Stumpf exit necessary but not quite sufficient

October 12, 2016

The Wells Fargo CEO's "retirement" was inevitable, though it came quickly. It clears the way for his successor to fix the culture that led to millions of fake accounts being opened. Along with the $228 bln lender's board, veteran Tim Sloan has to show he can break with the past.

Minority investors should check the returns policy

September 7, 2016

Sports Direct's shareholders are being trampled by a strong entrepreneur with a 55 pct stake. Italian luxury brand Prada has a similar issue: entrenched founders whose strategy isn’t working. Big shareholders can benefit companies, but other investors end up stuck if things sour.

Fund managers take long view by scrapping bonuses

August 23, 2016

Star investor Neil Woodford is paying his staff fixed salaries, while former trade body head Daniel Godfrey is launching a trust on the same principle. Fund costs won't necessarily fall. But a bonus system can prompt unhelpful short-termism while ratcheting up overheads.

Yahoo fittingly closes portal on tech M&A misses

July 26, 2016

The $4.8 bln sale to Verizon caps two decades of deals and non-deals that shaped internet history. Yahoo got lucky with Alibaba, but failed to capitalize on its dominance with Google, Facebook and eBay. Spurning Microsoft also was a mistake. It's a one-company textbook on timing.

Workers on boards only small step in UK governance

July 11, 2016

Theresa May, perhaps Britain's next prime minister, wants employees among company directors. Germany's 40-year-old union-heavy "Mitbestimmung" model - which goes further than the UK would - hasn't been the disaster predicted by industry, but it also has its downsides.

Facebook’s indie owners send upside-down message

June 22, 2016

Shareholders not named Mark Zuckerberg gave more likes than frowny faces to just three members of the board. Puzzlingly that included Gawker-hunter Peter Thiel and not key executives like COO Sheryl Sandberg. It’s a head-scratcher probably explained by investors ticking boxes.

SoftBank’s long-term plan abruptly cut short

June 21, 2016

Heir apparent Nikesh Arora is quitting after Masayoshi Son opted to keep the reins at the Japanese tech group. In just two years, the ex-Googler was paid over $200 mln and spent billions. The succession mess leaves SoftBank and its mercurial founder as hard to read as ever.

Viacom boss may soon pull gilded ripcord

June 17, 2016

Media mogul Sumner Redstone says he has lost trust in Philippe Dauman, putting the CEO’s future at the MTV owner in doubt. If cut loose, he’d leave with an $80 mln exit package that rivals those of Michael Ovitz and Carly Fiorina. Corporate payouts for failure stubbornly linger.

Viacom CEO’s defiance is a red flag for buyers

June 10, 2016

Philippe Dauman told investors a minority sale of Paramount is still on. Owner Sumner Redstone is objecting. Abrupt changes to the media firm’s corporate bylaws underscore acrimony and suspicion at the board level. Potential partners for Paramount have been forewarned.

Valeant may strain to engineer way out the in door

June 6, 2016

As the embattled drugmaker prepares to report its first results under a new CEO, it’s also seeking a new business model beyond acquisitions and price hikes. Financial razzmatazz sometimes works both ways, but Valeant’s debt and possible suitors could make it hard science.