Breakingviews

Brexit is reopening euro zone sovereign wounds

June 14, 2016

France’s bond yields are rising while Germany’s are falling. It’s a warning markets may doubt the integrity of the euro zone if a UK exit triggers copycat referendums. The ECB has neither the power nor the mandate to fight the kind of extreme outcomes that could ensue.

Dixon: Fiscal union has no place in EU Brexit plan

June 7, 2016

European politicians’ knee-jerk reaction if Britain votes to quit the European Union will be to integrate further. This would be foolish, provoking a populist backlash. A better response would be to loosen fiscal policy while embarking on bolder economic and market reforms.

“Because it’s France” no basis for EU budget rules

June 1, 2016

Jean-Claude Juncker used that to explain why France wins more fiscal leeway. This might be worrying coming from the head of the European Commission, which enforces budget discipline, if it weren’t already plain. Blindly applying rules is foolish, as is regular failure to do so.

Strikes upset France’s reform calculus

May 24, 2016

Labour law changes forced through by the Socialist government are sparking strikes in refineries, ports, and railways. The benefits of the measures were watered down when the reforms were diluted. Protracted social unrest could deter investment and push up the costs.

Marchionne’s job upgrade bodes ill for Fiat

May 3, 2016

The storied boss of Fiat Chrysler has taken over as chief executive of spun-out Ferrari, too. Leading the iconic luxury carmaker is surely the more alluring of the two jobs. Yet challenged Fiat Chrysler arguably needs Sergio Marchionne’s full attention more than ever.

Wanted: candidates for Europe’s worst CEO job

April 6, 2016

Air France-KLM’s boss Alexandre de Juniac has vacated an unenviable managerial position. Europe’s weakest legacy carrier is hobbled by high costs, mighty unions and a wayward state shareholder. His successor will need fluent French, modest pay expectations, and little ambition.

YSL adds to unhappy trend of big designer exits

April 1, 2016

Hedi Slimane is leaving the luxury house after four years. It’s a setback for one of French group Kering’s fastest-growing labels. Losing the odd creative is no crisis, but with recent exits at Dior, Gucci and Lanvin, retaining talent could drag on profitability. 

Peugeot could rev revival by scrapping luxury line

February 24, 2016

The French group has become one of Europe’s most profitable mass-market carmakers under boss Carlos Tavares, with a 5 pct operating margin in 2015. But a costly plan for a new premium brand risks spoiling the performance. Junking the idea would speed an already healthy recovery.

Gucci gives sneak preview of life after turnaround

February 19, 2016

Kering’s most important luxury brand beat sales estimates in the fourth quarter, the result of more desirable products and a slick advertising campaign. It looks to be putting three years of bumpy growth behind it. Yet falling operating profit margins will continue to drag on the valuation.

SocGen triumphalism rings hollow

February 11, 2016

Boss Frederic Oudea hailed the “good” full-year result for the French bank’s main business lines as he hiked dividends to half of earnings. But new legal provisions put Societe Generale’s fourth-quarter return on equity at 4.7 pct. With costs up, his confidence seems misplaced.