Breakingviews

Farcical oil deal prompts George Costanza defense

May 6, 2016

Like the character in sitcom “Seinfeld,” Energy Transfer hopes to shake up a sour relationship: the $21 bln takeover of pipeline rival Williams. ETE aims to pay less cash, seeming to force the issue by making itself as unattractive as possible. The stakes are no laughing matter.

Pfizer mulls actually having an M&A strategy

May 5, 2016

The $205 bln drug giant’s last two huge acquisition attempts failed. Pfizer could yet try another merger to cut its tax rate, it could enter a potentially heated auction for $10 bln biotech Medivation, or it could split up. Dealmaking success depends on having clearer goals.

Newspaper deal would solve Tribune’s woes

April 25, 2016

USA Today owner Gannett’s $815 mln unsolicited offer to buy the publisher of the LA Times doesn’t just make financial sense for the buyer. It would also allow Tribune shareholders to escape flatlining revenue at a headline-grabbing 63 percent premium to its current market value.

Cox: Who’s the Chinese buyer we’ve never heard of?

By Rob Cox
April 14, 2016

That’s the question every investment banker now asks when selling a company or asset anywhere in the world. M&A advisers are even flying China specialists across oceans for pitches. Anbang-like hiccups won’t stop the trend. But extra due diligence and vigilance is required.

Deals can help Japan’s banks offset dollar drought

April 13, 2016

Mega-banks MUFG, SMFG and Mizuho are making new loans abroad faster than they can amass matching deposits. This headache has boosted the cost of swapping funds from yen to dollars, and made regulators in Tokyo wary. Buying smaller U.S. lenders would help reduce the mismatch.

Rail mega-deal pushed all the wrong buttons

April 11, 2016

Canadian Pacific’s unsolicited $28 bln offer for rival Norfolk Southern managed to alienate nearly every ally it needed: U.S. regulators, the target’s board, customers, lawmakers and even the American military. The bidder has finally pulled the right lever – eject.

Abandoned Pfizer deal leaves all sides tainted

April 6, 2016

The U.S. Treasury looks bad for changing the rules to kill the $160 bln merger with Allergan. Lawmakers’ inaction encouraged such tax-driven transactions. But Pfizer and CEO Ian Read bear the most responsibility for wasting time and resources pushing an overpriced, risky deal.

Cops arrive just in time to break up the M&A party

By Rob Cox
April 6, 2016

There’s no better sign that the current boom of corporate promiscuity has reached end days than the ferocious intervention by U.S. authorities citing antitrust, tax or national security concerns. The demise of Pfizer-Allergan should clearly signal the cycle is coming to a close.

Alaska Air pays through nosecone for U.S. Virgin

April 4, 2016

The carrier is securing coveted airport slots in its $2.6 bln deal for Richard Branson’s stateside flier. Cost savings are slim, however, leaving an expected sales uplift to justify the 87 pct premium. It’s a risky bet that the airline industry’s destructive ways have changed.

Anbang risks a Year of the Stalking Horse

April 1, 2016

The Beijing insurer has inked smaller deals, but it just abandoned its $14 bln offer for Starwood, citing “market conditions.” Anbang’s emergence nevertheless helped the U.S. hotelier wrest sweeter terms from Marriott. It’s a modern hazard for buyers up against Chinese rivals.