New Shell chairman has a tough job on his hands

October 30, 2014

Charles Holliday arrives at the Anglo-Dutch major as oil prices slump towards $85 a barrel. After a dismal 2013, Shell is making good progress. But while Holliday has sound experience at DuPont and Bank of America, he will need to learn the tricks of his new trade quickly.

Nutreco’s $3 bln buyout shows value of food chain

October 20, 2014

The Dutch fish and animal-feed giant is about to be gobbled up in a $3.4 bln friendly deal. The buyer is SHV, the family outfit behind the Makro cash-and-carry chain. With no synergies, this deal is better seen as a long-term bet on growing global demand for protein.

Philips lighting split is a bright idea

June 30, 2014

The Dutch conglomerate is restructuring again, moving high-powered LEDs and car lights into a standalone unit with 1.4 bln euros in sales. The business is fast-growing and would benefit from outside capital. Stepping out of the parent’s shadow should help.

Unilever washes off emerging-market uncertainties

January 21, 2014

Currencies and slowing growth are working against the consumer staples giant. But forex aside, the trends in developing economies remain firmly positive. For Unilever, the declines in developed markets’ revenues and profits are more worrying.

Dutch downgrade is a lagging indicator

November 29, 2013

The Netherlands’ loss of triple-A status stems from weaker growth. The economy is recovering slowly from a housing bust that has pulverised household finances. But property prices are bottoming, debt is low and reform is underway. Other euro zone members are bigger worries.

Shell faces reality: it’s not about the barrels

August 1, 2013

Disappointing results at the Anglo-Dutch energy giant partly reflect an outdated way of thinking. Oil majors have long obsessed simultaneously over reserve replacement, production growth and profit. Shell’s decision to ditch medium-term production targets shows it’s wising up.

KPN’s 8.1 bln euro German retreat is at full value

July 23, 2013

Telefonica of Spain is buying the Dutch group’s German unit, E-Plus, in a cash and shares deal equating to 9 times EBITDA. That is a big multiple by the depressed standards of European mobile. KPN is getting a large slice of the deal’s hefty synergies.

Malone swoop frees Barclays but traps Ziggo

March 28, 2013

Liberty Global has a paper profit of over 40 mln euros after buying 13 pct of Dutch cable company Ziggo from Barclays. It’s typically shrewd of Liberty owner John Malone - Barclays was desperate following a botched share sale. But Ziggo shareholders should have mixed feelings.

Europe brings the pain for UPS and TNT

January 14, 2013

Competition watchdogs are barking again, after killing DB-NYSE last year. A likely EU veto has led the U.S. courier to drop a $7 bln bid for its Dutch peer. TNT’s stock is down 50 pct. If the group’s strategy since its demerger has been to get bought, it needs to think again.

Dutch politics returns to centre – and Europe

September 13, 2012

After flirting with anti-euro and anti-austerity groups, voters overwhelmingly backed mainstream parties. Fears that a core euro zone state would pick a radical government have receded. But forging a coalition won’t be easy, and fringe voices stand ready to exploit any unease.