Breakingviews

Breakdown: What’s driving China’s latest web boom?

July 20, 2015

The newest buzzword is O2O, or “online to offline”. Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent are racing to connect half a billion smartphone users to local services, from taxis to takeaways. There’s huge growth – but this is an expensive battle. Breakingviews offers a download.

Hudson’s Bay wangles way back to Teutonic roots

June 15, 2015

The Canadian owner of U.S. store Saks – once an English company headed by a German – has the best of a $3 bln deal to buy Cologne-based retailer Kaufhof. Offloading real estate will help it finance the trade. It also gives Hudson’s Bay a cushion against old world risks.

Tesco’s South Korean unit stacks up for a buyout

June 9, 2015

A disposal for around $6 bln would do much to fix the British grocer’s strained balance sheet. Tesco might not miss the Korean earnings that much either. It’s hard to see trade buyers bidding up the price. But it presents a rare opportunity for private equity in Asia.

Jack Ma turns Reorient into free-money factory

June 1, 2015

The Alibaba founder’s fund is among investors taking control of the Hong Kong investment firm. Though their plans are vague, the shares promptly soared, handing the new owners a $5 billion-plus paper gain. It’s another example of Ma’s involvement creating value from thin air.

India online retail hierarchy looks far from fixed

May 14, 2015

Investors are pouring money into the country searching for the next Alibaba or Amazon. Though India’s e-commerce opportunity is huge, low barriers to entry mean it is easy for anyone with deep pockets to spoil the party.

Ahold-Delhaize is a 25 bln euro deal full of hope

May 11, 2015

The shares of both Dutch-listed grocer and its potential Belgian-listed target were up strongly on reports of renewed merger negotiations. A combination of the two U.S.-centric companies makes sense. But financing could be an issue, and the American market will still be tough.

Tesco’s new beginnings are a long way from the end

April 22, 2015

Last year’s 6.4 bln stg pretax loss shows the size of the problems at Britain’s biggest grocer. A 45 pct share price rebound since December reflects hope that Dave Lewis, the newish CEO, will restore the retailer’s former glory. Investors are taking a great deal on trust.

Philips earns credibility with lighting selloff

March 31, 2015

The Dutch group sold 80 pct of its lighting components unit for $2.8 bln. An Asian tech fund paid a surprisingly high 1.65 times last year’s sales. Buyout firms’ hunger for corporate cast-offs helped lift the price. A bigger test looms: splitting off the main lights business.

U.S. mega-mall deal features bazaar tactics

March 18, 2015

Macerich rejected an unsolicited $22 bln takeover bid from larger rival Simon Property. The suitor’s touted 30 pct premium may really be worth less. Even so, the target’s decision to shield itself by undoing good corporate governance is the more disingenuous haggling move.

Inditex shares no longer a bargain

March 18, 2015

The Zara owner’s stock has risen more than 20 percent this year. The weakening euro is an advantage over rival H&M. The Spanish recovery and the group’s nimble business model justify a premium valuation. But at more than 30 times earnings, the good news is already in the shares.