Breakingviews

Review: Craft-beer memoir goes down easy

May 27, 2016

Jim Koch’s tale of brewing Samuel Adams is refreshingly candid about battles with Budweiser, a controversial IPO and other troubles. Unlike many stale business books, “Quench Your Own Thirst” reads like a pub chat. Only Koch’s pride in bad governance leaves a bitter aftertaste.

Review: A sobering twist on high finance

April 1, 2016

The bloody world of drug cartels becomes a fascinating business case study in journalist Tom Wainwright’s “Narconomics.” Supply-chain efficiency, R&D spending and even HR headaches factor into the analytical black joke. It’s also a lucid and persuasive argument for legalization.

Review: A love letter to shareholder poison pens

March 4, 2016

In “Dear Chairman,” hedge fund manager Jeff Gramm unearths prickly missives fired off to boards to chronicle decades of pushy investing. The book, which features Benjamin Graham, Warren Buffett and Carl Icahn, is a breezy but sophisticated guide for today’s activist era and beyond.

Jack Ma paper chase is test of newsprint’s appeal

November 26, 2015

The Alibaba founder is interested in buying Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post. The 112-year old title’s earnings are under pressure, and the financial logic looks thin. But as fellow e-commerce boss Jeff Bezos showed with the Washington Post, newspapers still have trophy value.

Media General ups M&A game with Goldman on side

November 17, 2015

The U.S. local TV broadcaster rejected Nexstar’s $4 bln bid but said it would negotiate. That’s an improvement on sticking blindly to its own deal to buy Meredith, which looks worse for shareholders and strategically odd. New advisers may be helping – and Nexstar could pay more.

Best chapter in Pearson breakup story yet to come

August 5, 2015

The media group can soon sell its 47 pct stake in publisher Penguin Random House to co-owner Bertelsmann. Including future synergies, the stake could fetch $2.7 billion, twice what Pearson got for the FT. Since the venture could get more valuable still, waiting looks better.

The Economist’s elite owners seek elite print run

July 28, 2015

The Agnellis, the Rothschilds, et al may buy more as Pearson sells. A 6 pct dividend yield has appeal. If the valuation – recently 730 mln stg – and payout are to keep rising, however, the weekly has to succeed where other publications have failed and turn its top line around.

Review: Fixing the CIA – a novel approach

December 26, 2014

Could an outsider best reform the CIA in the wake of torture revelations? In David Ignatius’ novel “The Director,” a pro-privacy tech CEO tries to drag an agency that has lost its way into a new world of tighter rules, leaky secrets and cyberthreats. Good idea, uneven results.

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.

Gannett split puts digital on wrong side of divide

August 5, 2014

The media company is spinning off newspapers, including USA Today, to unburden its TV arm. Cars.com, which Gannett is buying at a $2.5 bln valuation, would have buffered the weaker half in a similar way to Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp carve-up. Instead, print must stand on its own.