Breakingviews

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.

Pipeline rebuff could stir activist hornets’ nest

August 19, 2016

Williams, fresh off a failed merger with Energy Transfer, recently ignored larger rival Enterprise Products' approach about an $80 bln tie-up. The company's silence may prompt two pushy investors who joined a board exodus in June to lobby again to oust CEO Alan Armstrong.

“Frack Master” suit is a sign of bezzle shrinkage

June 27, 2016

The U.S. SEC says Chris Faulkner inflated his shale-oil company’s prospects, then blew $80 mln of investors’ money on dodgy expenses. Hard times tend to reveal bad boom-era behavior. The oil patch’s lax governance makes it an obvious place for regulators to hunt for culprits.

Williams admits stress fracture in $22 bln deal

June 9, 2016

The U.S. pipeline owner said it may slash its dividend if the sale to Energy Transfer falls through. Despite the buyer’s efforts to renegotiate or wriggle out of the merger, Williams has held firm. The payout warning may be a tactic, but failure until now hasn’t been an option.

Qatar’s debt bonanza stores up problems for future

May 27, 2016

Too much of a good thing could be bad for the Gulf state. It has just raised a whopping $9 billion in the bond market thanks to investors’ hunger for yield. Loading up on debt will help Qatar cope with lower energy prices, but just dodges its biggest problem: lavish spending.

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.

Exxon Mobil reaches bottom of the oil barrel

April 29, 2016

The energy goliath suffered a 63 pct fall in quarterly profit. Rivals Chevron and Conoco were hurting, too, as crude fell below $30 in January before investment cuts helped ease excess supply and push up the price. Recovery will be slow and uneven, but the worst is probably past.

Saudi Arabia’s post-oil reform vision looks blurry

April 25, 2016

Riyadh’s new plan to reform the economy, Vision 2030, entails creating a giant SWF and listing a stake in state oil firm Aramco. It will raise cash, but won’t solve the kingdom’s crude problem. To truly advance as an economy, Saudi needs greater economic and social openness.

Chancellor: Oil prices don’t need a Doha to rise

April 22, 2016

An agreement among feuding OPEC members to cut production may still be elusive. But the Saudis and other oil-producing nations are in no position to ramp up. As U.S. oil output is set to fall sharply this year, the price of energy is likely to keep heading upwards.

Cox: Argentina, Aramco are deals for tricky times

By Rob Cox
January 26, 2016

Two big transactions dominated Davos. One would open up a democracy to capital markets after years of feckless governance and isolation. The other is designed to help a repressive regime retain power. In the world’s current parlous state, it’s to be hoped that both get done.