Breakingviews

 
China’s e-commerce colossus is hitting the road for a $100-billion-plus IPO. But a spectacular growth story comes with quirks, including bizarre governance and founder Jack Ma’s penchant for offbeat deals. Breakingviews offers a punchy primer on the risks and rewards.

Tianhe fraud claims hit at China free-rider effect

An anonymous group says the chemical group cooked its books. Yet the allegations would have been easy to verify by pre-IPO backers like Morgan Stanley. If proven, the charges will undermine the notion that big-name investors can provide insurance against China’s opaque practices.

Breakingviews: Bitty Citi

Richard Beales talks to Rob Cox about why an old Breakingviews idea – breaking up the $160 bln Citigroup – makes sense in shareholder value terms today, just as it did nine years ago.

Why Citigroup would be better in bits

Nine years ago, Breakingviews proposed slicing the giant New York bank into smaller pieces to benefit shareholders. Post-crisis, the advantages of the idea extend beyond the stock market to global regulators and even taxpayers. It’s time to revisit breaking up Citi.

Banks risk provoking EU with bonus get-arounds

Firms are paying top staff extra “allowances” in response to European bonus caps. That avoids raising base salaries and keeps costs flexible. The risk is that successful avoidance of the rules will prompt policymakers to shift the attack to pay quantum rather than pay structure.

Six steps to Alibaba's twelve-figure valuation

As the Chinese e-commerce giant launches its IPO, investors must decide what the shares are worth. Growth, profitability and stock market multiples are a factor. So are potential new businesses, though shaky governance merits a discount. Breakingviews spells out the key numbers.

Gold’s geopolitical ledge won't hold up

International tension has helped stabilise the gold price after a 2013 plunge. But the fundamentals are bad. ETF redemptions persist while bar and coin investment has dropped heavily. Jewellery demand remains soft. Consumers want cheaper gold. They are likely to get it next year.