Breakingviews

Pfizer’s pricey non-split may only defer problem

September 26, 2016

After years of study costing $600 mln, the drugmaker says it won't break itself up. Boss Ian Read always seemed keener on acquisitions. It's true the process helped close a conglomerate discount. But Pfizer's sprawl and tendency to overpay means the gap may soon reappear.

Latest Apple rumor may vanish as fast as a McLaren

September 22, 2016

The iPhone giant may have approached the British supercar firm. Apple, though, has made few acquisitions, even to help it pioneer smartphones. While McLaren is high-tech, it's hard to see it taking Apple's car ambitions far. Fancy can run free when a company has $230 bln of cash.

Cox: Apple and Tesla really need each other now

By Rob Cox
September 20, 2016

Tim Cook may be revamping his approach to autonomous cars, while Elon Musk needs capital and corporate credibility. An Apple stake in Musk's electric carmaker would help both. Adding the Tesla founder to the iPhone giant's board could catalyze innovation there, too.

Abbott eases its M&A risk with $4.3 bln asset sale

September 19, 2016

With two acquisitions worth over $30 bln pending – and the purchase of Alere, in particular, not going smoothly – the $62 bln health firm is vulnerable. Selling its eye-surgery unit to J&J gives Abbott needed financial breathing room and perhaps extra leverage with Alere.

Wells Fargo puts size to a fresh regulatory test

September 15, 2016

U.S. authorities aren't finished with the $1.9 trln bank's fake-accounts scandal. Top brass at small lenders have been punished harshly in the past, including industry bans, for misdeeds. If Wells Fargo executives slip away, it'll escalate tension over the accountability divide.

Bayer can still be saved from $66 bln splurge

September 14, 2016

The agreed takeover of U.S. rival Monsanto is too expensive. The German group's investors have probably lost $7 bln in value already. The question is whether antitrust regulators do what shareholders can't and nix the tie-up. Paying the $2 bln break fee would still be preferable.

Chancellor: No hyperinflation, just Weimar malaise

September 13, 2016

Central-bank money printing hasn't produced the spiralling prices that plagued the Weimar Republic. It has, though, delivered some of the social disquiet of 1920s Germany. Policymakers urging more extreme monetary actions need to exercise caution lest they get what they wish for.

Private equity could regret scaling Capitol Hill

September 9, 2016

Buyout firms have successfully promoted legislation to roll back disclosures required under Dodd-Frank even as they settle cases over misleading investors. If the bill passes, however, there's a risk of repercussions. Washington critics may redouble efforts against the industry.

A $1 trln un-merger record that’s hard to beat

September 7, 2016

Even with two more U.S. mega-deals on the rocks, 2015 is set to retain the global M&A crown. There soon will come a year, though, which surpasses its $4.4 trln of activity. It's the record volume of withdrawn acquisitions in 1999 that's more likely to stand the test of time.

Fox settlements another price for poor governance

September 6, 2016

Rupert Murdoch's Twenty-First Century Fox settled a high-profile lawsuit against former TV boss Roger Ailes as accusations of his sexual peccadilloes snowball. Like the phone-hacking scandal in the UK, it's a result of lax oversight abetted by a dual-class share structure.