French reform bill more talk than walk

By Pierre Briancon
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.

Citi risk measurement scheme warrants closer look

November 8, 2011

CEO Vikram Pandit is touting a plan for financial firms to disclose regularly how risk scenarios play out for a standard, hypothetical portfolio, as well as their own assets. Such a comparative tool might have raised red flags about MF Global -one reason it deserves attention.

U.S. patent law mission creep needs to be reversed

November 17, 2011

The system is supposed to reward inventors but not stifle innovation. Fuzzy concepts like the interpretation of data aren’t protected. Yet one firm says it owns a way to read medical tests. The U.S. Supreme Court has a chance to serve the law’s original intent by disagreeing.

“No harm, no foul” legal concept worth preserving

November 28, 2011

The U.S. Supreme Court is due to hear arguments on Monday over a consumer’s right to sue despite suffering no obvious injury. That only encourages dubious litigation against corporate America and upends constitutional logic. The high court now has a chance to squelch such cases.

P&G may need to pop a plan B for Pringles

November 29, 2011

Diamond Foods, agreed buyer of the consumer giant’s chips brand, keeps losing sparkle. Buried news about its internal audit investigation, rising payments to walnut-growing directors and other inconsistencies don’t seem to augur well for the probe - or P&G’s deal.

Courts more willing to second-guess Wall Street

December 5, 2011

U.S. judges have typically trodden softly over financial disputes and settlements for fear of ruffling markets. But the rejection of the SEC-Citi CDO deal is the latest sign times are changing. Activist courts aren’t good for certainty, but they’re filling a gap left by Congress.

Vodafone’s India tax victory may come with a twist

January 23, 2012

The UK phone giant’s $2.2 bln Supreme Court win is great news for India’s battered reputation. It also bodes well for firms like AT&T, which are threatened with similar bills. But if the government now changes the law, future offshore M&A deals won’t escape tax so easily.

A CEO’s phone mannerisms can reveal fibs

February 7, 2012

All it takes is a shaky delivery or uneven tone on an earnings call, new research suggests. They’re among the signs that a company boss is being economical with the truth. It’s not reliable enough to land anyone in jail. But investors seeking an edge may want to listen closely.