Breakingviews

EU offers vitamin pill to dying media patient

August 26, 2016

Brussels wants to give media the right to seek compensation from search engines like Google that use online content. The intention is laudable - some publishers may be losing out. But the proposal has similarities with schemes in Germany and Spain - which haven’t worked.

Singapore eyes last trick in the book to win IPOs

August 24, 2016

The city-state is moving closer to introducing dual-class shares. A growing sense of desperation about a moribund market for new listings has reduced opposition to such a move. The risks of giving up the high ground on shareholder democracy are likely to outweigh any rewards.

China Film’s opening week follows bad IPO script

August 15, 2016

Shares in China's biggest film distributor have more than doubled in their first week of trading. Never mind that ticket sales are falling across China. Artificially low prices and curbs on new issues mean that post-IPO performance is often divorced from fundamentals.

“Frack Master” suit is a sign of bezzle shrinkage

June 27, 2016

The U.S. SEC says Chris Faulkner inflated his shale-oil company’s prospects, then blew $80 mln of investors’ money on dodgy expenses. Hard times tend to reveal bad boom-era behavior. The oil patch’s lax governance makes it an obvious place for regulators to hunt for culprits.

Rail mega-deal pushed all the wrong buttons

April 11, 2016

Canadian Pacific’s unsolicited $28 bln offer for rival Norfolk Southern managed to alienate nearly every ally it needed: U.S. regulators, the target’s board, customers, lawmakers and even the American military. The bidder has finally pulled the right lever – eject.

UK Faustian pact with banks has a grim logic

February 15, 2016

HSBC’s unsurprising decision to stay domiciled in London rounds off nine months of the UK softening its approach to banks. There are reasons to find this new tone uncomfortable. But that is a moot point so long as the banking sector supplies 7 pct of UK income tax revenue.

VW’s U.S. lawsuit shows reboot is only half done

January 5, 2016

A strongly worded government complaint has undermined Volkswagen’s progress in tackling its emissions scandal. U.S. laws are tougher than in Europe, and the German carmaker’s lobbying clout there is smaller. VW needs drastic steps to win goodwill.

Bank rule zealots will be forced to back down

December 2, 2015

Basel-based standard setters are finalising capital adequacy reforms that banks call “Basel IV”. But they clash with European policymakers’ growth plans and their Anglo-Saxon counterparts’ push for regulatory easing. The Bank of England’s newfound leniency will embolden others.

VW’s new fiasco puts governance back in crosshairs

November 3, 2015

The carmaker is taking a 2 bln euro charge after saying it may have cheated on fuel-economy stats, too. This escalation yet again flags VW’s rotten processes and culture. Appointing outsiders as directors, chairman and even CEO would be the best way to prove it’s cleaning house.

Credible VW cleanup calls for external chairman

September 24, 2015

After replacing its chief executive, the German carmaker should look for a new chair. Picking long-term CFO Hans Dieter Poetsch was questionable even before the emissions cheating was uncovered. It’s now untenable - VW’s restart needs to be driven by an independent outsider.