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Feb 17, 2012
via Breakingviews

French banks face tough 2012 after rocky 2011


By George Hay

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

Last year wasn’t much fun for France’s two largest banks. After a relatively benign first half, the euro zone crisis hit BNP Paribas and Société Générale with a vengeance: their shares finished the year down 38 and 58 percent respectively, while the cost of insuring their debt tripled. For good measure, the European Banking Authority forced them to raise capital.

Feb 16, 2012

WaMu deal reverses votes against bankruptcy plan

, Feb 16 (Reuters) – Washington Mutual
Inc reached an agreement on Thursday that gave it the
needed approval of creditors to end its bankruptcy three years
after its namesake bank was seized by regulators.

A group of preferred shareholders agreed to change their
votes and they now support the company’s reorganization plan,
according to Brian Rosen of Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP, which
represents the company.

Feb 14, 2012
via Breakingviews

London real estate coming off steroids


By George Hay

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

London real estate has been on steroids since 2009. But it’s no longer a racing certainty that the capital’s property will deliver an Olympic performance this year.

Feb 9, 2012

El Paso shareholders seek to block vote on merger

WILMINGTON, Del, Feb 9 (Reuters) – El Paso Corp’s
chief executive tainted the company’s proposed $21
billion sale to rival oil pipeline company Kinder Morgan Inc
by not disclosing his personal interest in acquiring
certain El Paso assets, El Paso shareholders argued on Thursday.

They told a Delaware chancery court that these alleged
conflicts of interest, plus those of deal adviser Goldman Sachs
Group Inc, so badly marred the merger that the court
should block a shareholder vote scheduled for next month.

Feb 8, 2012

Nine companies sued over “exclusive forum” bylaws

Feb 7 (Reuters) – Chevron Corp and eight other
corporations were sued by shareholders on Tuesday for adopting a
bylaw that requires common types of shareholder lawsuits be
brought exclusively in Delaware’s Chancery Court.

“Exclusive forum” bylaws are being adopted by more and more
corporations as a way to control a surge in shareholder
litigation, though the move has been resisted by shareholders.

Jan 31, 2012
via Breakingviews

RBS crisis is chance to write lasting pay policy


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

The Royal Bank of Scotland bonus row has become something of a tradition. This time it has become a corporate governance mess with operational, financial, political, and moral dimensions. It has also exposed the terminal weaknesses in the way semi-autonomous public institutions, such as RBS, set executive pay rates.

Jan 28, 2012

In cruise ship disaster, an SOS for lawyers

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Soon after Mitchell Proner, a New York personal-injury lawyer, heard about the capsizing of the Costa Concordia off the coast of Italy, he sprang into action.

Proner, who specializes in motorcycle-accident lawsuits, has never litigated a maritime case. But he has at least one advantage over other U.S. lawyers who might want to sue over the disaster: He speaks Italian. Within days of the accident, he hopped a flight to Italy.

Jan 24, 2012
via Breakingviews

Bonus for RBS boss hangs on two provisos


By George Hay

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

Stephen Hester should get his annual bonus – but only if Royal Bank of Scotland can clearly justify the award. The state-controlled lender, and its chief executive, also need to show they understand the toxic political dimensions: and give any proceeds away to charity.

Jan 24, 2012

Kodak replaces chief restructuring officer

By By Liana Baker and Tom Hals

(Reuters) – Eastman Kodak Co (EKDKQ.PK: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) replaced its chief restructuring officer on Monday in a surprise move coming just days after it filed for bankruptcy protection.

James Mesterharm, who works for the consultancy firm AlixPartners ALIXP.UL and was chief restructuring officer for Parmalat USA during the dairy company’s bankruptcy, will replace Dominic DiNapoli of FTI Consulting Inc (FCN.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), who was chosen last week.

Jan 23, 2012

ING should further carve up Asian insurance sale

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

By George Hay

LONDON, Jan 23 (Reuters Breakingviews) – ING’s (ING.AS: Quote, Profile, Research)
disposal of its insurance arm keeps getting smaller. The Dutch
bancassurer’s 2008 bailout left it needing to offload its entire
insurance business, which it first planned to do via separate
listings of the U.S. and Eurasian parts. Now it plans to hive
off its Asian operations to dispose on their own. To get the
best price, ING should do the splits one more time.

    • About George

      "George Hay coordinates European financial coverage and writes about macroeconomics, the euro zone and UK/European financial policy. He covered European banks for Breakingviews during the financial crisis, and has also worked as a correspondent for AFX News and at United Business Media. He attended Edinburgh University and his work has been recognised at the UK’s Business Journalist of the Year Awards. Follow George on Twitter @gfhay"
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