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That’s where the chefs are British, the lovers Swiss and the mechanics French. Pirelli risks becoming the corporate equivalent: the management Italian (as in the joke), its owner a Chinese state enterprise, and other partners Russian. Minority investors won’t find it funny.

Bumper European share sales carry risk of excess

Banks have hawked big slugs of EU stock in overnight placings, with 5 bln euros worth offered in three days. For now, underwriters have support from QE-powered strong markets, so they’ll risk losses for the sake of league table kudos. But complacency seems to be creeping in.

ZTE's turnaround not as impressive up close

The Chinese telco equipment maker’s earnings almost doubled in 2014 – an improvement on the losses it was making three years ago. Yet revenue increased just 8 percent. ZTE is banking on smartphones and wearables to drive growth, but users don’t yet seem to be taking the bait.

Kraft investors bet Heinz can refill secret sauce

The Velveeta cheese maker’s stock jumped a third – making the company worth nearly $50 bln – on news of its sale to the ketchup giant, which 3G Capital and Warren Buffett took private in 2013. The math works if Heinz can repeat its margin magic and leap hurdles to scaling Kraft.

Deutsche Bank's long round trip

The German bank spent two decades expanding massively into the capital markets business. Along the way, it lost touch with its original mission of serving German businesses and their owners, without finding a viable new one. The crisis has spurred a return to traditional values.

Hermes shares look too glossy

The French group weathered luxury market headwinds well in 2014 and will pay a 530 mln euro special dividend. Rivals Kering and LVMH were hit harder but are recovering. That makes the silk tie-maker’s luxury valuation of 32 times forward earnings more difficult to justify.

Good news: China's bad debts are on the rise

Agricultural Bank’s 28 percent increase in duff loans over six months looks modest next to what’s happening at some lenders. Across the board, write-offs and overdue loans are ballooning. Still, China’s economic slowdown may be giving cover for some welcome honesty.