Breakingviews

Short hit on Itochu is wake-up call for Japan

July 27, 2016

A report by U.S. firm Glaucus poses hard questions about how the $20 bln trading house accounts for big investments in Colombia and China. Like activists before them, foreign short-sellers could help shake up a market that often looks too cosy.

SoftBank’s Son tests limits of investor patience

July 19, 2016

SoftBank shares tanked after its no-synergy, $32 bln bet on UK chip designer ARM. Having just lost his heir apparent, founder Son talks about the company as if it is private and says the highly leveraged entity is "net debt zero". It takes the shine off his striking track record.

SoftBank’s $32 bln ARM bet gives investors a shock

July 18, 2016

The Japanese tech group has reportedly agreed to buy the UK chip designer. It's a pricey punt on connected devices, and an unwelcome surprise for those who thought SoftBank was focused on reducing debt. Shareholders remain at the mercy of Chairman Masayoshi Son's "crazy ideas".

Nintendo’s augmented shares reflect new reality

July 14, 2016

The runaway success of the Japanese group's Pokemon app has sent its shares up more than 50 pct. That's a big vote of confidence in Nintendo's future mobile games, too. To justify the move, EBITDA will need to top 250 bln yen by 2018-2019 - more than double previous forecasts.

Japan’s carmakers are passengers in wild FX ride

July 5, 2016

Shares in Toyota, Nissan, Honda and others have crashed since Britain voted to quit the EU. All will be hit by an economic slowdown, and some would suffer from new tariffs on UK-made vehicles. But the selloff mostly reflects how exposed the firms are to currency-market swings.

Japan’s chat app IPO is more Twitter than WeChat

July 1, 2016

Messaging platform Line is going public with a valuation of up to $6.6 bln. Like Chinese rival WeChat, it has lured millions with games and virtual stickers. Yet its user base has stopped growing. Like Twitter, it must now try to squeeze more revenue out of those people.

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.