Jan 23, 2014 18:29 UTC

BlackRock may fancy revisiting Blackstone heritage

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

Is it time for BlackRock to revisit its Blackstone heritage? Larry Fink’s investment company manages $4.3 trillion while Steve Schwarzman’s, with only 6 percent of the assets, probably generated the same amount of profit last year. That has to make private equity tempting for BlackRock. It could one day buy a firm like, say, TPG.

Jan 23, 2014 12:08 UTC

Banks can gain as well as lose from fund usurpers

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By Neil Unmack

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

Asset managers are making inroads into the corporate lending market. Banks once looked on these “direct lenders” as rivals. But working with funds can help banks manage refinancing risks, and retain clients as they deleverage.

Jan 23, 2014 05:38 UTC

Audit spat pokes hole in China’s financial edifice

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By John Foley

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

China’s legal grey areas have been a source of enormous wealth for investors. Now a U.S. judge is threatening to poke a hole in the entire edifice. The Chinese units of the world’s biggest four auditors face a six-month suspension from auditing U.S.-listed companies after the judge decided they wilfully refused to hand over documents on Chinese clients to U.S. regulators. It’s hard to fault his logic, but upholding the rules could bring a huge cost.

Jan 22, 2014 19:44 UTC

Loeb wrestles Sotheby’s over new art paradigm

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

Dan Loeb is wrestling Sotheby’s over a new art paradigm. The Third Point founder reckons, essentially, that the listed auctioneer should be more like privately held arch-rival Christie’s. The $3.5 billion Sotheby’s, whose stock is up more than 40 percent over the past year, is hardly a basket-case. Its total auction sales increased 19 percent in 2013 to top $5 billion, outgrowing the larger Christie’s. Unusually for an activist investor – typically an analytical breed focused on the here and now – Loeb’s main beef with the company seems to be over the direction and pace of broad art market trends.

Jan 21, 2014 19:38 UTC

Dan Loeb puts the right accelerant in Dow Chemical

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

Dan Loeb is putting the right accelerant into Dow Chemical. The $52 billion U.S. chemistry giant’s shares jumped more than 7 percent at one point on Jan. 21 after the activist investor called for a split of its petrochemicals and specialty chemicals businesses. Loeb may be overly optimistic about the financial benefits, but a rough sum-of-the-parts suggests merely breaking Dow up could boost its value by a fifth.

Jan 21, 2014 14:59 UTC

Unilever washes off emerging-market uncertainties

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By Robert Cole

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

Emerging-market uncertainties are washing off Unilever. Currencies are working against it: groupwide earnings were knocked by 7 percent thanks to exchange-rate swings across the globe. But forex aside, the trends in developing economies remain firmly positive. The declines in developed markets’ revenues and profits are more worrying.

Jan 17, 2014 19:16 UTC

Citigroup needs to channel boardroom aggression

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

Citigroup boss Mike Corbat needs to channel some of the aggression from his boardroom. At $2.6 billion, the mega-bank is alone falling short of estimates among peers who have reported fourth-quarter earnings so far. It leaves Citi with a weak return on equity and market valuation. Corbat, who rose to power by way of a harsh coup, can’t rely on cost cuts. He’ll have to scrap for revenue.

Jan 16, 2014 17:44 UTC

Googleization of Yahoo hits pricey speed bump

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

The Googleization of Yahoo has hit a pricey speed bump. Chief Executive Marissa Mayer has fired the chief operating officer she lured from her former employer, costing Yahoo as much as $60 million for Henrique de Castro’s 15 months on the job. She may have made the right call, but it’s a reminder that a sprinkling of Googledust won’t on its own get Yahoo growing again.

Jan 16, 2014 14:58 UTC

Deutsche is wasting its Libor crisis

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By Dominic Elliott and Olaf Storbeck

The authors are Reuters Breakingviews columnists. The opinions expressed are their own.

Deutsche Bank is wasting a crisis. In September 2012, newly appointed co-Chief Executives Juergen Fitschen and Anshu Jain said the German lender would be at the forefront of cultural change in the banking industry. That goal keeps moving away from them.

Jan 15, 2014 17:29 UTC

GM’s dividend hits right spot on multiple levels

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By Antony Currie

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

General Motors is hitting the right spot on several levels with its return to paying a common stock dividend. The $1.7 billion annual payout looks punchy at some 30 percent of what analysts reckon the company’s net income will be for 2013. Ford Motor, after all, restarted its shareholder payouts at a more cautious 10 percent of profit just over two years ago and only last week took it up to around a third. But GM looks positioned to handle it.