Breakingviews

Cox: What Mark Zuckerberg could learn in Quebec

By Rob Cox
April 28, 2016

The founders of mini-mart leviathan Couche-Tard devised a clever way to balance supporters and detractors of dual-class stock by eliminating voting rights over time. The idea would suit Facebook and many others, if only bad tendencies fueled by ego could somehow be overcome.

Priceline embarrassment goes beyond CEO dalliance

By Rob Cox
April 28, 2016

The $68 bln travel website parted ways with Darren Huston citing “activities inconsistent with the board’s expectations for executive conduct.” Resorting to a former boss as a stopgap isn’t disastrous, but it suggests the board missed a trick by not bedding down succession.

BP’s $20 mln Dudley payout looks crass but isn’t

April 14, 2016

The oil major faces an uproar over Chief Executive Bob Dudley’s bumper remuneration package despite the company slashing jobs and recording losses last year. But the criticism may be unfair. Dudley has hit key targets and drawn a line under the Gulf of Mexico disaster.

Disney leadership hitch evokes Eisner era

April 7, 2016

After losing his heir apparent, Bob Iger may opt to stick around beyond a planned 2018 retirement date. His predecessor, Michael Eisner, botched a succession plan and overstayed his welcome after a successful first decade as CEO. There’s a danger Disney history repeats itself.

CalPERS learns social responsibility can be a drag

April 5, 2016

The $290 bln California pension fund may reinvest in tobacco stocks after a report found that exiting the sector cost it $3 bln over 15 years. There’s more to the idea than higher returns, though. Engaging financially with controversial firms can be a better way to effect change.

Valeant’s multiple organ failure puts it in ICU

March 21, 2016

The beleaguered drugmaker has found accounting improprieties. It is booting CEO Mike Pearson but ex-CFO Howard Schiller has refused to quit as a director. The board, the numbers and the strategy are fractured. Some $30 bln of debt means Valeant risks an Enron or WorldCom endgame.

Credit Suisse’s Thiam needs a new new strategy

March 17, 2016

Boss Tidjane Thiam set out to double pre-tax profit in Asia, and the same in wealth management. China’s slowdown and a money-laundering case show events are overtaking him. Time for a face-saving rethink – or in bank-speak, a strategic acceleration.

John Gutfreund takes old Wall St model to grave

March 10, 2016

The ex-Salomon Brothers boss led investment banks from partnerships into prop trading – and ended up in a scandal. His era was, at least, one where bankers’ excesses didn’t put the system at risk. That lends his kind of risk taking a degree of perverse charm that will be missed.

The Exchange podcast: Rise of shareholder activism

March 10, 2016

Hedge fund manager Jeff Gramm pops over to Times Square to discuss his new book, "Dear Chairman," which chronicles eight decades of pushy investing from Benjamin Graham and Warren Buffett to Carl Icahn and Dan Loeb, and what this history means for markets now and in the future.

United Airlines board dogfight could be win-win

March 8, 2016

Two hedge funds are gunning to get six new directors appointed, including a retired Continental boss. It’s a headache for CEO Oscar Munoz as he returns from sick leave. Despite heated rhetoric, though, a compromise on a revamped board should suit both sides better than a battle.