Sep 26, 2013 20:03 UTC

Ackman has Air Products catalyst, now for reaction

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

Activist investor Bill Ackman has quickly dislodged Air Products and Chemicals’ underperforming boss, John McGlade. The win brought him a sharp gain of $100 million on his 10 percent holding in the natural gas firm as investors initially reacted to the news. For bigger, more lasting success, however, a painstaking transformation of the company is now needed.

Sep 26, 2013 15:06 UTC

We need to talk about Jamie Dimon

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By Antony Currie and George Hay
The authors are Reuters Breakingviews columnists. The opinions expressed are their own.

JPMorgan has shelled out some $20 billion in legal costs since 2010. Billions more are possibly coming to settle a raft of outstanding U.S. government charges. Chief Executive Jamie Dimon is part of the problem, but also presides over one of the best-performing firms in the industry. Breakingviews imagines how Lee Raymond, JPMorgan’s lead independent director and former chief executive of Exxon Mobil, might lay out the dilemma for the bank’s two new board members.

Sep 25, 2013 13:19 UTC

Billionaire offers YouTube clue to U.S. torpor

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

Ray Dalio is offering a YouTube clue to U.S. economic torpor. The billionaire founder of the $150 billion hedge fund Bridgewater Associates argues that Uncle Sam is stuck in a deleveraging recession. Federal Reserve policy largesse, meanwhile, keeps prices stable as debt declines. It’s a useful idea.

Sep 24, 2013 18:38 UTC

M&A diplomacy features in $29 bln tech deal

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

Applied Materials and Tokyo Electron have showcased M&A diplomacy in their $29 billion deal. The U.S.-based producer of semiconductor-making equipment heeded local sensitivities and ceded governance duties in the proposed acquisition of its Japanese rival. At the same time, most of the financial benefits will accrue to its own shareholders. The merger is a delicate inauguration of Abenomics-style corporate reform.

Sep 24, 2013 12:04 UTC

No quick fix for long-term bonus plans

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By Robert Cole

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

Fidelity Worldwide wants long-term bonus plans to be just that – “long term” as much as “bonus.” For the asset manager, that means forbidding executives from cashing in their awards for five years – even if share grants have vested earlier. It’s hard to argue with this. But the policy would have side effects and need careful implementation.

Sep 23, 2013 17:33 UTC

BlackBerry washout leaves a white-collar stain

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

The dawn of the new millennium brought a gadget like no other. More than a cellphone, the BlackBerry offered users something novel in the blossoming age of email: liberation from the desk. This made it the device of choice for a rich and mobile class, eventually spawning an aspirational market beyond Wall Street. Fittingly, BlackBerry’s demise is occurring with the device as little more than a mark of white-collar servitude.

Sep 20, 2013 14:26 UTC

Foxtons makes fittingly brash London market debut

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By Quentin Webb

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

Foxtons has made a fittingly brash market debut. The famously pushy London estate agent floated at the top of its price range, for a 649 million pound ($1.04 billion) valuation. A 21 percent bounce in the stock quickly added almost 140 million pounds more in value. Never mind the eye-watering prices for London houses: big investors clearly think the capital’s property market is unstoppable.

Sep 19, 2013 20:09 UTC

Old HP sets breakup example for new HP

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

The old Hewlett-Packard has set a breakup example for the new Hewlett-Packard. Spun off in 1999 with the company’s original testing products and research DNA, Agilent Technologies is considered by Silicon Valley veterans as the “real HP.” It has outperformed its former parent and is now splitting to create yet more value. HP can learn from its progeny.

Sep 19, 2013 14:28 UTC

JPMorgan pays price for embarrassing regulators

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By Rob Cox and Antony Currie
The authors are Reuters Breakingviews columnists. The opinions expressed are their own.

The first rule in banking, even before know thy customer, is never aggravate your regulator. JPMorgan is usefully illustrating the importance of this dictum by paying through the nose for embarrassing the many agencies charged with overseeing the largest U.S. bank by assets. Though the many fines the firm is paying are unlikely to cost Chief Executive Jamie Dimon his job, they provide a useful lesson in the importance of hubris management.

Sep 18, 2013 20:29 UTC

Jefferies shows fixed income isn’t for everyone

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

Jefferies shows that fixed income isn’t necessarily for everyone. The revenue the U.S. investment bank generated from trading bonds, currencies and commodities slumped 85 percent, to just $33 million, in the three months to September. That’s a far bigger drop than its larger rivals across Wall Street are expecting. As a relative newcomer, Jefferies appears to be struggling with volatility. The same may prove true for others that are downsizing their FICC businesses.