Samsung Note 7 fires offer glimpse of new leader

September 5, 2016

Faulty batteries have forced the $230 bln giant to recall its latest smartphone. The financial fallout may be manageable. But it gives outsiders a way to assess heir apparent Jay Y. Lee, who is trying to assert his authority on the conglomerate. Drastic action is encouraging.

Verizon doubles down on ancient web history

July 25, 2016

The telecom giant is spending $4.8 bln on Yahoo's core business. CEO Lowell McAdam is betting he can attract digital advertisers by meshing the internet-search firm with AOL, another 1990s high-flier Verizon bought last year. Trouble is, Facebook and Google are too far ahead.

Japan’s chat app IPO is more Twitter than WeChat

July 1, 2016

Messaging platform Line is going public with a valuation of up to $6.6 bln. Like Chinese rival WeChat, it has lured millions with games and virtual stickers. Yet its user base has stopped growing. Like Twitter, it must now try to squeeze more revenue out of those people.

Vodafone and Liberty get square peg in round hole

February 16, 2016

A Dutch venture between the UK mobile giant and John Malone’s cable group looks almost too neat. Valuations match perfectly, management will be shared. Vodafone probably sacrificed a bit of value, but with 3.5 bln euros in synergies, it works for both.

Global smartphone brands face mass extinction

December 23, 2015

The industry’s growth has slipped below 10 pct for the first time. Apple and Samsung’s high-end phones are taking most of the spoils while upstarts like China’s Xiaomi pick up first-time buyers. Loss-making brands like HTC and Sony may be forced to conclude the game is over.

Ambani towers pact sets up Indian telco comeback

December 7, 2015

Anil Ambani’s Reliance Communications could halve its $6 bln net debt with the sale of its telecom towers. A string of recent deals - and closer ties with his richer older brother - mean the tycoon is almost ready to do battle in the next round of India’s costly mobile war.

Indian telco M&A calls for closer Ambani ties

November 3, 2015

Anil Ambani’s Reliance Communications is buying the Indian unit of Sistema, giving the country’s fourth mobile operator extra spectrum. That makes indebted RCom a more attractive partner for an upstart led by brother Mukesh. A deeper alliance would seal the siblings’ truce.

Hostile bid makes best TV in U.S. broadcast fight

September 28, 2015

Nexstar wants to buy Media General for $4.1 bln, breaking up the latter’s agreed merger with Meredith. The new offer makes financial sense for Media General owners and would create a local TV player minus the baggage of magazines. The mystery is why Nexstar wasn’t first choice.

Altice keeps powder dry in $18 bln Cablevision bid

September 17, 2015

Patrick Drahi’s telecoms group is buying its second U.S. cable operator to become the fourth-largest player. The valuation looks high but savings will help. Importantly, Altice isn’t contributing much cash. Possible co-investment with private equity could reduce costs further.

Beware a bluff from poker-playing Dish boss

June 4, 2015

Charlie Ergen would be making a bold bet by merging his $35 bln U.S. satellite operator with similarly-sized wireless provider T-Mobile US. Given the spectrum Dish has accumulated, a deal could make sense. Ergen has proven wily, though, and plays his cards very carefully.