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The UK tobacco group wants to acquire assets sold following a possible merger of U.S. peers Reynolds and Lorillard. Imperial may win a path to scale in America. But the positive market reaction is too sanguine about balance-sheet strain and the acquisition of low-growth assets.

Why investors were taken in by Gowex

The scandal-hit Spanish wifi provider raised many red flags. Why were they all ignored? Because more people benefit when companies flourish, and Spain needs success stories. Gotham City, Gowex’s nemesis, did everyone a service, but its work shouldn’t have been necessary.

Review: Putting a face on China's vague ambition

Many books about China strive for a sweeping overview. Evan Osnos’ “Age of Ambition” adopts a refreshingly human perspective. Despite some inevitable gaps, his close-up portraits of people in the People’s Republic are as revealing as a torrent of statistical superlatives.

Spending hike is best part of low-key India budget

The maiden budget from Narendra Modi’s new government failed to live up to the reform hype. But a promise to do away with retrospective changes in the tax code is welcome. And while boosting spending on roads, ports and cities is a gamble, this could revive the investment cycle.

Capital crisis making Italy SpA stronger

Italian capitalism is undergoing Darwinian selection. Companies can no longer rely on the state, age-old shareholder pacts or even Mediobanca for capital. Firms are being forced to adapt to the rules of global finance to avoid extinction. The next generation looks fit to prosper.

Portugal in race against time to sort out BES

Despite a recent successful rights issue, the Iberian lender is exposed to its troubled major shareholder and has a large exposure to dodgy Angolan loans. Its owners face a difficult refinancing this year. Authorities should demand full transparency and a quick restructuring.

"Seller beware" when profiting from market calm

Volatility, gauged by indicators like VIX, is ultra-low. While it could be the calm before a storm, investors including Pimco have been selling insurance against price swings. It’s one way to make money amidst shrinking yields, but it’s also a risky bet against the unexpected.