Samsung shows investors it can be generous too

October 29, 2015

The South Korean group plans to buy back stock worth $10 bln and pay out up to half of its free cash flow in dividends. That will shrink its cash pile and may help the Lee family reorganise their empire. It’s a small but welcome sign that restructuring can benefit shareholders.

Google learns ABCs of conglomerate life

August 11, 2015

The web search giant is separating cars, balloons and such from its main ad businesses under a new Berkshire Hathaway-like structure called Alphabet. The move suggests Google sees how its sprawl spells trouble. It’s an easy way to erase some, but not all, the valuation discount.

South Korean M&A quirks hold perils for investors

June 24, 2015

A $9.2 bln merger led by Samsung’s holding company has cast a spotlight on the country’s peculiar stock market rules. The dealmaking shows the limits of measures designed to protect independent investors and how the wider system is stacked in favour of the chaebols.

Li Ka-shing converts to shareholder value religion

January 12, 2015

Asia’s richest man is splitting his empire in two: a property company, and everything else. The reshuffle should help shrink the conglomerate discount while allowing Li to leverage up in real estate. It’s an overdue recognition there is value to unlock in the $85 billion empire.

Energizer split leaves biggest problem intact

April 30, 2014

The struggling $7 bln batteries-to-tampons group plans to separate into household and personal care companies. That may improve focus, but it’s hard to see how it addresses Energizer’s main challenge: mustering more resources to take on industry gorilla Procter & Gamble.

Congratulations Google, you’re now a conglomerate

February 15, 2012

U.S. and EU antitrust authorities have cleared the search firm’s $12.5 bln purchase of Motorola. Its hardware foray might open new markets - or be a vital means of defending its advertising business. But on Wall Street, diversification like this merits a valuation discount.