Breakingviews

Altice’s $9 bln U.S. foray shows controlled ambition

May 20, 2015

Patrick Drahi’s telecoms group is paying 10.1 times EBITDA to enter the U.S. cable market. But cost-cutting should reduce the multiple, and it could be a springboard for further consolidation. It’s a more conservative step than another mooted deal: a tilt at Time Warner Cable.

It’s a good time for Visa to charge up in Europe

May 14, 2015

The U.S. payments company may be in talks to buy former subsidiary Visa Europe for up to $20 bln. A deal now, though complex to arrange, would bring global dominance and valuable cost savings. An existing put option also means acting now might well avoid a higher price later.

M&A predators stalk Michael Milken’s ball

April 29, 2015

The financial elite prowling Beverly Hills at the behest of the former Drexel Burnham boss worried about everything from China to cybersecurity to stock valuations. Three former Treasury chiefs lamented a lame Washington. When it came to deals, however, animal spirits ran wild.

Comcast’s boss should live to buy another day

April 23, 2015

A collapse of the $45 bln Time Warner Cable deal would leave controlling shareholder Brian Roberts with a second ugly scar. Overconfidence also contributed to a failed tilt at Disney a decade ago. Comcast rebounded with NBCU, which suggests Roberts will be back before too long.

Agnellis pay up to claim mini-Buffett status

April 15, 2015

Exor, the Italian family’s holding company, is offering a premium to buy PartnerRe out of a merger with fellow reinsurer Axis. The price is full and the bid lacks its rival’s synergies. But debt is cheap, and Berkshire Hathaway-style cash flow could fund further acquisitions.

Shell-BG highlights rise of the micro-boutiques

April 8, 2015

The $70 bln deal needed just three advisers: Merrill, Goldman, and minnow Robey Warshaw. Rivals like Zaoui & Co have also won major mandates. For big M&A shops, two worrying trends are intersecting: CEOs seem ready to hire fewer banks per deal and to use much smaller outfits.

Tronchetti and China pitch Pirelli price cleverly

March 23, 2015

China National Chemical Corporation, aligned with Chairman Marco Tronchetti Provera, wants to buy and delist Pirelli. The 15 euros a share offer isn’t generous, but the market price is only slightly higher and the bidders aren’t forced buyers. Holdouts may not get much more.

Expedia indicates first-class M&A tickets remain

February 12, 2015

The online travel company’s shares jumped after it agreed to buy smaller rival Orbitz for $1.6 bln. Advertised synergies worth $525 mln today amount to twice the premium being paid. Despite evidence of fewer easy pickings, Expedia shows why the deal boom still has some runway.

RBC’s foray south a pricey bet that two’s a charm

January 22, 2015

The Canadian bank is paying $5.4 bln for U.S. lender City National, a 26 pct premium that planned cost cuts don’t justify. The so-called banker to Hollywood stars is growing well. But RBC’s last venture into American retail banking was a mess. It needs to prove it can do better.

Climate feels right for certain deals in Davos

January 20, 2015

The Swiss mountain air is crisp but the M&A market is hot. Fresh off a $3.5 trln year, bankers and CEOs have plenty to discuss at the World Economic Forum annual meeting. It’s less clear the atmosphere is conducive for the important political accords for which Davos is renowned.