George's Feed
Aug 14, 2014
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Holiday email embargo a must-have, not an opt-in

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By George Hay

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

Daimler wants to stop email ruining the holidays of its 275,000 employees. So the German carmaker is giving them the right to have all messages received during vacation automatically re-routed, with the sender warned to try again later. In this case, choice may not be the best policy.

Aug 1, 2014

Underwriters share blame in Portuguese bank fiasco

By George Hay and Dominic Elliott

LONDON, Aug 1 (Reuters Breakingviews) – Banco Espirito
Santo’s shares have tanked 70 pct since a rights issue barely
two months ago. UBS and Morgan Stanley, which led the 1 bln euro
equity raise, hoisted red flags. The banks could have heeded
their own findings and refused the job. Customers have a right
to be angry.

A full view will be published shortly.

CONTEXT NEWS

- Banco Espirito Santo on July 30 reported a loss of 3.6
billion euros and said it would need to raise fresh capital. The
Bank of Portugal said senior BES officials had been suspended
over suspected “harmful management” that may have contributed to
the bank’s losses.

Jul 31, 2014
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Shock loss at BES makes bail-in a real risk

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By George Hay

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

A solution to the Banco Espirito Santo debacle looks increasingly likely to involve creditors. The troubled Portuguese lender revealed a much bigger-than-expected 3.6 billion euro loss on July 30 and warned of possible past law-breaking. If the kitchen-sinking was intended to help fill BES’s capital deficit with private investment, it may not work.

Jul 24, 2014
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StanChart at risk of “doing an HSBC” – badly

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By George Hay

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

Standard Chartered STAN.L is doing a passable impression of HSBC circa 2010. The UK-based emerging markets bank has told investors that it does not accept “media rumours” concerning the future of Chairman John Peace and Chief Executive Peter Sands. The parallels with HSBC’s succession planning four years ago – a crisis that culminated in the dual departures of chairman and CEO amid a boardroom power struggle – are worrying.

Jul 17, 2014
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London real estate at an inflection point

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By George Hay

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

Most real estate valuers in London think property prices in the UK capital are about to fall. That prediction has been easy to make and easier to get wrong in the last five years. This time, the evidence that global investors’ favourite housing market has peaked is looking credible.

Jun 25, 2014
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English soccer protectionism would be an own goal

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By George Hay

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

England’s footballers can get better – but not by embracing protectionism. The national team’s failure to progress beyond the group stages of the 2014 World Cup should not have come as a surprise to English soccer’s ruling body, the Football Association: only last month, its chairman published a report advocating radical change. But the FA’s suggested solution could make things worse.

Jun 2, 2014
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Bank of Cyprus is bank of choice for EU über-bulls

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By George Hay

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

2014 has been a good year so far for incurable euro zone optimists. Even though the euro zone crisis is fresh in the memory, and deflation remains a risk, Greece’s five-year bond yields are below 5 percent. Greek banks have easily attracted foreign capital, helped by global funds flowing back into Europe after the U.S. Federal Reserve started its “tapering” policy. Still, foreign investment into Bank of Cyprus would represent a new bullish peak.

May 29, 2014
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The morning after Scotland votes for independence

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By George Hay

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

Friday Sept. 19, 8.00 a.m. Staff at Royal Bank of Scotland’s Princes Street branch in central Edinburgh arrive for work, a tad bleary eyed. Some only had a few hours of sleep after partying until the wee hours, celebrating Scots’ historic vote to secede from the United Kingdom the previous day. Barely any whisky remains in the city’s bars; but RBS employees are about to discover something even worse. With customers starting to withdraw their deposits, barely any money may soon remain in Scottish banks.

May 6, 2014
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Barclays shows why it needs to do a UBS

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By George Hay

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

Barclays has shown why it needs to “do a UBS”. Both the UK bank and its Swiss peer had a rotten time in their fixed-income trading operations in the first quarter, numbers released on May 6 show. The difference is that Barclays is only just understanding a problem that UBS attacked 18 months ago.

Apr 14, 2014
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How China is stoking London’s housing bubble

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By George Hay

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

It takes a long trip on the London underground to get to the Aura housing development. From Waterloo Station, 42 minutes tick by until you pull into Edgware, the stop nearest to the half-completed apartment blocks being built on land formerly occupied by a now-bankrupt football club. Attempt the journey at the weekend, when large swathes of the tube are typically shut, and you must make a detour to nearby Canon’s Park station. From there, you face a 15-minute trek taking in a boarded-up pub, a Lidl supermarket and a municipal office block with smashed ground-floor windows. In every sense, you are a long way from what estate agents like to call “prime central London.”

    • About George

      "George Hay writes about the banking and property sectors. He joined from Thomson Financial News, where he was a companies correspondent. Before that he worked at United Business Media, where he was news editor of Building Magazine. He has a first in English Literature from Edinburgh University, and was nominated in two categories at the 2009 Business Journalist of the Year Awards."
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