Breakingviews

Freeport-McMoRan leaves Carl Icahn lots of targets

August 28, 2015

Big cuts in spending and staff sent the struggling miner’s stock soaring – just before the activist revealed an 8.5 pct stake. The pre-emptive strike won’t be enough to satisfy the feisty billionaire. High debt and low commodity prices suggest he has asset sales in his crosshairs.

SoftBank’s hired gun takes high road to ownership

August 20, 2015

Nikesh Arora will invest $483 million in the Japanese tech group, cementing his place as successor to founder Masayoshi Son. It’s a refreshing change from the complex awards handed out by many U.S. companies. It should also help the ex-Googler push through more bold investments.

BNP Paribas’ M&A machine spits out growth and risk

July 31, 2015

France’s top bank by assets cranked out resurgent second-quarter earnings of 2.6 bln euros. Three takeovers in 2014 are delivering results. Yet dealmaking sprawl has tripped up rivals in the past. It might be a good time for the Belgian state to trim its 10 pct stake.

Deutsche Bank smart on growth, shabby on costs

July 30, 2015

Germany’s biggest bank grew capital buffers and revenue briskly in the second quarter. But expenses devoured 85 pct of the top line – the same as a year ago. New co-CEO John Cryan needs to pull Deutsche out of some of the 60-plus countries it aims to be in, and cut headcount.

Shouldn’t Credit Suisse and StanChart swap CEOs?

July 20, 2015

Bill Winters is beginning his tenure as new boss of the emerging markets lender at the same time that Tidjane Thiam takes charge of the Swiss investment and private bank. Both are capable executives, but their experiences seem uncannily to better suit the other’s job.

Bafin barbs show scale of Deutsche overhaul task

July 17, 2015

A leaked letter from the German bank’s lead regulator slams executives for incompetence - or worse - over Libor. New CEO John Cryan needs to repair relations. Improving controls and recruiting new managers complicate the already-sizeable job of boosting Deutsche’s performance.

BBC needs good pruning, not root-and-branch change

July 16, 2015

UK lawmakers are questioning the broadcaster's remit. Its 3.7 bln stg pseudo-state funding is anticompetitive. But while the BBC, like the monarchy and NHS, comes from another era, reformers need to be careful. A "bonsai" BBC – smaller and stronger – might be worth cultivating.

U.S. bank bosses get greedy in latest merger

July 14, 2015

The Fed has approved BB&T’s purchase of Susquehanna, one of the industry’s biggest transactions in years. Other lenders may be relieved to see the deal pipeline flow again. The buyer’s top brass, meanwhile, will share an undeserved $2.5 mln bonus, a blot on otherwise good news.

Thruppence: Sympathy for the devil in boardrooms

By Breakingviews Columnists
July 10, 2015

Appointing a “contrarian director” to challenge management recommendations was the winning suggestion from an MBA student in a competition sponsored by Cambridge and McKinsey. Even some Breakingviews columnists who reject the proposal would like to see more devil’s advocacy.

Rob Cox: The (bank) resolution will be televised

July 9, 2015

Global regulators have made great progress preparing for the technical aspects of a collapse, and resurrection, of a major financial institution. What they need to spend more time on is ensuring they can effectively communicate the process to a world consumed by financial panic.