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.

Toshiba’s overdue nuclear illumination is welcome

November 30, 2015

The scandal-hit Japanese group has been too fuzzy about the performance of important businesses. Now it has finally laid out the finances and outlook for various key units. Improved disclosure, plus growth potential in nuclear power, should help restore some market confidence.

Dollar peg remains Saudi Arabia’s best option

November 27, 2015

Saudi Arabia is under pressure to break its currency peg with the dollar. The inflexible riyal means Saudi can’t devalue to offset weak oil prices. But given Riyadh’s huge forex reserves, the risks of moving to a floating currency still outweigh the rewards.

Abengoa has creditors over a barrel

November 27, 2015

The beleaguered Spanish engineering group might survive if lenders take haircuts of two-thirds. In liquidation, losses could mushroom due to the group’s spiralling working capital needs, complex business and slow Spanish courts. Abengoa needs a speedy resolution and more cash.

Coal India offers cheap and dirty play on reform

November 19, 2015

A sale of another 10 pct of the lumbering state monopoly could raise $3 bln. It’s an appealing bet on Prime Minister Modi’s reform drive, since shaking up the power sector should lift coal demand. At current prices, a decent valuation and a fat dividend would help too.

Air Liquide’s bid for Airgas leaves value vacuum

November 18, 2015

The French gas company’s $13.4 billion acquisition melds two complementary businesses – the larger Air Liquide supplies mainly big customers; its U.S. rival serves smaller outfits. Yet unless the buyer can superheat the synergies, the deal will leave its shareholders worse off.

Argus sale opens up obscure corner of oil market

November 12, 2015

Oil price reporting agencies are the plumbing of a $2.5 trillion market – and Argus, which has put itself on the block, is one of the biggest. Expansion is an option for a buyer. Private equity should be interested, but the nuances of pricing oil may be too edgy for some.

IEA history lesson makes $100 oil more likely

November 10, 2015

The Paris-based International Energy Agency says the world’s reliance on low-cost Middle East oil could return to 1970s levels. By cutting capex, oil majors are bolstering that dependence. Supply squeezes could feed through to higher crude sooner rather than later.

Qatar’s austerity drive will be felt beyond Doha

November 5, 2015

Despite being among the wealthiest people on the planet, Qataris must cut “wasteful” spending as low energy prices squeeze revenue, their ruler has warned. Years of high-profile investments including VW, Glencore and Barclays mean it may not just be Qataris who feel the pinch.

Cheap oil no deterrent to Shell-BG deal

November 3, 2015

The Anglo-Dutch major says its bid for BG Group still works at mid-$60s oil thanks to higher expected synergies. Cheaper oil means BG is probably worth less too, but cost savings will help. The deal needs a recovery in oil prices sooner rather than later for it to work.