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Jul 29, 2013
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“Equality” in Big Ad merger may be hard to sustain

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By Chris Hughes and Quentin Webb

The authors are Reuters Breakingviews columnists. The opinions expressed are their own.

The merger of equals between Publicis and Omnicom is easier to proclaim than to sustain. The combination of the two advertising groups is neat, but it carries risks. Mergers of equals have a bad name. That used to be because U.S. deals were wedged into the structure just to benefit from more generous tax rules. Nowadays, it is more often because they are a nil-premium takeover in disguise, with one company winning the battle for board seats, head-office location and name.

Jul 8, 2013
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What UK finance should take from Andy Murray

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By Christopher Hughes

(The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own)

The Wimbledon tennis championships used to reflect the UK’s position in financial services. The British accepted that they would never be the best tennis players, and instead drew satisfaction in hosting an event that attracted top talent from abroad. It was the same in finance. After the “Big Bang” deregulation in 1986, London became a place where foreign banks thrived. Now victory by Scottish-born Andy Murray in Wimbledon’s men’s singles final on Sunday has robbed the UK financial sector of this comforting analogy.

May 1, 2013

Unilever defies buyback vigilantes

(The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own)

By Chris Hughes

LONDON, April 30 (Reuters Breakingviews) – Unilever (ULVR.L: Quote, Profile, Research) (UNc.AS: Quote, Profile, Research) is breaking some of the basic rules of corporate finance. Investors, being keen on financial logic, aren’t impressed.

Feb 28, 2013
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EU bonus lesson: self-regulate or worse follows

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By Chris Hughes

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

The regulation of pay in Europe marks an unwelcome watershed in post-crisis financial reform. European Union lawmakers on Thursday finally approved rules to cap bank bonuses relative to base salaries. Regulating for competition or financial stability is one thing. Intervening in how people are paid is quite another.

Feb 19, 2013

EU bonus crackdown means more cash for bankers

(The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions
expressed are his own)

By Chris Hughes

LONDON, Feb 19 (Reuters Breakingviews) – If Europe wants to
hard wire excess pay for bankers, it is going the right way
about it. Proposals to set a maximum ratio of bonuses to salary
are so manifestly counterproductive that it’s hard to believe
they have gained almost unstoppable momentum among European
Union members. Bad policy is what happens when weak management
in the financial industry collides with the politics of envy.

Feb 6, 2013
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Liberty pushes envelope for post-crisis M&A debt

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By Christopher Hughes
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own. 

Liberty Global’s $23 billion offer for Virgin Media marks a turning point in post-crisis deal finance. This cable-TV mega-merger has most of the hallmarks of the pre-crisis boom. The target’s shareholders are being paid partly in their own cash, which will be extracted from Virgin Media through some ambitious financing operations. Leverage may not be pushed up to pre-crisis highs, but this is still a big moment.

Jan 25, 2013

“Don’t be evil” business mantra not conflict-free

By Chris Hughes

DAVOS, Switzerland, Jan 25 (Reuters Breakingviews) -
G oogle’s (GOOG.O: Quote, Profile, Research) mantra, “Don’t be evil,” sounds so easy. But
businesses, including the search giant, have struggled with
avoiding harm while aspiring to do good. Executives gathered at
the World Economic Forum in Davos see a simple logic: comporting
themselves in socially beneficial ways can hurt financially in
the short term, but must be good for business over time.
Immediate conflicts, however, could make that promise difficult
to uphold.

The pressure to change comes from society. In banking, it’s
because taxpayers rescued the banking system. A financial firm
that devises complicated structures to help clients minimise tax
bills is going to find itself vilified by the media. Tax
structuring is, in theory, a perfect post-crisis business for
banks: it requires no capital and is highly profitable. But it
doesn’t pass a socially useful test and can damage the brand. On
balance, that makes a decision to exit easy.

Jan 24, 2013
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Davos desperately seeking the next Internet

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By Christopher Hughes
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

To feel good again, the world’s financial elite need a growth catalyst like the Internet. America’s shale gas revolution fits the bill. Ask delegates at the World Economic Forum in Davos for their 2013 outlook, and that simple idea features in most answers. It may only surface as a passing reference in conversations around the Swiss ski resort. But in the echo chamber of Davos, the notion that shale gas is a reason to be bullish has become common wisdom.

Jan 21, 2013
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Heathrow needs decisive capacity fix

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By Chris Hughes

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Heathrow spent more than 36 million pounds on improving its snow defences after the chaos in 2010. The result? More bad publicity for London’s hub airport when this winter’s first blizzards hit. Heathrow’s operational upgrades have failed to address the fundamental problems it faces.

Oct 18, 2012
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Coffey to go

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By Chris Hughes

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Greg Coffey’s retirement at 41 from Moore Capital marks the end of the big personality era in hedge funds. The macro trader’s success was based on drive, personality and talent, plus the usual hedge fund ingredients – luck, leverage and high management and performance fees. His luck ran out at GLG Partners when the Lehman crisis hammered his illiquid positions. Clearly, something else has gone at Moore Capital.

    • About Chris

      "Chris Hughes is EMEA Editor of Reuters Breakingviews. Chris started his career as a researcher in BBC Television’s documentaries department and then became a financial journalist. He was previously Investment Banking Correspondent and Senior Corporate Reporter at the Financial Times, Financial Editor of The Independent and a companies writer at the Investors Chronicle. Chris has also worked at communications consultancy Financial Dynamics (now FTI), as an Associate Partner."
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