Breakingviews

SoftBank’s long-term plan abruptly cut short

June 21, 2016

Heir apparent Nikesh Arora is quitting after Masayoshi Son opted to keep the reins at the Japanese tech group. In just two years, the ex-Googler was paid over $200 mln and spent billions. The succession mess leaves SoftBank and its mercurial founder as hard to read as ever.

Sickly Lotte IPO reflects two faces of South Korea

June 13, 2016

Seoul may be Asia’s coolest destination right now, and Lotte Group’s flagship duty-free arm ought to profit handsomely. But raids have derailed the unit’s $4.5 bln listing and drawn attention to Korea’s uglier side: its powerful, opaque and poorly governed conglomerates.

Tencent can win with a $9 bln bet on Supercell

June 10, 2016

The Chinese web giant is reportedly talking about buying the maker of Clash of Clans at an unexpectedly high $9 bln valuation. Such a big deal would be a first for Tencent. But buying the games-maker from Japan’s SoftBank could pay off - if Supercell can keep churning out gems.

Japan’s fiscal arrow ought to target young and old

June 6, 2016

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is preparing a stimulus that may include vouchers for creches and help with caring for the elderly. That could lure more women into the workforce while also boosting spending. Ultra-low interest rates can help speed the social change Abe has promised.

SoftBank’s $8 bln Alibaba sale is late but prudent

June 1, 2016

Masayoshi Son’s tech and telecom conglomerate is offloading 4.2 pct of the Chinese e-commerce giant to pay down debt. The hugely successful investment is now more burden than blessing. As SoftBank takes a more disciplined approach to its portfolio, further disposals may follow.

Sony’s lowball forecasts are oddly reassuring

May 25, 2016

Shares rallied despite a profit outlook that fell below expectations. Setting $1 bln of quake damage aside, the Japanese group is faring well. Consoles are humming along, handsets are stabilising, and a duff project has been nixed quickly. Sony’s turnaround is almost complete.

Abenomics has over-promised and under-delivered

May 17, 2016

Shinzo Abe has spent more than three years pushing for higher growth, faster inflation and a nimbler economy. But success eludes the Japanese prime minister, who has been too timid with the public purse. Keeping the project going calls for extra spending and even easier money.

Toshiba fluffs leadership overhaul

May 9, 2016

The scandal-hit Japanese group named two new bosses. Neither is ideal: the CEO is a clean pair of hands but hails from a now non-core business. The chairman is an insider who oversaw big writedowns at the U.S. energy unit. It’s a setback to an otherwise decent effort to clean up.

Mitsubishi Motors fiasco shows reforms lack oomph

May 5, 2016

The carmaker’s legacy of dodgy testing is astonishing. At best, management and directors were in the dark for 25 years. The firm badly needs a stronger board and better internal controls. For all the talk of improved corporate governance, much of Japan Inc is similarly lacking.

Bank of Japan goes from activist to bystander

April 28, 2016

The world’s most aggressive central bank has wrong-footed investors by holding policy steady even as the backdrop weakens. There are reasons to hold back: a previous push into negative rates is still bedding down, for example. But markets could have been let down more gently.