French reform bill more talk than walk

December 10, 2014

Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron wants to show Europe that France is finally getting serious about reform. But his limited plan to deregulate some services faces fierce opposition from within the ruling socialist camp. What Macron is demonstrating is how tough his job is.

Private equity discord is best collusion defense

August 7, 2014

Blackstone, KKR and TPG are paying $325 mln to resolve allegations that they conspired to limit buyout prices. Three other firms previously settled for less. Carlyle is holding out for now. Legally, there’s safety in numbers. Yet they can’t even agree on how to resolve the case.

Anadarko’s $5.1 bln settlement adds up in market

April 4, 2014

The U.S. oil driller’s pollution payment is at the low end of a court-defined range, which had a midpoint of around $10 bln. The 15 pct gain in Anadarko’s market cap equals that gap plus a small bonus for relief. And it brings the stock’s 12-month rise back in line with the S&P.

GM can find small comfort in Toyota’s ride

April 1, 2014

The U.S. automaker recalled more cars and doubled the estimated cost for the first quarter ahead of boss Mary Barra’s Capitol Hill grilling. Even so, Toyota’s recent fiasco suggests the financial fallout should be manageable. GM’s culture will be harder to repair.

U.S. trustbusting would make a great monopoly

November 26, 2013

The Justice Department is beating the pants off the Federal Trade Commission with pushback on AT&T, US Airways and AB InBev deals. The FTC has scored points protecting consumers. Leaving antitrust to DoJ would reduce costly overlap and let the agencies play to their strengths.

Big U.S. bank fines far more art than science

October 23, 2013

In theory there are defined, if loose, legal criteria for penalties. But the largest, like the possible $13 bln bite out of JPMorgan, can seem pulled from thin air. While courts occasionally run the rule over the numbers, regulators’ zeal and public outrage outweigh the logic.

Trump gives for-profit education an even worse rap

August 26, 2013

American schools looking to make a buck have been scrutinized recently for taking students’ money but providing lackluster results. The Donald’s foray into the industry did it no favors. New York’s $40 mln lawsuit underscores the need for institutions to make credentials clear.

A Goldman minnow finally lands in the SEC’s net

August 1, 2013

The jury verdict against Fabrice “Fabulous Fab” Tourre ends a losing streak at trial for the U.S. regulator. But the former trader played a minuscule role in Wall Street’s machinations during the financial crisis. The SEC’s win won’t absolve it from letting big fish get away.

“Fab” Tourre verdict can only make SEC look bad

July 30, 2013

The trial of the ex-Goldman CDO banker is ending. Tourre’s lawyers seem sure the U.S. regulator has blown it. If so, the SEC will seem inept. But even a win would only highlight the failure to bag a high-level boss. Stronger cases are needed to give the Wall Street watchdog bite.

SAC charges challenge hedge fund model

July 26, 2013

The U.S. government’s indictment suggests recruitment should focus on compliance over money-making ability, turns investment “edge” into a dirty word, and implicitly questions the “mosaic” technique of information-gathering. It’s a worry for Steve Cohen’s industry peers.