“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.

Bankers get ammo but no ally in regulation tussle

May 22, 2015

Financiers unhappy with tougher regulation can cite new analysis from the BIS. The central banks’ own central bank says new standards will probably change how economies and markets work. But the BIS is firmly focussed on coping with the new paradigm, not returning to the old one.

UK jail-a-banker rules will hike board pay

February 25, 2015

That’s the likely upshot of Britain’s new regime to hold financiers accountable for wrongdoing. Regulators have stopped short of applying the rules to all non-executives, but half of most boards still risk incarceration. As a result, they will probably demand more money.

Asia’s top-down corporate reforms vary in promise

August 25, 2014

Newish leaders across the region are pushing to change the way companies work. Although the mechanisms and targets vary between countries, increasing efficiency appears to be a common theme. But investors eyeing improved returns will find not all reforms are equal.