Jul 1, 2014 18:30 UTC

U.S. cooks up penalties with anti-foreign flavor

Photo

By Reynolds Holding

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

Uncle Sam is cooking up penalties with an anti-foreign flavor. New research suggests that overseas firms like BNP Paribas do in fact pay bigger fines and plead guilty more often than U.S. companies. One reason may be that prosecutors target only the most serious cases abroad. But the differences feed suspicions that America is playing favorites.

COMMENT

Could you do us a favor and give a reference to the Univ. of Virginia law school study instead of keeping it hidden from view. People would like to read the study itself, instead of hearing your opinion about what it said. BNP was breaking the law, and was nailed. Your argument seems to be that the penalties are too high. But is your comparison correct? Yes, perhaps US banks have lower penalties, but have US banks been trading with Iran, Cuba and other probated nations? If not, then why should their penalties be as high as for banks that do?

Posted by WestFlorida | Report as abusive
Jul 1, 2014 15:15 UTC

Solving the second-class stock conundrum

Photo

By Rob Cox

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

Over dinner in San Francisco recently, an activist investor and an internet entrepreneur got into a heated discussion. The two men, with a gap of about two decades between them, were debating the practice of many young, growth businesses in the technology world – though it happens elsewhere too – to issue multiple classes of stock, generally one for hoi polloi investors in public offerings and another for founders and other insiders with super-charged voting powers.

COMMENT

Shareholders need more say not less, especially on executive compensation.

Posted by QuietThinker | Report as abusive
Jul 1, 2014 11:07 UTC

BNP’s Prot should go

Photo

By Pierre Briançon

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

Baudouin Prot should go. The French establishment has circled the wagons, and there is little chance that the chairman of BNP Paribas, who was the bank’s chief executive at the time of the criminal activities it just admitted to, will resign or be asked to. He will then fail to do the decent thing after the bank’s unprecedented guilty plea and near-$9 billion fine.

Jul 1, 2014 06:14 UTC

Private equity’s bad habit: Asian minority stakes

Photo

By Una Galani

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

Private equity firms have developed a bad habit in Asia. They are investing record amounts in minority stakes in listed companies. Investors dislike such deals because they can buy the shares themselves. History also suggests that giving up control is fraught with risks.

COMMENT

With risk comes reward and as Asia continues to be a major engine of continued global economy growth, the PE investments may prove to be succintly sound.

Posted by Kizi_da_Grizzly | Report as abusive
Jun 30, 2014 19:20 UTC

Evonik in $400 mln soccer deal it doesn’t need

Photo

By Olaf Storbeck

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

Evonik’s 300 million euro ($400 million) tie-up with Bundesliga soccer team Borussia Dortmund (BVB) has little merits for the company’s shareholders. Germany’s third-largest chemical company hopes that the alliance with the club will turn its brand into a global household name. The snag is that Evonik doesn’t do any business with end users.

Jun 30, 2014 14:21 UTC

Philips lighting split is a bright idea

Photo

By Dominic Elliott

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

A lighting split at Philips is a bright idea. The Dutch electronics group, which makes everything from defibrillators to air purifiers, has already spent years restructuring, pulling back from areas like televisions and home audio. Now Philips is moving its high-powered LED and car lights components operations into a standalone unit. Stepping out of their parent’s shadow should help the fast-growing businesses attract outside capital.

Jun 27, 2014 19:29 UTC

Soros takes sub-quantum leap into activism

Photo

By Christopher Swann

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

Is George Soros turning activist? His $29 billion hedge fund has famously confronted governments. But facing off with a $1 billion U.S. oil and gas company is novel. The move gives underperforming corporate bosses another scourge to fear.

COMMENT

A family hedge fund worth $29 billion? As such, the fund is not required to file reports with the FCC, but it is OK to go after companies that are. How is this fair to public companies and their shareholders? Is Soros using high frequency trading and offshore dark pools to further tilt the playing field in his favor?

This type of fund is the best argument that I know of to enlarge the “estate tax” and use some of the proceeds for government regulation of these predatory behaviors. If this is not done, in the not to distant future we can look forward to the national dominance of yet another aristocratic class, if we are not there already.

Didn’t western civilization try this before? The social imbalances created led to centuries of warfare, including the development of fascism in the 20th century. I doubt that this is an outcome that Mr. Soros intends.

Posted by mudinyoureye | Report as abusive
Jun 27, 2014 19:16 UTC

Barclays’ hit reflects investment bank fears

Photo

By Dominic Elliott

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

The market’s reaction to accusations that Barclays duped clients in its dark pool reflects more general fears of investment banking. Shares in the UK bank tanked as much as 9 percent on June 26 after New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman alleged Barclays misled investors by playing down the number of “predatory” high-frequency traders on its private trading platform for equities. Barclays says it takes the allegations “very seriously.”

Jun 26, 2014 21:47 UTC

U.S. drought could spark economic water warfare

Photo

By Kevin Allison and Antony Currie

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

The withering drought afflicting California and the southwest United States could spark economic warfare over water. Scarce rains have left large swaths of the country dry for, in some areas, several years. That’s happening as industries from beverages to semiconductors grow concerned about whether they will have adequate access to water in the future. For cities and states situated around the Great Lakes, as well as water technology firms, it presents a flood of opportunities.

COMMENT

The problem is solvable if rational thinking is applied however with the current political climate in the US the water issue has the potential to become a national crisis.

Posted by Patriot53 | Report as abusive
Jun 26, 2014 11:51 UTC
Edward Hadas

Biggest risk of geopolitics is as a distraction

Photo

By Edward Hadas

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

Investors consider geopolitics the most important risk to financial markets over the next year. That judgment, reported in a Barclays survey this week, shows people taking greater cues from headlines than numbers.