Breakingviews

Cox: Argentina, Aramco are deals for tricky times

January 26, 2016

Two big transactions dominated Davos. One would open up a democracy to capital markets after years of feckless governance and isolation. The other is designed to help a repressive regime retain power. In the world’s current parlous state, it’s to be hoped that both get done.

BHP Billiton plays catch-up with $7 bln shale hit

January 15, 2016

Plunging energy prices forced the miner to write down its U.S. oil and gas assets again. The non-cash charge is large but just brings BHP’s balance sheet closer to the outside world’s estimation. A bigger step would be to follow the market’s lead once more and slash the dividend.

Saudi Aramco IPO carries big investor risks

January 8, 2016

Saudi Arabia has whetted the appetite of potential shareholders with the prospect of listing shares in its state oil company. A sale would give investors access to 18 pct of the world’s oil reserves but little say in how the company is run. The risks could outweigh the rewards.

Oil will blow past $80 a barrel in 2016

December 30, 2015

Low-cost OPEC producers will win the hydrocarbon price war because they can fight harder for longer. For now, OPEC is flooding the market with cheap crude. But it is building power over prices by making rival output uneconomic. The next big move in the oil price will be up.

Cheap batteries will give utilities electric shock

December 28, 2015

Local power suppliers have long enjoyed a natural monopoly. But the arrival of low-cost home energy storage from the likes of Tesla makes consumers less dependent on electricity networks. Batteries may even let some developing countries skip the grid altogether.

Big Oil morphs into Big Gas

December 22, 2015

Energy giants like Total are already pumping more gas than oil. Companies are making a virtue out of a necessity, since gas supplies are more accessible than oil. Demand is also growing. But returns are dogged by high capital spending and cost overruns.

Oil’s reckoning invites a U.S. mega-deal

December 10, 2015

Conoco, Chevron, Kinder Morgan and the state of Alaska are modifying capital strategies amid another lurch down in crude prices. If these conditions persist, something like Shell’s $70 bln takeover of BG should look appealing. Occidental and Anadarko could make tempting targets.

Unlikely activist rides against inbred energy deal

December 2, 2015

David Tepper usually sticks to distressed debt. But the mass of potential conflicts behind SunEdison offshoot TerraForm’s bid for Vivint Solar assets has spurred the boss of hedge fund Appaloosa to change horses and take a 9 pct stake. It may augur greater scrutiny for the sector.

Essar buyout exposes Indian stock market weirdness

December 2, 2015

Minority investors approved the delisting of Essar Oil last year. Now the controlling Ruia brothers are planning to sell half the $4.5 bln company to Russia’s Rosneft. The regulator has ordered Essar to compensate investors later. It’s a bizarre outcome in which no one looks good.

Billionaires add thrust to clean-energy moon shot

November 30, 2015

Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos and Jack Ma are among those pledging to pool their lucre for big investments in climate-friendly R&D. The aim is worthy but such ambitious projects have a mixed record. At least these entrepreneurs know how to tolerate serious cash burn.