Breakingviews

BP and Total find downstream respite

April 28, 2015

Strong results in refining and marketing limited the profit fall at the two European majors. With the oil price down, the gains are especially welcome. But downstream overcapacity will bite in the medium term, while upstream businesses remain hostage to the oil market.

Review: The politics of anti-inequality

By Edward Hadas
April 24, 2015

Anthony Atkinson's "Inequality" is a UK-centric manifesto to help the poor and restrain the rich. The Oxford academic's specific proposals are mostly sensible, but they dodge serious questions about the role of the welfare state and the balance of national and global justice.

Labour to gain from “follow the money” UK voting

April 24, 2015

People vote with their wallets. The governing Conservative coalition may earn credit for presiding over five years of low interest rates and a strongish pound. But a Breakingviews calculator suggests a weaker record on growth, house prices and stocks could swing votes to Labour.

Tesco’s new beginnings are a long way from the end

April 22, 2015

Last year’s 6.4 bln stg pretax loss shows the size of the problems at Britain’s biggest grocer. A 45 pct share price rebound since December reflects hope that Dave Lewis, the newish CEO, will restore the retailer’s former glory. Investors are taking a great deal on trust.

Shell could win from bold $70 bln swoop on BG

April 8, 2015

The oil major is offering a fat 50 pct premium for its UK rival. But the share price was depressed and the synergies are attractive. The deal could prove a smart and opportunistic way to boost growth via deepwater assets and liquid natural gas – provided Shell keeps costs down.

Shell-BG highlights rise of the micro-boutiques

April 8, 2015

The $70 bln deal needed just three advisers: Merrill, Goldman, and minnow Robey Warshaw. Rivals like Zaoui & Co have also won major mandates. For big M&A shops, two worrying trends are intersecting: CEOs seem ready to hire fewer banks per deal and to use much smaller outfits.

Royal Dutch Shell and BG open mega-deal pipeline

April 8, 2015

The $200 bln energy giant is in advanced talks to buy its $46 bln gas rival. It could be an opportunistic move for Shell, whose vulnerable target has a new CEO. There could yet be other suitors for BG. Any deal is also bound to kick off other big transactions in the sector.

Philips earns credibility with lighting selloff

March 31, 2015

The Dutch group sold 80 pct of its lighting components unit for $2.8 bln. An Asian tech fund paid a surprisingly high 1.65 times last year’s sales. Buyout firms’ hunger for corporate cast-offs helped lift the price. A bigger test looms: splitting off the main lights business.

Review: The lucrative and controversial Blair Inc

March 20, 2015

Tony Blair has made a small fortune after stepping down as UK prime minister, advising illiberal leaders from Kuwait to Kazakhstan. A timely new book details his awkward juggling of paid and non-profit work. Blair is an extreme example of a wider challenge to politics.

Credit Suisse buys some insurance with Pru CEO

March 10, 2015

Hiring Tidjane Thiam to replace Brady Dougan should bring a fresh perspective to capital and cost conundrums. The former consultant may encounter skeptical dealmakers and regulators. Even so, his decision to leave the fast-growing UK insurer is a vote of confidence in banking.