Breakingviews

Debenhams plucks new CEO from arms of its nemesis

May 26, 2016

Amazon is the worst thing that could happen to stodgy old department stores. Yet that’s where Britain’s Debenhams found new boss Sergio Bucher. That makes it one of a handful of UK high-street names headed up by a digital ace. The hire sounds odd, but could be inspired.

Deutsche’s latest mess looks like a Protium moment

May 20, 2016

The German bank is probing a deal that enabled ex-trading boss Colin Fan and others to profit, with leverage provided by their own employer. The investigation is ongoing. But it looks to have similar flaws to Barclays’ Protium deal - with staff interests above shareholders’.

Burberry could use refresher in old-school retail

May 17, 2016

A sector-wide slowdown has exposed the inefficiencies in the UK label’s operations. High costs and low sales density show room for tailoring. Burberry chief Christopher Bailey needs help, but of a less than luxurious kind - specifically, some traditional retail expertise.

Tesco boss spies a possible bargain

May 13, 2016

Dave Lewis is opting to take 75 pct of his bonus in shares. That aligns his 4.6 mln pound pay package better with shareholders, whose stock slumped last year. Since Tesco sales are now turning round, his timing may be shrewd. The group stocks a lot of things, but not hair shirts.

Dixon: Vote to quit EU could tip UK into recession

April 18, 2016

A victory for Brexit will trigger political turmoil and acrimonious divorce talks. Investment will grind to a halt as firms wait for the fog to clear. That could cause a recession.

Brexit job risk threatens more than just bankers

April 15, 2016

The UK might miss out on 100,000 finance roles by 2020 if it quits Europe, a trade group says. The reason those outside the City should be concerned is that the real impact could be wider and more prolonged. The trouble is, immediate job losses elsewhere may seem a bigger risk.

Pensions not steel are Tata’s big UK headache

March 31, 2016

The Indian group’s British plants have issues, but could be rendered profitable. The bigger challenge is funding shortfalls in its pension scheme for 130,000 members. If a new acquirer could find a workaround and new investment, British steelmaking could still work.

British retailers need more age-appropriate attire

March 24, 2016

Next’s same-store revenue is falling and inventory is taking a week longer to clear than a year ago. Yet it plans to grow its selling space by 8 pct. Other retailers too are expanding even when shrinking looks smarter. The maths of such strategies can quickly turn unattractive.

IHS-Markit $13 bln merger is long on hope

March 21, 2016

A bigger, diverse data company could cross-sell to different clients, the theory goes. Markit’s shareholders could end up roughly 10 pct better off. But extra revenue of $100 mln looks aspirational. Big share buybacks and high debts could hobble investment in new products.

Li Ka-shing brings funding finesse to telco M&A

March 18, 2016

The tycoon may sell 20 pct of his UK mobile unit to outsiders. That could raise 1 bln pounds to help buy Telefonica’s O2, on top of the 3.1 bln pounds sovereign funds are already chipping in. That would let Li complete the 9 bln pound deal with no fresh investment.