Breakingviews

HSBC in 2020: An imagined letter to shareholders

May 15, 2015

Moving its head office to Shanghai marks a new era for the bank, writes chairman Hank Paulson in a make-believe memo. However, despite escaping hostile regulators in the aftermath of Britain’s divorce from the European Union, HSBC faces many challenges, both familiar and new.

HSBC revival overshadowed by existential questions

May 5, 2015

Better investment banking revenue and fewer bad loans boosted the $194 bln bank’s quarterly results. That’s a welcome respite from the Swiss tax furore. Still, long-term fortunes rest on decisions about its shape, head office location and UK business. None will be resolved soon.

UK politics is failing the trust test

By Hugo Dixon
May 4, 2015

In the run-up to the May 7 election, the public has lambasted leaders of the established parties for breaking promises and lack of candour. While the critique is healthy, Britain has yet to give birth to leaders who score high on integrity. This is needed, not just in the UK.

StanChart equities closure is overdue but welcome

January 8, 2015

The emerging markets bank has pulled the plug on its share trading and underwriting arm, cutting 200 jobs. It’s a rational but still-rare step for a business that suffers from chronic overcapacity. Rivals will feel extra pressure to justify their decision to soldier on.

Scots’ no to independence still leaves UK in limbo

September 19, 2014

The roughly 55:45 vote against secession in a landmark referendum reduces many risks: financial instability, a UK exit from Europe and a sharp fall in trade. But the bribe to no-voters of more devolved powers creates other dangers – including a weakening of the union.

Astra has small tactical advantage over Pfizer

May 1, 2014

Time can benefit bidders rather than targets – that’s why Kraft left Cadbury flailing for months. But uncertainties around regulatory clearance and Washington politics complicate the dynamics of Pfizer’s approach to AstraZeneca. The U.S. group will want a quick, recommended deal.

New London air hub plan needs public money to fly

December 1, 2011

Heathrow is a jam-packed embarrassment for those who promote London as a global financial centre. A brand new four-runway hub in the Thames estuary is appealing but expensive. Even using rosy forecasts, it is hard to see an all-private enterprise earning a decent return.

UK banks need government to solve funding squeeze

December 6, 2011

The Bank of England’s new 30-day facility should help keep lenders afloat if the euro crisis causes short-term liquidity to dry up. But banks also need help refinancing 140 billion pounds of term debt in 2012. For that, the state may need to guarantee their debt once more.

UK cuts pensions and workers — without a fight

December 21, 2011

The compromise between the UK government and public-sector workers over pensions looks like an important breakthrough. But if David Cameron is emerging as a consensual politician, it is with a very hard edge.

Murdochs’ UK political friendships backfire on all

April 24, 2012

A public probe is exposing unhealthy contact between the British government and News Corp. That creates new uncertainty over the media group’s part ownership of pay-TV firm BSkyB. And the impression that ministers were compromised has the makings of a full-blown political crisis.