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Sep 5, 2012
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Murdoch’s reformation stops with governance

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

The reformation of Rupert Murdoch looks to have reached its limit. The 81-year-old media mogul has moved to sensibly deploy capital and break up News Corp as part of a big turnaround since a British phone-hacking scandal rocked his empire. But two new board nominees look like the old Murdoch at work. Investors shouldn’t be so quick to forget the havoc an unconstrained emperor can wreak.
Poor corporate governance contributed to the misconduct at the now-shuttered News of the World tabloid newspaper. Systems and controls across News Corp were exposed to be lacking, ultimately costing the company its desired acquisition of the entirety of its BSkyB satellite business and upending top management around the world. The Murdoch discount deepened, as News Corp shares traded well below the sum of the group’s parts.

Aug 2, 2012
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Man Utd counts on investors behaving like fanatics

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


Manchester United is counting on investors to behave like soccer fanatics. The English club’s committed supporters expect nothing short of greatness, an ethos that carries through to Man Utd’s initial public offering. Though devotees of the Red Devils are rarely disappointed, buyers of the stock at the mooted price probably will be.

Jul 30, 2012
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Vivendi may be out of pocket on EMI by salving EU

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


Things are going from bad to worse at Vivendi. The embattled French company’s Universal Music arm on Friday offered to sell over a quarter of EMI Music’s business to appease European trustbusters scrutinizing the $1.9 billion transaction. That could wind up more expensive than if the EU just blocked the acquisition outright.

Jul 12, 2012
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Fender stock buyers will gently weep

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

Fender’s initial public offering documents read like the 12-bar blues. The iconic maker of guitars favored by the likes of Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix is aiming for a rich valuation. But the company has questionable global expansion plans, is loaded with debt, depends on a big shaky customer and generates only pick-thin margins. There’s just too much to make investors fret.

Jul 11, 2012
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Comcast deal extends content’s precarious reign

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

Content’s reign in TV Land is secure for now but maybe not for long. As media moguls gather for their annual Sun Valley confab, U.S. cable operator Comcast struck a deal to sell its minority stake in A&E Television Networks to its partners for $3 billion. That implies a healthy valuation of over $19 billion, all the more impressive given the fight elsewhere that represents the industry’s future.

Jul 6, 2012
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Review: Financial whodunit clues into bankers

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

To fictionalize the Wall Street events of 2008 satisfyingly requires more than just borrowing from them. The real-life narrative was so spectacular and has been retold so often that engaging even a casual follower of financial news takes more than a little extra imagination. Go figure then that a fact-based chronicler of the times would be the one to accomplish the feat.

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.