Messy deal calls truce in China online travel war

October 27, 2015

The $3.4 bln tie-up between rival travel sites Ctrip and Qunar heralds a strategic ceasefire in increasingly costly discount battles. Yet the share swap with Qunar parent Baidu falls short of a full merger. Shareholders can only guess the value created from the tangled alliance.

Aussie vitamins get iron ore-style China boost

September 18, 2015

A Guangzhou baby-formula firm is gobbling up Swisse, one of Australia’s biggest vitamin makers. The $1 bln deal caps a stunning run for clean-living specialists Down Under. As miners can attest, shifts in Chinese demand can transform an industry’s fortunes for better – or worse.

Beer megadeal could fuel a round of M&A in China

September 17, 2015

Combining AB InBev with SABMiller would make waves in the world’s biggest beer market. The merged group might try to keep SAB’s stake in market leader Snow. That would force smaller rivals into defensive deals. Or local partner CRE could buy out SAB and lead consolidation itself.

Chinese plane-hire deal survives market turbulence

September 4, 2015

Bohai Leasing’s $2.6 bln bid for Dublin-based Avolon confirms China’s desire to grow in aircraft rental. The $31-a-share offer is slightly below Bohai’s indicative bid a month ago. But rising interest rates and the falling yuan could have been reasons to drive a harder bargain.

With strong new backer, Olam gets what Noble needs

August 28, 2015

Mitsubishi is backing a Singapore-listed trader bashed by short-sellers, paying $1.1 bln at a big premium. Noble needs such a vote of confidence. But the Japanese group is actually endorsing Olam – a firm supported by Temasek that has been spared the worst of the commodity rout.

Glaxo sale comes with cheeky earnings side effect

August 21, 2015

UK pharmaceutical firm GlaxoSmithKline is selling a multiple sclerosis drug to Novartis for up to $1 bln. It’s a logical move and Glaxo gets a good price. The quirk: it will include proceeds from the one-off as part of underlying revenue. Pharma investors need to watch their core.

Corporate divorce expenses matter beyond activism

June 2, 2015

Acquisitive CEOs talk a lot more about deal synergies than costs. Warren Buffett once said he had never heard the word “dis-synergies” mentioned but had witnessed plenty. Managers under pressure to split companies may similarly overstate the negatives, but they’re still real.

Comcast’s boss should live to buy another day

April 23, 2015

A collapse of the $45 bln Time Warner Cable deal would leave controlling shareholder Brian Roberts with a second ugly scar. Overconfidence also contributed to a failed tilt at Disney a decade ago. Comcast rebounded with NBCU, which suggests Roberts will be back before too long.

Rob Cox: Pirelli flirts with joke version of hell

March 26, 2015

That’s where the chefs are British, the lovers Swiss and the mechanics French. Pirelli risks becoming the corporate equivalent: the management Italian (as in the joke), its owner a Chinese state enterprise, and other partners Russian. Minority investors won’t find it funny.

China rail merger reveals topsy-turvy reform logic

December 31, 2014

The People’s Republic is re-creating its domestic train-building monopoly to boost competitiveness abroad. State-backed CSR will buy almost identical CNR for $14.4 bln. Synergies may take time to realise but the new giant should be able to turn up the heat on foreign rivals.