Breakingviews

Biggest risk of geopolitics is as a distraction

By Edward Hadas
June 26, 2014

Fears that war and foreign policy chaos will disrupt the global economy have insidiously crept into the minds of investors, Barclays discovered. In reality, despite deterioration in the Middle East, the global balance is broadly positive. There are bigger things to worry about.

Aereo is dead, long live TV disruption

June 25, 2014

The U.S. Supreme Court says the Barry Diller-backed streaming startup violates copyright law. Legal loopholes abound, however, and investors and viewers will reward those who find ways to exploit them. The likes of CBS and Disney can’t afford to spend much time celebrating.

Next stop: Siemens-Alstom train merger

June 24, 2014

Losing the competition for Alstom’s power assets was a blessing in disguise for the German engineering group. It can now focus fully on its internal restructuring. Fixing the ailing train unit is crucial. Hiving it off to Alstom itself could well be the best solution.

Hollywood’s hopes in China rest on Youku

June 24, 2014

The Chinese website streams 400 mln videos a day, making it Netflix, YouTube and Comcast stuffed into one dumpling. For all that, Youku loses money. Yet the interests of Tinseltown and the Chinese Communist Party may be converging around its business model.

Woolworths pays too-steep ransom in Aussie battle

June 24, 2014

The South African group is buying billionaire Solomon Lew’s stake in an Australian unit in return for his support in its $2 bln takeover of retailer David Jones. The $201 mln side deal lifts the effective takeover premium – raising the pressure on Woolworths to realise synergies.

Oracle deal provides partly cloudy forecast

June 23, 2014

In a way the $5.3 bln deal for Micros is a relief for shareholders. Even if it’s the start of an M&A binge, it’s not at a crazy valuation. Then again, longtime partner Micros is more an add-on than a way to supercharge Oracle’s effort in the cloud. That challenge remains for now.

Alibaba is case study in U.S.-China legal gulf

June 23, 2014

As the Chinese ecommerce giant prepares for its U.S. IPO, a congressional group is flagging the dangers in its ownership structure. Uncertainty in PRC law is to blame. The certainty that American authorities have the right to pursue graft in China is another less obvious risk.

GE scores a Pyrrhic victory in France

June 20, 2014

The U.S. conglomerate has won the battle for Alstom’s energy businesses. It saw off nemesis Siemens and reached a truce with a hostile French state. Yet here’s a paradox: this is a clearer victory for Paris and Alstom than for GE itself. And it’s not all bad for Siemens either.

Supremes ride shotgun with Tesla down open road

June 19, 2014

The top U.S. court unanimously ruled that abstract ideas even if run through a computer can be freely adapted. Elon Musk’s electric carmaker also just opened up its technology. Both decisions spread an important message to the vicious world of patent fighting: share, don’t hoard.

Tranquil markets may lead emerging nations astray

June 19, 2014

The return of calm to bond markets is not an unalloyed boon for developing economies. With exports to rich nations stalling, many may be tempted to make use of easy-money conditions to inflate bubbles in domestic assets. Any pickup in GDP growth will be illusory.