Breakingviews

Rob Cox: Pirelli flirts with joke version of hell

March 26, 2015

That’s where the chefs are British, the lovers Swiss and the mechanics French. Pirelli risks becoming the corporate equivalent: the management Italian (as in the joke), its owner a Chinese state enterprise, and other partners Russian. Minority investors won’t find it funny.

A fat and happy GM is a dangerous company

February 12, 2015

It’s an irony bordering on conflict of interest that Harry Wilson, who helped Uncle Sam convert debt to equity in bankruptcy, is pressing the carmaker to reduce its cash cushion. Yet absent externally imposed fiscal discipline, GM runs the risk of repeating mistakes of the past.

Uber’s law flouting could bring joyride to a halt

December 15, 2014

The taxi app company is covering drivers’ fines for illegal pick-ups. That may be just another business expense to a firm that earned a $40 bln valuation by moving quickly and breaking the rules. But the legal, lobbying and PR costs of reckless behavior are accelerating fast.

Uber flips the bird at critics with convertible

December 5, 2014

The taxi app’s valuation soared to $40 bln in its latest funding round. But a plan to issue securities that convert to stock at a discount to an IPO shows how firmly Travis Kalanick remains in the driver’s seat. Uber can raise money at a potentially massive premium.

Ford schools U.S. firms on turnarounds, succession

May 1, 2014

Alan Mulally’s almost eight years at the wheel offer a textbook case of how a company can drive itself out of the scrap yard. The automaker has also done an enviable job of paving the road for the next chief executive. It’s a story corporate America should learn from.

Carmakers indulge in sales pipe dreams again

July 11, 2011

Carlos Ghosn, Nissan's chief executive, last week predicted the company would sell 82 percent more vehicles globally in 2016 than last year. Ford boss Alan Mulally earlier targeted a 50 percent bump, while Volkswagen's Ferdinand Piech is shooting for just a tad less growth than that. If the rest of the industry is as optimistic, in about five years' time manufacturers will be producing almost 20 million more cars between them than market forecasters currently expect to be sold.

Japan Inc’s earnings problems are home grown

November 7, 2011

Something is amiss with Japan’s biggest names. Sony, Panasonic and Honda were three whose earnings were battered in the latest quarter, but they weren’t alone. Earnings at the 493 Japanese companies that announced results as of Oct. 31 were 57 percent short of their forecasts, according to Deutsche Bank. Excuses abound, from earthquakes to weak U.S. demand. But it’s problems at home that make them so susceptible.

Fiat may find Chrysler deal is ticket out of Italy

January 5, 2012

The Turin carmaker will spend 2012 working out how to acquire the rest of the Detroit firm after raising its stake to 58.5 pct. Depending on the structure, Fiat may become Italy’s first truly global multinational - but only if the Agnelli family puts pragmatism over sentimentality.

“Buy China” auto drive not just protectionism

February 29, 2012

Excluding foreign brands from new government orders looks unfair. But domestic overproduction, and the image of privileged Audi-driving officials, have created a political dilemma. When growth slows, concerns at home can seem more important than keeping trade partners happy.

U.S. natural gas looks irresistibly cheap vs oil

March 5, 2012

With crude prices rising and gas sliding further, oil is now eight times dearer than gas based on energy content - the biggest gap since the 1950s. Global shifts dictate the price of the black stuff but, as news from Detroit shows, local market forces should work on American gas.