Climate will supplant shale as top energy disruptor

November 27, 2015

The world’s politicians may be about to get serious on cutting greenhouse gases at the U.N. Paris confab. And shareholders are pushing Big Oil to disclose global warming risks. The consequences for the industry will be longer lasting than the recent oil production revolution.

Allianz coal ban will change investment climate

November 24, 2015

The German insurer is to pull $4.3 bln out of investment in coal companies, ditching its scepticism against blanket anti-carbon policies. This rethink suggests big asset managers are taking climate change seriously. Other carbon-heavy industries like oil and cement may be next.

Coal India offers cheap and dirty play on reform

November 19, 2015

A sale of another 10 pct of the lumbering state monopoly could raise $3 bln. It’s an appealing bet on Prime Minister Modi’s reform drive, since shaking up the power sector should lift coal demand. At current prices, a decent valuation and a fat dividend would help too.

Forget ethics, carbon divestment looks profitable

June 11, 2015

Norway’s state fund and insurer AXA are ditching carbon-rich companies. The rhetoric may be ideological, but the economic case against coal and legacy utilities is strong. They face tough challenges, even if political action against climate change remains lacklustre.

Court order adds urgency to India’s coal crunch

August 26, 2014

The Supreme Court has ruled the practice of allocating coal mines to metal and power companies to be illegal. In the long run, transparent auctions will be better. But the verdict will force the government to find a timely solution to an acute coal shortage that may now worsen.

Stanford’s snub to coal typical of Silicon Valley

By Christopher Swann
May 8, 2014

The black rock is an easy target for the university’s $18.7 bln endowment. Yet shouldn’t the principle behind it apply equally to oil producers, even local titan and Stanford donor Chevron? Like some of its grads, the university seems willing to shun certain evils only so far.

Declining U.S. coal still has bright spots

By Christopher Swann
March 19, 2012

You wouldn’t know it: coal’s share of U.S. power generation has dipped below 40 pct for the first time since 1978. Cheap gas and tougher pollution rules should extend the trend. But investors can still make winning bets if they plan for the industry’s decline.

Public investors lose in Mongol mining battle

August 10, 2012

The nomad state seems set on sinking Chinese state firm Chalco’s bid for coal miner SouthGobi. Wild as Mongolia is, a compromise is conceivable. All sides could come away with something, except for investors who bought SouthGobi shares when they were double their current value.

Coal’s slide poses broader risks for Indonesia

September 11, 2012

It’s the biggest exporter of coal for electricity, but coal accounts for only 4.4 pct of GDP. The bigger worry is that falling exports spook foreign investors, undermine a provincial boom, and hurt poor workers. With elections looming, that could ratchet up nationalist rhetoric.

Coal bubble rears head in Arch’s $3.4 bln ICG bid

By Christopher Swann
May 2, 2011

Arch Coal is paying a premium to International Coal Group that's well above the capitalized value of potential synergies. And though investors belatedly bid down shares of Arch, they have yet to fully recognize the extent of value destruction.