Breakingviews

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.

Gannett carve-up is just a matter of Time

June 5, 2014

The $6.6 bln owner of USA Today isn’t getting credit for its TV transformation. Apply broadcaster valuations, and the newspapers are all but ignored by investors. As Time Warner sets free its publishing arm this week, a Breakingviews analysis suggests Gannett should do the same.

Pearson makes a tidy turn in the merger market

November 29, 2013

The UK publisher is selling Mergermarket to private equity at an enterprise value of 382 mln stg - far more than it paid for the news and data firm. Loyal subscribers, good cashflows, and potential bolt-on deals are probably bigger draws for the buyer than any M&A resurgence.

Review: At Apple’s core, a fitting man of mystery

November 15, 2013

Jony Ive is the British perfectionist who leads the U.S. tech giant’s design team. A new book shows his huge influence uniting form and function at Apple. But Ive the man remains largely hidden behind a screen that’s as obsessively crafted as any of the company’s gadgets.

Review: Buffett clan puts up a good food fight

October 25, 2013

The Oracle of Omaha has made billions and his farmer son is helping give them away. In “Forty Chances,” Howard Buffett chronicles efforts to end world hunger and bad philanthropic habits. It’s hard at times to relate to the plight, but reassuring to know his family is on the case.

Springer Science IPO: subscription needs research

June 6, 2013

The academic publisher might raise 760 mln euros from a Frankfurt debut. Steady growth and high margins are appealing, but the rise of cheaper “open source” publications could prove hard to manage. To judge from the performance of Reed Elsevier shares, investors aren’t worried.

A brief history of Time: an epic M&A tale

March 7, 2013

The gold standard of U.S. magazines proved the ultimate currency for building a giant media conglomerate. Spinning off the legacy of Henry Luce’s 1920s vision represents the last step in dismantling the Time Warner empire. Vast value was created and destroyed along the way.

Review: Embracing the psychopath within

November 9, 2012

“The Wisdom of Psychopaths” is a good read lurking within a bad one. Amidst the showboating, Kevin Dutton’s book mines brain science to make a cogent case that some psychopathic traits - seen in CEOs, traders and monks as well as serial killers - are not only necessary, but good.