Greek deal is rational, predictable, messy

May 25, 2016

Both the IMF and Europe have compromised in Greece’s new debt plan. Athens’ fiscal targets are looser, but less so than the IMF wanted. Its debt costs will fall, but the relief is vague. There’s a hoary cliche about kicking the can down the road. This doesn’t even go that far.

Brussels O2 veto cements BT’s home advantage

May 11, 2016

The EU’s anti-trust tsar has rejected CK Hutchison’s 10.3 billion pound takeover of O2, because it says it would raise mobile prices. That leaves several UK players figuring out next steps. In an industry moving towards packages of mobile, landline, broadband and TV, the winner is the beefed-up BT.

O2 deal may get hung up on UK telco concessions

December 9, 2015

Brussels’ trustbusters are assessing the market impact of Hutchison’s 10 bln stg bid for Telefonica’s UK arm. It would be odd to push the bidder to surrender spectrum: rivals have more. A demand for it to create a new operator looks sounder but would hurt the deal logic.

Google EU antitrust spat riddled with holes

August 28, 2015

The search giant’s robust response to a European challenge over price comparison tools ratchets up a complex theoretical battle over what makes a monopoly. Yet the dispute misses a broader point: it’s hard to see how any likely outcome will make a massive difference to consumers.

EU’s competition sprawl as worrying as Google’s

April 15, 2015

Europe has accused the web giant of favoring its own shopping search results and broadened the case to include its Android mobile operating system. Investigations and appeals may take a decade. Brussels’ ambitious lack of focus is similar to what threatens ever-expanding Google.

Europe picks up as Commission predicts recession

February 24, 2012

The European Commission is belatedly forecasting recession – but data may now be improving outside the euro periphery. Germany’s Ifo survey has risen for a fourth month and UK export orders have leapt. Global growth and inflation could be firmer than expected.

Euro left is powerless against austerity zealots

March 16, 2012

Opposition to the euro zone fiscal compact is mounting among centre-left parties. This could derail ratification by some member states. But rules to enforce strict fiscal discipline are already part of European law, and Germany and the ECB are still calling the shots.

Watchdogs could change Vivendi’s EMI tune

March 23, 2012

The French group’s Universal music arm feels so good about its chances of success that it agreed to pay the full $1.9 bln price even if trustbusters block the deal. But it’s actually a third possibility - being forced to sell pieces - that could be the costliest for Universal.

EU probe shows hidden costs of China subsidies

By Wei Gu
May 28, 2012

A mooted trade case against telecom vendors may hinge on their access to state credit. Yet Huawei and ZTE are competitive enough not to need such perks. State support for national champions may now be turning into a disadvantage, since it makes it easy for others to cry foul play.

Why it’s hard to shut down a Spanish bank

June 18, 2012

EU Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said this week that it could make sense to liquidate a bank if the costs of keeping it alive with public money exceed the costs of closing it down. That sounds sensible. But in Spain, it’s not that simple.