Glaxo self-help looks better than surgeon’s knife

February 3, 2016

The UK pharma group has come under pressure to split itself up after weak performance. Latest results show Glaxo is coming to terms with its challenges. A breakup wouldn’t create much value, absent a premium bid. That gives Chief Executive Andrew Witty breathing space.

Murdoch’s second season could be good for Sky

January 29, 2016

Four years after resigning at the height of a phone-hacking scandal, James Murdoch is back as chairman of the pay-TV group. That may rattle minority investors, but Murdoch has proven himself. It would be an odd move if Fox planned to buy the 61 percent of the company it doesn’t own.

Santander has been punished enough

January 27, 2016

It has been easy to construct a bear case around the Spanish bank based on its Brazilian exposure, weak capital and frail home market. But with shares trading below those of peers, the bad news is already priced in.

UK business faces its own In-Out dilemma on Europe

January 21, 2016

The British prime minister wants companies not to “hold back” on Britain’s future in Europe. Such a call must be heeded with caution. If the pro-EU debate hinges on what’s good for business – or even worse, the City – it may backfire.

Tesco recovery starts with some gorilla tactics

January 14, 2016

The UK retailer’s sales have bounced back to growth. The reason is that Tesco is cutting costs sharply, shoring up its dominant market share. It’s an essential part of a retail turnaround, but doesn’t immediately help the bigger goal of generating cash to reduce its indebtedness.

When UK retailers fight, shareholders lose

January 13, 2016

Sainsbury, like rival Morrison, says sales are improving after years of declines. What’s really happening is that grocers scrabble for revenue at the expense of profit, while the whole market stays flat. The other signs investors care about are going in the wrong direction.

Grolsch could leave bitter taste at Asahi

January 13, 2016

Japan’s top brewer is eyeing beers left over from ABI’s takeover of SABMiller. A mooted $3.4 bln tab for Peroni and Grolsch sounds frothy, especially with limited potential to cut costs. Asahi looks desperate for overseas growth, even at the expense of shareholder value.

Bowie’s financial legacy is actually Hunky Dory

January 11, 2016

The rock legend’s 1997 catalogue securitisation prompted a host of securities backed by unusual assets. Music industry-specific issues meant Bowie’s own bonds were later downgraded. But despite a global financial crisis, the wider field of esoteric ABS has a genuine future.

Bank culture just one side of a strategic trilemma

January 7, 2016

Britain has scrapped a state probe into banking ethics. So it should – such reviews are usually a waste of time. A better way is to see bank culture, size and shareholder value as three irreconcilable sides of a triangle. Recent history suggests banks can achieve, at most, only two.

Ivan Glasenberg may be mining’s last man standing

December 31, 2015

The Glencore chief outlasted his peers when the commodity boom turned in 2013. The sector may be due another shakeout in 2016 if prices keep falling. But Glasenberg’s big stake in Glencore and his newfound dash of humility mean his copper plating should last another year.