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Jun 26, 2012
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Murdoch all but erases discount he inflicted

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


Rupert Murdoch has all but erased the discount he inflicted on his media conglomerate. When scandal struck News Corp last year, a Breakingviews calculator found the company trading around 30 percent below the sum of its parts. The possibility of splitting the company in two, confirmed on Tuesday, may complete an improbable run to close the gap.

Jun 26, 2012
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Sandberg does neither herself nor women any favors

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

It was an important milestone for Facebook’s timeline on Monday. The newly public $69 billion company made Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg the first female director. But joining a rubber-stamp board that Facebook’s chief executive treats haughtily won’t much enhance Sandberg’s already sterling reputation. Leading women executives like Sandberg would be better off pushing for representation where they can make a real difference.

Jun 25, 2012
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Blaming London for bank botches is too convenient

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

Say what you will about JPMorgan’s stupid trades, the bank has at least owned up to its failings. That’s more than can be said for some U.S. authorities, who are exploiting the fiasco to point fingers at their UK counterparts. This convenient distraction is really an effort to grab international power. The best hope is it revives dragging global efforts to coordinate the rules.

May 30, 2012
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Private equity may owe Obama a debt of gratitude

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

Private equity firms say they find their best opportunities in the worst of times. This year’s U.S. presidential race gives them a chance to translate that idea to reputational management. Mitt Romney has weakly rebutted the president’s attacks on his Bain Capital tenure. Those who see the good side of leveraged buyouts are gradually speaking up. But the buyout barons themselves need to seize the moment.

May 15, 2012
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Facebook winning Keynesian beauty contest

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

Give Facebook the tiara. The social network may be worth more than $100 billion on its debut. As a result, the art of valuing Facebook has officially entered what economist John Maynard Keynes called the “beauty contest” realm. In justifying such a lofty number, Facebook’s supporters are resorting to increasingly wacky rationalizations, from the old chestnut monetization of eyeballs to comparing the company to credit scorers. But Facebook’s value, like beauty, is merely in the eyes of the beholder.

May 10, 2012
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Boardroom botches call for checklist fix

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By Jeffrey Goldfarb

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

If checklists can save lives, surely they can help shareholders. The scandals at Yahoo, Green Mountain Coffee, Chesapeake Energy and other U.S. companies suggest boards of directors could do with some simple reminders to prevent them from making stupid mistakes. Breakingviews has drawn up a starter set.

Apr 30, 2012
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Sirius XM could yet reclaim the soul it sold

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

Sirius XM sold its soul and could pay a hefty price to retrieve it. When the U.S. satellite radio service stared down bankruptcy in 2009, it beat a rescue path to John Malone’s door at Liberty Media. For a financial lifeline, Sirius pledged a 40 percent stake and power over most big decisions to the wily cable magnate. But now he has come to collect.

Apr 18, 2012
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Buffett at least learned one thing from Steve Jobs

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

Warren Buffett seems to have learned something from a fellow corporate titan. The 81-year-old investing icon disclosed on Tuesday he was diagnosed with early-stage prostate cancer last week and pledged to keep shareholders updated about his health. The candor is a refreshing contrast to the way in which Steve Jobs guarded details of the illness that eventually killed him. Unfortunately, Buffett is shrouding his succession plan in the same sort of mystery the Apple boss did.

Apr 16, 2012
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Brazilian billionaire banker tests investor mettle

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

Andre Esteves is testing just how badly investors want a piece of his hot, Brazilian investment bank. The billionaire boss of BTG Pactual showed no signs of retreating from an initial public offering in the coming weeks despite a 350,000-euro fine against him by Italy’s financial watchdog for insider trading. The risks are looking big for this high-flyer.

Pactual’s allure owes much to Esteves’ dealmaking reputation. He sold his boutique to UBS at the top of the market and then bought it back a couple of years later in 2009 for a knockdown price when the Swiss bank ran into trouble. Since then, Esteves has attracted funds from a who’s who of global investors, including the Rothschild and Agnelli families, while retaining almost a quarter of the bank for himself. In the past three years Pactual’s value has increased six-fold to some $15 billion.

Apr 12, 2012
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Oaktree IPO gets marked to Howard Marks

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 By Jeffrey Goldfarb

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

Oaktree Capital’s initial public offering was marked to Howard Marks. In the run-up to Wednesday night’s share sale, the outspoken co-founder of the debt-focused private equity firm made clear that accumulating assets would never be his top priority. Public investors, who have been conditioned to prize management fees from investment firms like Oaktree that have gone public, took the message to heart.