Breakingviews

 
Hiring Unilever exec Dave Lewis to replace Phil Clarke as CEO shows necessary decisiveness. A profit alert highlights the urgency of the situation. The UK grocer needs radical reinvention. The structure could be simplified, and braver tactics in the UK price war may be required.

The perks and pitfalls of depending on Jack Ma

Alibaba’s founder, chairman and spiritual sultan will continue to exert near-total control of the Chinese e-commerce giant even after its massive IPO. For prospective shareholders, the question is whether Ma can be trusted to act in their interest. The answer is a qualified yes.

Time Warner can justifiably hold out for more

Though Rupert Murdoch’s $80 bln bid includes a 20 pct premium, his quarry may have been on track to achieve the offer price on its own. Time Warner also should be able to get more credit from the market for its growth. That gives boss Jeff Bewkes some negotiating power with Fox.

UK banks have much to fear from latest probe

Britain’s top antitrust watchdog has warned lenders to expect a full-blown competition investigation. Forced divestments would be a surprising outcome. But given the persistence of concern in spite of past probes, investors should brace for radical, profit-sapping remedies.

Malaysia Airlines plight points to riskier world

Fatal air passenger accidents almost never happen. Malaysia Airlines has been struck by tragedy twice in four months. The aviation industry has its own challenges. Yet even more robust businesses need to consider political risk carefully.

Murdoch may be heading for Pyrrhic Time Warner win

The media mogul’s rebuffed $80 bln bid for his rival already looks a stretch. He’d need more than twice the $1 bln of expected synergies to cover that premium – and a ton of debt. History suggests the octogenarian won’t give up – and may destroy value by offering more.

London real estate at an inflection point

Property values in the UK capital are up 20 pct in a year. But leading indicators – buyer enquiries, new mortgages and volumes – have stalled. For prices to hold, foreign buyers will have to spend more in spite of a stronger pound and punitive taxation.