Breakingviews

Viewsroom: Tribune stalls while Tesla puts pedal to metal

May 6, 2016

The newspaper chain's rejection of Gannett's hefty $815 million offer is a head-scratcher, hardly the sort of move that suggests the industry knows how to pull itself out of a prolonged slump. Can clever experiments like the New York Times' plan to deliver meals with the morning paper pump up profit? Meanwhile, Elon Musk's electric-car company is accelerating production, claiming demand is outstripping supply. Maybe that's true, but technological glitches and a lack of capital could hold the company back. And bank customers may finally get their bite back. America's consumer watchdog – the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau – is reviving class-action lawsuits after decades of corporate efforts to squelch people's right to go to court.

GM’s $500 mln Lyft stake hedges against tech’s rise

January 4, 2016

The bet gets the U.S. carmaker a way into the growing ride-hailing industry and another partner for developing autonomous vehicles. The deal taps into potential changes in car ownership and usage, and even employment – all threats to the traditional business of building vehicles.

Rob Cox: Don’t underestimate Exor’s John Elkann

By Rob Cox
June 23, 2015

Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne is the one leading a coercive charm offensive for car industry consolidation, but it wouldn’t be happening without the Agnelli scion’s support. Exor’s hostile bid for PartnerRe signals a hard-nosed approach that GM and others shouldn’t dismiss.

Fiat boss fights for car M&A with hand behind back

May 27, 2015

Sergio Marchionne argues mergers would cut duplicative spending and boost shareholder returns. GM has already rebuffed him, probably because such deals are complex and hard to complete. But he also hurts his case by downplaying the benefits of lower costs and fewer employees.

A fat and happy GM is a dangerous company

By Rob Cox
February 12, 2015

It’s an irony bordering on conflict of interest that Harry Wilson, who helped Uncle Sam convert debt to equity in bankruptcy, is pressing the carmaker to reduce its cash cushion. Yet absent externally imposed fiscal discipline, GM runs the risk of repeating mistakes of the past.

Rob Cox: When CEOs are worth more as former CEOs

By Rob Cox
February 5, 2015

Investors this week applauded the abrupt exits of bosses at Ally and Petrobras, whose market value surged by $8 bln. Ousters at McDonald’s recently and Microsoft in 2013 earned similar welcomes. The common thread seems to be relief after a CEO becomes entrenched and inflexible.

Rob Cox: It took the Grim Reaper to restructure GM

By Rob Cox
January 14, 2015

The carmaker’s swift bankruptcy sparked less soul-searching than the process of determining who died from faulty ignitions. Bringing Ken Feinberg in will go down as CEO Mary Barra’s smartest decision. She should go a step further and memorialize the dead in the lobby of GM’s HQ.

GM’s former finance arm better suited for IPO

February 22, 2012

The business now known as Ally is now considering a sale - and it would fit well with some banks or even its previous owner. But the ResCap unit remains troubled. And at $25 bln, it’s no easy deal in this environment. Waiting for an opening in public markets is a better option.

Peugeot’s $1.3 bln cash call inspires confidence

March 7, 2012

Underwriters sought a 32 pct discount to the theoretical ex-rights price for the carmarker’s fundraising in its alliance with GM. That seems steep, but reflects a challenged industry. Indeed, for a company raising a third of its market value, the 6 pct share price drop is muted.

Ally’s mortgage misery needs a clean ending

March 27, 2012

The home loan mess still ails GM’s ex-finance unit and is still hampering its ability to repay $14 bln of taxpayer aid. Bankruptcy should be the ideal solution. But as an activist investor points out, that could get messy. Without greater clarity, Ally may want to hold fire.