Jeffrey's Feed
Jan 26, 2011
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Nielsen clover no sure sign of more mega-LBO green

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

Nielsen may be the market leader in gauging consumer behavior but shouldn’t be relied on as a bellwether of investor sentiment. The U.S. TV ratings giant overcame last year’s muted IPO market to pull off the first big successful sale of new stock in 2011. Private equity firms, and their investors, will be delighted with the $1.6 billion deal and hope it is a sign of things to come. But other similar-vintage mega-LBOs are far less appealing.

Jan 21, 2011
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Music mogul life looks decidedly less rock ‘n roll

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

Music moguldom is looking considerably more Susan Boyle than Keith Richards. With Warner Music up for sale again, and vultures circling its British rival EMI, the industry seems suddenly hot again. But the glamorous aspect of discovering and creating rock stars has singed Warner’s public shareholders and buyout baron Guy Hands, who’s hanging onto EMI with his fingernails. This time around, would-be investors need to focus more sharply on the unsexy publishing end of the business.

Dec 27, 2010
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Winter wonderland provides warming reminder

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

NEW YORK — The winter wonderland blanketing the U.S. Northeast provides a welcome and warming reminder about work. The more than two feet of snow that bombarded parts of the region brought out the usual grinches bemoaning the economic consequences. Some companies will be hit hard, of course. But the energizing psychological — and even productivity — benefits for a weary labor force shouldn’t be overlooked.

Dec 21, 2010
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PE investors should swap new cash for lower fees

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

NEW YORK — The buyout industry should slowly emerge from its fundraising drought in 2011. After having more capital returned to them in 2010, investors will be more inclined to put money into private equity. But it’s still a buyer’s market, and the time is ripe for investors to push hard to overhaul the fees they pay.

Dec 20, 2010
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M&A bankers can expect a busy year — like 2005

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

M&A bankers should prepare for a surge. If deal activity follows a similar pattern to previous cycles, 2011 ought to be a considerably better year.

Dec 9, 2010
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Bankers can only hope to be like Howard Stern

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

Bankers can only hope to be like Howard Stern. The bawdy U.S. radio host agreed to stay with satellite broadcaster Sirius XM for another five years. The market initially added more than $300 million to the company’s value after the deal was announced on Thursday morning. Traders and other financial dealmakers like to think their presence has that kind of importance to their firms. After all, they often equate their pay to that of film and sports stars. But the truth is, few of them matter nearly as much.

Nov 18, 2010
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Comcast left standing alone by Cablevision spinoff

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

The courage of Comcast’s conviction will now be on full display. Even the most idiosyncratic American cable television owners, the Dolan family, have decided that separating content from distribution is an idea worth exploring for Cablevision. That makes the decision by Comcast boss Brian Roberts to move in the other direction by acquiring NBC Universal stand out even more. Though it struck a good deal, Comcast will need to execute impeccably to satisfy investors.

Nov 18, 2010
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Rattner case flaunts lawmen’s timing again

Watchdogs may not always have the strongest bite, but give them credit for bark. New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo woofed loudly on Thursday, filing a lawsuit against former White House car czar Steven Rattner just as General Motors returned to the public markets. It’s not the first time lawmen have flaunted an uncanny sense of timing.

Cuomo arranged the ultimate perp walk. He unveiled his private equity kickback allegations against Rattner as he sat on set at CNBC to discuss live on television GM’s IPO, one of the biggest financial stories of the year and an impressive achievement for which Rattner can claim some credit. The Securities and Exchange Commission crashed the party too, filing its related pay-to-play lawsuit and settlement with Rattner.

Nov 12, 2010
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Conan could turn out to be U.S. cable barbarian

Conan O’Brien could turn out to be the barbarian of American cable. In one sense, the late-night talk-show funny-man heralds a bold new era for niche channels by commanding ad rates at his new home commensurate with those at his bigger broadcast brethren. In another more important way, however, O’Brien represents TV’s widening divide and a milepost en route to the culling of an overpopulated boob tube.

O’Brien wasn’t supposed to disturb the television landscape. Instead, as only the fifth custodian of “The Tonight Show” in 66 years, the gangly redhead was in line to maintain the status quo by extending the life of one of the medium’s oldest programs. But when NBC’s plans for Jay Leno to pass the baton went haywire, O’Brien decamped to the fragmented world of cable. TBS, a younger-skewing cable channel owned by Time Warner, splashed out $10 million for him to define its comedy-focused lineup.

Nov 11, 2010
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Can JC Flowers avoid one-hit wonder status?

J. Christopher Flowers could turn out to be the Falco of private equity. For now, the former Goldman Sachs banker can only claim the investment equivalent of the Austrian pop star’s 1980s smash single “Rock Me Amadeus.” Flowers is cutting new deals with a different groove to escape the dreaded one-hit wonder status. But it won’t be easy.

His first big bet, in Japan’s Shinsei Bank, made Flowers a billionaire. But he followed it up with huge, cringe-worthy acquisitions of Hypo Real Estate and HSH Nordbank in Germany and the Dutch NIBC, deals that either have been wiped out or are limping. Even an attempted remix, a return to Shinsei, has struggled. Given that Flowers focuses exclusively on the financial sector, it may surprise some even to learn he’s still dancing. Then again, investors might have expected if anyone should have had a sense of a storm brewing, it was Flowers.