Breakingviews

Late cycle M&A runs afoul of U.S. trustbusters

December 7, 2015

Enforcers stopped GE’s sale of its ovens business to Electrolux, put the lid on a canned tuna union and may yet erase Office Depot’s sale to Staples. Some health insurance mergers may be at risk, too. In a record year for acquisitions, it’s becoming hard to find clean ones.

Bankers catch a crumb in critical conflicts case

November 30, 2015

Delaware’s top court chided RBC in its upholding of a $76 mln penalty against the firm for working both sides of a deal. In a footnote, though, the tribunal toned down a lower court’s notion that advisers must save directors from themselves. The buck still stops in the boardroom.

AB InBev’s SABMiller deal losing big-brand fizz

November 30, 2015

The Budweiser brewer may sell SAB’s Peroni and Grolsch labels to speed antitrust clearances, reports say. The Molson venture in the U.S. has already gone and China may demand disposals. AB InBev will retain some gems, but the SABMiller empire could soon be unrecognizable.

Climate will supplant shale as top energy disruptor

November 27, 2015

The world’s politicians may be about to get serious on cutting greenhouse gases at the U.N. Paris confab. And shareholders are pushing Big Oil to disclose global warming risks. The consequences for the industry will be longer lasting than the recent oil production revolution.

Barclays money-laundering rap is oddly reassuring

November 26, 2015

The UK bank has been fined for cutting corners on a 1.9 bln stg deal for politically sensitive clients in 2011. The temptation for banks to bend the rules for VIPs is just as strong today. But more vigilant regulators are chipping away at the idea that this is business as usual.

Europe’s terrible banks look their best in years

November 25, 2015

Capital levels, profitability and lending rose in the six months to June, the European Banking Authority says. Bad loan ratios are almost double those of U.S. banks, and more EU quantitative easing could be bad for business. Even so, lenders are proving surprisingly healthy.

UK shuts stable door after HBOS horse has bolted

By Breakingviews Columnists
November 19, 2015

Regulators are to look at whether those responsible for the bust lender’s demise should face censure. Judging by another report into why HBOS failed, the answer may well be yes. But the meaningful penalties remaining – pension clawbacks or big fines – look legally tricky.

China margin finance squeeze is partial solution

November 17, 2015

Regulators have halved the amount punters can borrow to buy stocks on China’s A-share market. That’s a step towards preventing another speculative bubble. But greater transparency and acceptance of short-selling are also necessary to put equity markets on a more stable footing.

Congress’ insider traders finally out of excuses

November 16, 2015

A U.S. judge has ordered lawmakers to cough up evidence about a dodgy tip, ending more than a year of stonewalling and bogus claims of immunity. With Capitol Hill contemplating an even stronger ban on improper Wall Street trades, the least it can do is play by its own rules.

New York coal settlement could be climate canary

November 9, 2015

Peabody’s deal with state prosecutors over misleading atmospheric risks may inform a similar probe of Exxon. Though the lack of fines is a weak sign, the miner at least must share its assessment of possible climate rules. That could expose the danger of stranded energy assets.