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Aug 18, 2011
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Upstart M&A boutiques earn place at fee table

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

Upstart M&A boutiques are eating from Wall Street’s table. Two newish shops –¬†Blair Effron’s Centerview and Frank Quattrone’s Qatalyst — helped Motorola Mobility strike a deal to sell itself to Google¬†for $12.5 billion earlier this week. Along with two other firms opened over the last five years by Ken Moelis and Joseph Perella, this quartet is gnawing at the fee pool of big investment banks.

Aug 5, 2011
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Redstone can delight in only so much Murdochfreude

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

NEW YORK — Sumner Redstone should enjoy watching his arch-rival Rupert Murdoch squirm. There’s no love lost between the 88-year-old chairman of Viacom and CBS and the News Corp boss. Last year, Redstone even presciently ridiculed his 80-year old competitor’s fondness for newspapers. But as Murdoch grapples with the scrutiny brought about by the misdeeds of one of his UK tabloids, Redstone can delight in only so much Murdochfreude. He has plenty of costly governance problems of his own.

Jul 13, 2011
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The Murdoch discount

By Jeffrey Goldfarb and Richard Beales
The authors are Reuters Breakingviews columnists. The opinions expressed are their own.

Rupert Murdoch’s political influence may be surpassed by his impact on the value of News Corp. The stock routinely trades more cheaply than media rivals largely because the company is
run at Murdoch’s whim. A Breakingviews calculator shows how big the Murdoch discount has become as a result of the scandal at the News of the World tabloid.

The phone-hacking affair not only forced News Corp to shutter its most widely read newspaper but also has finally forced the company to withdraw a $14 billion plan to buy the rest of the British pay-TV operator BSkyB. The damage could extend to the company’s American and Australian businesses. U.S. Senator Jay Rockefeller, for instance, has called on Congress to open an investigation that would accompany those under way in Britain.

Jul 11, 2011
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Tech guru may be best hope for News Corp holders

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

NEW YORK –The best hope for News Corp shareholders may be Thomas Perkins. The renowned American venture capitalist is the closest thing to a truly independent director amid the roster of Rupert Murdoch cronies. Perkins also has some relevant experience: he quit the board of Hewlett-Packard five years ago over a phone-hacking scandal. That makes him a prime candidate to lead the charge for a badly needed overhaul of News Corp’s governance.

Jun 29, 2011
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Rid of MySpace, Murdoch should focus on his space

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

Rupert Murdoch’s experience with MySpace should inspire him to focus on his space. Mercifully for shareholders, the octogenarian media mogul’s failed six-year experiment in social networking ended on Wednesday, with his News Corp empire selling the site for about $35 million, a fraction of its original price. The deal serves as a pointed reminder of Murdoch’s many poor uses of capital of late. Big TV is where the company’s resources are best allocated.

Jun 22, 2011
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Setting Hulu free will give it best chance to fly

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

Hulu needs to be free of its hoops. Media titans NBC Universal, Walt Disney and News Corp have given the online TV service a good running start. But their ownership creates conflicts that will retard Hulu’s growth. An analogy can be found in banking, where Visa and MasterCard have flourished since being granted independence. An unsolicited approach for Hulu creates a perfect opportunity to find it a better home.

Jun 20, 2011
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Carlyle IPO may struggle to get “carry” revalued

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

Carlyle will soon join the crowd — but try to stand apart from it. The U.S. private equity firm is gearing up to join rivals Apollo, Blackstone and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts as a publicly listed company. Carlyle’s unique structure could be its best hope of arguing the tough case that investing profits, or carry, should be worth more than investors currently think.

Jun 15, 2011

Pandora IPO pop highlights purity of Internet hype

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

By Jeffrey Goldfarb

NEW YORK (Reuters Breakingviews) – Pandora Media’s initial public offering pop showcases the purity of the latest Internet hype. The online radio firm’s stock surged as much as 50 percent after pricing at double the original expectations. It has much in common with this year’s crop of dot-com darlings, whose shares have tumbled following robust debuts. But Pandora didn’t even need fanciful accounting gimmicks to make its case. This is full-blown froth.

Jun 3, 2011
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Pandora’s huge price tag misses old-school model

Pandora Media is distinctly Web 2.0. Its Music Genome Project tailors Internet radio stations to individual tastes. Pandora is using that DNA to capitalize on investor demand for hot tech plays, with an initial public offering price range that, at the midpoint, values the company at a cool $1.3 billion. But investors should be going in with their eyes, not just their ears, open. Pandora’s business model is pretty old school.

It might look like a rival to Sirius XM — the highly-valued satellite radio monopoly. But Pandora’s primary competition is in the analogue dashboard of terrestrial radio. Pandora generated almost 90 percent of its $138 million of revenue in the year to Jan. 31 from advertising. Sirius coin comes from 20 million paying subscribers.

Jun 2, 2011
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UBS proves it’s hard to keep a bad bank down

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

NEW YORK — It feels like Cary Kochman should maybe turn out the lights in the American investment banking offices of UBS. The global M&A co-head is headed for Citigroup, the latest to join a parade worthy of Macy’s on Thanksgiving. Yet even with the multi-year exodus, the Swiss group has clung to clients. Crushing a big advisory franchise isn’t easy.