Christopher's Feed
Jan 7, 2014
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Hard to find phoenix in ashes of Batista’s empire

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

 

It’s hard to find a phoenix in the ashes of Eike Batista’s empire. There are real assets buried under the tycoon’s collapsed EBX Group. Even so, the onetime flagship energy explorer will emerge with poor growth prospects. Investors have already priced in big things for the port and electricity arms. And too much depends on a resurgent Brazilian economy.

Jan 3, 2014
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U.S. utilities face German-style solar burn

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By Christopher Swann and Robert Cyran
The authors are Reuters Breakingviews columnists. The opinions expressed are their own.

America’s utilities face a German-style solar burn. So far, solar power accounts for just 1 percent of U.S. electricity demand, against 10 percent in Germany. But generators stateside are already feeling the heat and pushing for levies on solar panels. They’re keen to avoid the scorched profit seen at traditional Teutonic utilities like E.ON.

Dec 17, 2013
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McClendon IPO plan is echo of bad old Chesapeake

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

Aubrey McClendon’s new public offering plan is an echo of the bad old Chesapeake Energy. He lost his job as chief executive of the energy firm over excessive spending and conflicts of interest. A new $2 billion venture would allow him to cherry-pick assets ahead of his investors and reward him generously. Despite McClendon’s knack for buying oil and gas properties, investor skepticism is in order.

Nov 21, 2013
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Blackstone’s $6 bln oil deal signals another peak

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

A $6 billion oil deal signals yet another Blackstone apex. The sale of private equity-backed GeoSouthern Energy to Devon Energy comes at a toppy price by one important measure. Blackstone also has an uncanny knack for timing. The glut of undeveloped land owned by oil companies suggests finding buyers will get tougher.

Nov 8, 2013
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Review: Frackers needed long view to make history

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

The revolution in U.S. energy came from an unlikely source, as Gregory Zuckerman recounts in “The Frackers: the Outrageous Inside Story of the New Billionaire Wildcatters.” Tiny drillers like George Mitchell and Harold Hamm persisted with shale while deep-pocketed giants such as Chevron gave up. It was a triumph of leadership over short-term shareholder value.

Oct 31, 2013
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Even bankruptcy can’t subdue Batista’s swagger

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By Christopher Swann

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

Even bankruptcy can’t subdue Eike Batista’s bombast. As his flagship oil company OGX Petroleo e Gas Participacoes sought protection on Wednesday from creditors, the Brazilian tycoon was practically goading them. He just sold gas assets at a knockdown price to an electric utility he partly owns. Bondholders still have a better chance of recovering more money by injecting fresh cash. Pushing them too far, though, could lead to a painful liquidation for all.

Oct 11, 2013
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Review: Inequality is the dark side of leaning in

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By Christopher Swann

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

Inequality is the dark side of leaning in. Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, used “Lean In” as the title of her book about how women should be more assertive. Alison Wolf shows in “The XX Factor” that elite females are already catching up with male peers. Wolf, a professor of public sector management at King’s College London, shows gains at the top have only been possible because of a revival of a distinctly non-elite occupation: the “female servant”. The result is a rising income gap among women.

Sep 30, 2013
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Apollo’s energy IPO gives new life to quick flips

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

Apollo’s latest sale gives new life to the quick flip. Leon Black’s shop is taking EP Energy public less than 18 months after leading a $7.2 billion takeover of the oil and gas company. That contrasts starkly with the trend of longer buyout holding times. The prospect of a twofold return shows that private equity can still dig into its old bag of tricks.

Sep 27, 2013
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Review: U.S. can’t afford to forget the little guy

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

The Occupy Wall Street movement failed to ignite popular indignation about the widening gap between poor and rich in the United States. “Inequality for All”, a documentary based around Robert Reich, President Bill Clinton’s Labor Secretary, makes a strong case for action.

Sep 26, 2013
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Ackman has Air Products catalyst, now for reaction

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

Activist investor Bill Ackman has quickly dislodged Air Products and Chemicals’ underperforming boss, John McGlade. The win brought him a sharp gain of $100 million on his 10 percent holding in the natural gas firm as investors initially reacted to the news. For bigger, more lasting success, however, a painstaking transformation of the company is now needed.

    • About Christopher

      "I am a columnist at Thomson Reuters focusing on the energy industry and hedge funds. Prior to this I worked at Bloomberg and the Financial Times."
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