Apr 1, 2014 06:29 UTC

OCBC’s Chinese ambition comes with hefty price tag

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By Peter Thal Larsen

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

Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp is paying a hefty price to expand in the People’s Republic. The Singaporean group is realising a long-held ambition by splashing out almost $5 billion for Hong Kong’s Wing Hang bank. But the deal looks expensive at a time when growth on the mainland is slowing and the U.S. Federal Reserve’s tapering is threatening to push up deposit costs.

Mar 28, 2014 18:26 UTC

Review: Moneyball flaws can be found in finance

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By Martin Hutchinson

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

Moneyball flaws can be found in finance. “The Sabermetric Revolution,” a new book just in time for the start of the Major League Baseball season on March 30, debunks some of the numerical craze sweeping the sport. Two Smith College professors expose how many of the statistics rely on poor measurement, dodgy theory and over-extrapolating small data sets. Even good metrics tend to get arbitraged quickly. Just like on Wall Street.

Mar 28, 2014 18:20 UTC

Boards’ defender-in-chief keeps fighting last war

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By Reynolds Holding

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

Corporate boards’ defender-in-chief keeps fighting the last war. Lawyer Marty Lipton proved again at the New Orleans M&A confab that he can give as good as he gets. But prior panelists’ emphasis on improving governance and shareholder value made his swipes at activists seem dated. The legal lion’s roars are sounding more stubborn than persuasive.

Mar 28, 2014 16:49 UTC

Intesa’s spring cleaning heralds return to health

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By Dominic Elliott

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

Intesa Sanpaolo has joined rival UniCredit in mucking out the stables. The bank’s full-year results included a massive 6.8 billion euro goodwill hit on the half-dozen domestic mergers that turned it into the country’s largest retail bank. Along with a newly-created “bad bank,” the writedowns have spring-cleaned the books and will help Intesa pass the euro zone’s asset quality review and stress tests in September. But the main reason shares were up 5 percent on March 28 was the pledge that shareholders would receive 10 billion euros in cash payouts over the next four years.

Mar 27, 2014 18:18 UTC

Baxter puts conscious uncoupling on pharma radar

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

Baxter International has put conscious uncoupling on pharma’s radar. The $40 billion healthcare giant is separating its biotech and medical products units. Baxter’s spinoff history suggests this latest move will create value for shareholders. This, and the success of Pfizer’s and Abbott’s recent splits, will encourage other pharma giants to follow.

Mar 26, 2014 17:20 UTC

Time for Sheryl Sandberg to lean out of Facebook

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

The time has come for Sheryl Sandberg to lean out of Facebook. Not because the social network’s chief operating officer has done a poor job – quite the contrary. She was the adult supervisor as Mark Zuckerberg’s dorm room creation became a $165 billion enterprise. The founder is now doing his own thing, as his latest acquisition shows. For Sandberg, that makes him more of a liability.

Mar 26, 2014 14:53 UTC

Roman corporate governance purge could backfire

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By Neil Unmack

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

Rome’s corporate governance purge could backfire. The Italian Treasury wants state-controlled companies to force anyone under criminal investigation for financial crimes off boards of directors. The intention is laudable, but the plan is ill-conceived.

Mar 26, 2014 06:10 UTC

Zuckerberg grabs at alternate financial reality

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By Richard Beales

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

Mark Zuckerberg is liking a lot of deals. Right after spending $19 billion on WhatsApp, the Facebook founder is splashing out $2 billion – and possibly more – in cash and stock on a virtual reality newcomer, Oculus VR. It’s arguably a riskier punt than the messaging app. Both deals also suggest a buy, not build, approach.

Mar 25, 2014 18:16 UTC

Dimon deputy epitomizes succession of all sorts

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

Jamie Dimon’s loss of a top deputy on Tuesday epitomizes succession issues of all sorts. Key lieutenant Mike Cavanagh has given up a shot at following his mentor atop JPMorgan for one helping run private equity firm Carlyle Group. The move shakes up leadership plans for both companies and also underscores a bigger shift in finance.

Mar 25, 2014 18:02 UTC

Activists crash dealmaker party

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

Activists are crashing the dealmaker party. Shareholder lawsuits, cross-border mergers and defender-in-chief Marty Lipton will play supporting roles at the annual New Orleans confab for M&A attorneys and bankers. Aggressive investors shaking dozy boards are this year’s headliners. Their increasing presence at the gathering reinforces a growing power.