Breakingviews

CBS-Viacom tie-up may please only the Redstones

September 29, 2016

The controlling family wants to reunite the two media firms. Les Moonves at the stronger CBS would do non-Redstone shareholders a disservice if he paid a full premium, but Viacom's owners might want one. Any middle ground is narrow at best – and a governance minefield.

Gas deal pushes limits of U.S. energy M&A thaw

September 27, 2016

Rice Energy's $2.7 bln swoop on Vantage, which was planning an IPO, follows transactions in oilier shale regions. Paying partly in shares will limit debt, but unlike in EOG Resources' recent deal, Rice's shares fell. Maybe gas isn't yet inspiring the same animal spirits as oil.

Pfizer’s pricey non-split may only defer problem

September 26, 2016

After years of study costing $600 mln, the drugmaker says it won't break itself up. Boss Ian Read always seemed keener on acquisitions. It's true the process helped close a conglomerate discount. But Pfizer's sprawl and tendency to overpay means the gap may soon reappear.

Latest Apple rumor may vanish as fast as a McLaren

September 22, 2016

The iPhone giant may have approached the British supercar firm. Apple, though, has made few acquisitions, even to help it pioneer smartphones. While McLaren is high-tech, it's hard to see it taking Apple's car ambitions far. Fancy can run free when a company has $230 bln of cash.

Abbott eases its M&A risk with $4.3 bln asset sale

September 19, 2016

With two acquisitions worth over $30 bln pending – and the purchase of Alere, in particular, not going smoothly – the $62 bln health firm is vulnerable. Selling its eye-surgery unit to J&J gives Abbott needed financial breathing room and perhaps extra leverage with Alere.

Bayer can still be saved from $66 bln splurge

September 14, 2016

The agreed takeover of U.S. rival Monsanto is too expensive. The German group's investors have probably lost $7 bln in value already. The question is whether antitrust regulators do what shareholders can't and nix the tie-up. Paying the $2 bln break fee would still be preferable.

Fertilizer duo bucks trend with $36 bln love-in

September 12, 2016

Canada's Potash and Agrium are combining in a merger of equals. It's a contrast to past industry mash-up attempts, which gave off a whiff of exuberance before collapsing. There's plenty for both sets of shareholders to like, assuming the deal clears antitrust hurdles.

A $1 trln un-merger record that’s hard to beat

September 7, 2016

Even with two more U.S. mega-deals on the rocks, 2015 is set to retain the global M&A crown. There soon will come a year, though, which surpasses its $4.4 trln of activity. It's the record volume of withdrawn acquisitions in 1999 that's more likely to stand the test of time.

Potash giant emerges from ashes of failed deals

August 30, 2016

Canadian fertilizer companies Agrium and Potash Corp of Saskatchewan said on Aug. 30 they were in preliminary discussions about a merger of equals. Potash shares were up about 11 percent and Agrium's 6 percent at 1 p.m. EDT. The talks were first reported by Bloomberg.

Williams gets the board fight it deserves

August 23, 2016

A pushy investor who just quit as a director at the $21 bln U.S. pipeline operator is back with a whole new slate. Because of a deadline, however, the nominees are stand-ins until real candidates can be found. The year of M&A helter-skelter makes this new madness somehow fitting.