip. Zimmer’s $13.4 billion deal for rival Biomet promises savings. But the maker of knee and other joint replacements and other medical devices is giving too much away for that to justify a 15 percent, or $2.3 billion, pop in its market value, before the stock slipped back slightly in Thursday morning trading. This time, enthusiastic share buyers are betting on growth.

Apr 24, 2014 17:33 UTC

Rob Cox: Coke takes fizz out of shareholder spring

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

America’s shareholder spring hit a cold patch. Just when it seemed investors were finally breaking through entrenched boards’ barricades, the owners of Coca-Cola turned to jelly, led shockingly by Warren Buffett. The failure to challenge a transfer of vast shareholder treasure to the top 5 percent of Coke’s soda jerks shows the agency problem is still alive and well in American capitalism.

Apr 24, 2014 13:52 UTC

GE/Alstom deal rumours test French reform drive

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By Pierre Briançon

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

In an ideal world where free people would roam across free markets, there would be much to like in a takeover of engineering group Alstom by General Electric. The French turbine and train maker, bailed out by taxpayer money 10 years ago, has been hit hard by the economic slump and Asian competition. Its future as a standalone company is in doubt. It needs cash that its shareholders – including Bouygues, with a 29 percent stake – are loath to fork out. Being folded into much larger GE would help it through bad times while some of its assets would fit nicely into the U.S. group.

Apr 24, 2014 06:25 UTC

China’s state firm shakeup gets it only half right

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By John Foley 

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

Private shareholders could bring discipline to China’s 150,000 or so state owned enterprises. There’s no question the companies, which generate a return on assets about half that of private sector rivals, need the help. Recent shake-ups at CITIC Group and Sinopec have set the ball rolling. But for real efficiency, SOEs need to pay market rates for debt as well as equity.

Apr 23, 2014 22:06 UTC

Buffett loses his voice – and maybe some sway

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By Jeffrey Goldfarb

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

Warren Buffett lost his voice and maybe some sway along with it. The Omaha billionaire said on Wednesday he didn’t vote against Coca-Cola’s controversial equity pay plan, even though he disagreed with it. Buffett explained that he feared his opposition might be misinterpreted as a lack of support for Chief Executive Muhtar Kent. That’s an odd message to convey to his legions of investment acolytes. It doesn’t, however, mean Coke shouldn’t hear what its largest owner is saying.

COMMENT

Mr. Buffett did the right thing. 83% of votes approved of the plan and he chose not to use his outsized ownership to sway the decision of the majority. The times they are a changing. Thanks Mr. Buffett.

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Apr 23, 2014 13:40 UTC

Coca-Cola deserves protest vote one way or another

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

Coca-Cola is set to face bubbling discontent at its annual shareholder meeting on Wednesday. Several shareholders, led by Wintergreen Advisers, object to the $180 billion drinks giant’s equity pay plan. Some, including pension funds from Ontario and Florida, want the chairman and chief executive jobs split. Nearly a quarter voted against top executives’ compensation last year. With the stock underperforming, it’s no wonder investors are grouchy.

Apr 23, 2014 05:49 UTC

WH Group’s chopped IPO still looks unappetising

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By Una Galani

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

WH Group’s chopped initial public offering still looks unappetising. The Chinese pork producer is slashing the size of its Hong Kong fundraising to as little as $1.3 billion, down from a previous target of at least $3 billion. But WH Group’s reluctance to accept a lower price means the IPO remains a tough sell.