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Jul 5, 2011
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News Corp’s weak governance looks chronic

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

By Chris Hughes

The latest allegations in the phone hacking scandal at News Corporation’s tabloid have shocked the British public. But they should also alarm investors in News Corporation. The U.S. media group’s handling of this crisis has been inexcusably weak. If the allegations now being made are true, they strongly reinforce the impression of chronic weakness in the governance of Rupert Murdoch’s empire.

Jun 29, 2011
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LSE pays bearable price for misjudging TMX deal

By Chris Hughes and Antony Currie
The authors are Reuters Breakingviews columnists. The opinions expressed are their own.

LONDON/NEW YORK — The London Stock Exchange has paid a bearable price for misjudging its proposed merger with Canada’s TMX. It was naive to think the C$3.6 billion deal, which collapsed on June 29 amid opposition from TMX’s shareholders, would be plain sailing. The LSE is now damaged and vulnerable. But it doesn’t need a deal and its next transaction — whether as bidder or target — probably won’t happen in a hurry.

Jun 14, 2011
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Glencore’s Q1 feeds the bears

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

LONDON — It’s back to the classroom for Glencore investors. Just when they were getting their head around its moving parts, the commodity trader has shown it can be unpredictable.

Jun 7, 2011
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What beats Oxford and costs less than Harvard?

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

LONDON — What beats Oxford and costs less than Harvard? A group of star UK professors has an answer: their new, 18,000 pounds-a-year ($29,400) arts-only college. It’s like the educational equivalent of setting up a boutique investment bank.

Apr 14, 2011
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Glencore shows how not to launch an IPO

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

LONDON — Glencore’s flotation has become an excruciating case study in how not to organise an initial public offering. The Swiss commodities trader made a serious error by confirming its intention to float without having finalised the appointment of an independent chairman. Hours later, a chairman was found: but in circumstances that are close to comedy.

Mar 29, 2011
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Glencore chair will determine governance discount

Glencore has everything in place for a possible record-breaking London float. Everything, that is, apart from an independent chairman. Leading the commodities trader’s initial public offering should be a prestigious gig. But it also represents a big corporate governance challenge. That gives the candidates some leverage over the terms on which they might accept the chairman’s role. 

To outsiders, privately-held Glencore has the look of a family business used to doing things its own way. Chief executive Ivan Glasenberg and outgoing chairman Willy Strothotte are part of the furniture. The fear is that even the toughest of corporate cookies will struggle to stamp some authority on the board. Add in the fact that Glencore is a complicated business operating in far-flung markets, and the group is in danger of being lumbered with a discount rating. A strong chairman would help reassure prospective shareholders. 

Mar 25, 2011
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Britain looks a safe haven for nuclear power

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

LONDON — The UK is starting to look like a safe haven for nuclear power. Britain’s decision to set a floor price for electricity generated from fossil fuels is not an explicit endorsement of new reactors. But it may help tip the balance for companies contemplating investment in new capacity. It’s not obvious that Japan’s disaster has set back Britain’s nuclear ambitions very far.

Mar 4, 2011
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Glencore story is striking but not yet compelling

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

LONDON — It feels like 2007 again over at Glencore towers in Baar. The Swiss commodities trader says earnings in the fourth quarter were $1.26 billion, just 3 percent below the quarterly average in the boom of four years ago. It looks auspicious for this year’s likely initial public offering. But the impressive financial performance isn’t in itself a guarantee that Glencore can get a float away at the $60 billion equity valuation being mooted in the market.

Feb 3, 2011
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Technology is a two-edged political sword

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

By Chris Hughes

The conventional wisdom that modern revolutions are powered by the Internet and mobile phones faces a challenge. Vodafone and other mobile networks in Egypt have found themselves instruments of the state as much as of the people. Using powers that are surprisingly common in operating licenses, the authorities sent blanket text messages without attribution, possibly creating the impression that the operator was behind them. The messages, for example, urged customers to confront what were referred to as criminals and traitors, according to one website.

Jan 10, 2011
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DuPont’s $6 bln Danisco bid looks safe

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

LONDON — M&A has resumed in 2011 with a textbook deal — DuPont’s $5.8 billion agreed cash offer for Danish enzymes group Danisco. Initially, the market got carried away with the transaction, pushing Danisco stock above the value of the U.S. chemical giant’s 665 crown-a-share offer. But expectations of a counterbid proved short lived.

    • 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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