Breakingviews

Bloomberg outage highlights another bank weakness

April 17, 2015

The financial network’s global downtime may have been a problem only for the very rich – and a boon for City pubs. But it prompted the Bank of England to remind banks it’s there as a lender of last resort, raising questions about traders’ heavy reliance on a few fallible systems.

Response to Paris attacks caught between two risks

January 8, 2015

The killings at the Charlie Hebdo weekly put French and European authorities at the confluence of two dangers – individual acts of violence and excessive countermeasures. Fringe parties may benefit if the response is too weak. Media freedom might suffer if it is too strong.

Facebook’s next goal: crack the Socialist network

December 11, 2014

Founder Mark Zuckerberg’s attempt to charm China’s censorship tsar has earned justified dislikes. It’s no longer unthinkable though that the social network could be allowed back into the People’s Republic. The challenge is to wrest new friends from huge local rivals.

China great wall of content could be more than fad

November 20, 2014

Smartphone maker Xiaomi and e-commerce giant Alibaba are stretching their business models by investing in online TV programming. If viewers pay up content might turn fickle ad revenues and one-off sales of hardware into predictable revenue streams.

Review: Through a distorting mirror, darkly

November 14, 2014

William Gibson’s novel “The Peripheral” paints future worlds that are built of present fears writ large. Algorithms not only roil financial markets, they travel in time. Nanotech eats people. Money corrupts and spies surveil, even more than now. Yet human decency has a chance.

Carlyle buys a shovel-maker for deal gold rush

November 5, 2014

The private equity firm is teaming up with publisher Euromoney for a $700 mln buyout of Dealogic, the financial data provider. With IPOs, debt issuance and M&A soaring, the acquisition will be a 2014 test of an old adage: in most booms it pays to sell the necessary tools.

Publicis overpays with $3.7 bln digital takeover

November 3, 2014

The French ad giant is buying U.S. digital specialist Sapient. The all-cash takeover comes at a big premium and with limited scope for synergies. This looks a value-destructive attempt to distract from Publicis’ faltering performance after its failed merger with Omnicom.

Anarchical Vice Media makes orthodoxy a virtue

September 5, 2014

The bad boy of news and entertainment is now worth $2.5 bln. Unlike some Silicon Valley upstarts, though, Vice sold more than a sliver of itself and raised real money: $500 mln. Disney, Hearst and Fox are among its backers. For all the iconoclasm, there are old-school traits.

Home Depot hack scarier than Hollywood breach

September 3, 2014

Maybe Apple et al can make the cloud more secure, but celebrities like Jennifer Lawrence also probably need to be extra careful. Violations that expose millions of people to financial loss are in a different league. Investors should punish companies that skimp on security.

Vivendi boosts shareholder credentials in GVT sale

August 28, 2014

The French media group says it favors Telefonica’s $10 bln bid for its Brazilian mobile unit. Telefonica could pay more, but it’s good that Vivendi has chosen the surest exit for shareholders. As for rival bidder Telecom Italia, it now faces an uncertain future.