Breakingviews

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.

Toshiba fluffs leadership overhaul

May 9, 2016

The scandal-hit Japanese group named two new bosses. Neither is ideal: the CEO is a clean pair of hands but hails from a now non-core business. The chairman is an insider who oversaw big writedowns at the U.S. energy unit. It’s a setback to an otherwise decent effort to clean up.

Mitsubishi Motors fiasco shows reforms lack oomph

May 5, 2016

The carmaker’s legacy of dodgy testing is astonishing. At best, management and directors were in the dark for 25 years. The firm badly needs a stronger board and better internal controls. For all the talk of improved corporate governance, much of Japan Inc is similarly lacking.

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.