Breakingviews

Google EU antitrust spat riddled with holes

August 28, 2015

The search giant’s robust response to a European challenge over price comparison tools ratchets up a complex theoretical battle over what makes a monopoly. Yet the dispute misses a broader point: it’s hard to see how any likely outcome will make a massive difference to consumers.

Google learns ABCs of conglomerate life

August 11, 2015

The web search giant is separating cars, balloons and such from its main ad businesses under a new Berkshire Hathaway-like structure called Alphabet. The move suggests Google sees how its sprawl spells trouble. It’s an easy way to erase some, but not all, the valuation discount.

Samsung clan could call on mobile unit next

July 22, 2015

Investors may wonder how Samsung Electronics fits into the plans of the Lee family behind the South Korean chaebol. A rejig of the $180 bln smartphone giant could spur higher dividends. But the Lees’ recent win against Elliott suggest independent shareholders may suffer first.

China’s rout may disrupt online finance pioneers

July 16, 2015

Regulators have targeted Hundsun, an $8 bln trading-tech firm backed by Alibaba founder Jack Ma, over the market crash. Internet finance in China flourished in legal grey areas. If official attitudes are hardening, it will be riskier and pricier for Ma and peers to innovate.

China taxi apps speed towards subsidy showdown

June 29, 2015

Local taxi-hailing app Didi Kuaidi is raising up to $2 bln less than a month after rival Uber said it will invest $1 bln in the People’s Republic. Both are racing for market share by spending heavily on subsidies for drivers. The question is whose investors lose patience first.

SoftBank’s solar ambitions fly close to the Son

June 23, 2015

Masayoshi Son has pledged to invest $20 bln in solar energy in India with partners Bharti and Foxconn. The country’s energy needs are clear but synergies with the Japanese group’s internet businesses look dubious. Shareholders can only hope the board clips the chairman’s wings.

Review: Growth pains for Asia’s eco-capitalists

June 5, 2015

A new book by Mark Clifford hails green business as the antidote to Asia’s environmental crisis. But the eulogy inadvertently highlights companies’ unhealthy dependence on subsidies and debt. Clean-tech businesses must confront this flaw if they are to live up to the hype.

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.

HP’s China deal extracts harmony from awkwardness

May 22, 2015

Selling 51 pct of its Chinese networking unit for $2.3 bln to a state-owned company looks like a partial retreat from an unfriendly market. But the U.S. tech giant now has a powerful ally with deep ties to Beijing. Rivals from Cisco to Microsoft should consider similar matches.

Review: The virtual bubble of bitcoin

By Edward Chancellor
May 15, 2015

The digital currency fits well in the inglorious history of finance. Nathaniel Popper tells the story in “Digital Gold”. Bitcoin’s hot idea, limited supply and uncertain value helped spawn a price explosion. After the bust, the underlying technology may still have a future.