New ANZ boss stuck in strategic mid-ocean

October 1, 2015

Mike Smith is leaving as CEO of the $55 bln Australian lender after eight years. Beefing up in Asia has proved less lucrative than he hoped. Yet a slowing home economy and tightening regulation mean successor Shayne Elliott may have to stay centered somewhere in between.

WeWork stretches sharing-economy valuations

June 26, 2015

The groovy provider of office space - and beer - to millennial workers is now worth $10 bln after its latest funding round, doubling in just six months. WeWork is growing fast, but based on established rivals’ metrics earnings would need to jump 15-fold to justify that price tag.

Ready-reckoning the markets post-UK election

April 29, 2015

Next week’s British general election is unlikely to produce a clear winner. But a government will eventually be formed, even if it takes a second vote. Different medium-term trends will emerge after the inevitable short-run volatility in sterling, gilts and UK-listed stocks.

Blackstone brandishes its long-term bona fides

April 17, 2015

Nearly eight years after going public, the buyout shop is taking a victory lap. Its shares finally trade noticeably above the IPO price, and Q1 results suggest Blackstone’s model is working. Even so, owners of the firm’s equity may prove more fickle than investors in its funds.

Mall king’s $22 bln bid tests its hostile nature

March 9, 2015

A frustrated Simon Property unveiled a bear-hug offer to buy smaller rival Macerich. The top U.S. shopping center owner has used similar tactics many times before, with mixed results. The structure of the real estate industry tends to require aggression but it also can backfire.

Carlos Slim buys Spanish real estate on the cheap

March 5, 2015

The Mexican tycoon bought a 25 pct stake in property firm Realia at a discount and is eyeing a takeover. He is also the biggest shareholder of builder FCC, which in turn owns major stakes in Realia and Cementos Portland. Slim effectively controls all three. Minorities beware.

U.S. housing demand is building

December 26, 2014

The post-crisis rebound boosted home prices 25 pct even as sales and construction lagged. Increasing household formation, job creation and easing credit look set to give the market another leg up, despite rising interest rates and the headwind of sliding affordability.

Remember the UK housing bubble?

November 26, 2014

Not long ago an overheating housing market was seen by many as the big UK danger. Now mortgage approvals are dropping and house inflation is easing – even though mortgages are getting cheaper. Tighter home-loan regulation is a factor. Workers’ low earnings are the main restraint.

Sears investors too giddy about slow-mo breakup

November 7, 2014

The stock jumped 35 pct on news its hedge fund boss Eddie Lampert might create a REIT for many of its stores and lease them back. It’d raise much-needed cash. But shareholders, Lampert included, would finance the deal. And the prospects for the rump retailer remain pretty dim.

REIT scandal could be good test for Sarbanes-Oxley

October 30, 2014

American Realty Capital Properties says its false financials were intentionally left uncorrected. Details are scant, but that sounds tailor-made for the Enron-inspired law. After more than a decade as an afterthought for U.S. prosecutors, the reform may have a chance to shine.