Jeffrey's Feed
Apr 12, 2011

Arsenal deal exposes unlevel U.S. sports field

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

By Jeffrey Goldfarb

NEW YORK (Reuters Breakingviews) – The transatlantic playing field really is tilted. American billionaire Stan Kroenke is adding Arsenal to a portfolio that already includes U.S. basketball, football and hockey teams. The deal, which values the British soccer club at $1.2 billion, means half the 20-member Premier League will now be in foreign hands. By contrast, only a handful of the 122 major professional North American sports franchises have non-American owners.

Apr 7, 2011
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U.S. bank boards escape post-crisis clear-out

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

Apparently, U.S. banks don’t think their boardrooms were the problem. That’s the obvious interpretation when so little has shifted among them since before the crisis. Many directors clearly lacked the educational or work backgrounds needed to understand the derivatives and other complex products whose risks eventually overtook their institutions. Worse, they forgot or never learned the many lessons of past bubbles and manias. Yet industry knowledge on bank boards is no more extensive today than it was four years ago.

Apr 6, 2011
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SEC needs to pull out stops with Buffett’s deputy

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

The commonsense case against David Sokol looks like a no-brainer — at least by any reasonable lay reading. It doesn’t take a juris doctor to feel that Warren Buffett’s departing deputy, who bought $10 million of Lubrizol shares for himself shortly before Berkshire Hathaway acquired the company for $9 billion, was an insider who traded for personal gain. Yet there seems to be substantial ambiguity in the legal community that there’s a clear-cut case against Sokol.

Mar 30, 2011
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Activist investors embark on fight of their lives

Activist investors generally prefer to be on the attack. So it’s odd to see them on the back foot, fighting to preserve an important arrow in their quiver. The Securities and Exchange Commission is weighing whether to curb uppity shareholders from quietly building stakes in companies. The battle should kick into high gear this week when the merger world’s top lawyers and bankers hold their annual confab in New Orleans.

It comes down to a question of disclosure. As it stands, investors planning to take an aggressive stance with a company must reveal within 10 calendar days when they accumulate a stake of at least 5 percent. In practice, the rule enables funds to buy considerably more than that before they are obliged to report their positions.

Mar 25, 2011

M&A league table folly put on full display

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

By Jeffrey Goldfarb

NEW YORK, March 25 (Reuters Breakingviews) – One of Wall
Street’s favorite spectator sports will produce howls from the
grandstand this quarter. Listen for the collective gasp at the
slump by all-star Goldman Sachs (GS.N: Quote, Profile, Research) from the top spot in the
U.S. merger rankings this time last year to an all-time low of
tenth place. And rounds of applause will resonate at the
dramatic rise of the underdog boutiques, led by Evercore
(EVR.N: Quote, Profile, Research). But take note: appearances are deceptive in this
financial arena.

Mar 16, 2011
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Can Time Warner afford not to buy Netflix?

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

Netflix is looking less like Web TV and more like HBO. The $11.5 billion DVD rental and online video service’s plans to branch out into original content encroaches on the territory staked out by the pioneering Time Warner cable network. Given this turn of events, wouldn’t Time Warner be better off acquiring its emerging rival?

Mar 14, 2011
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NFL quarterbacks don’t do teachers any favors

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

American football’s quarterbacks aren’t doing the nation’s teachers any favors. Public sector unions, like those representing educators, are under fire from state governors and taxpayers. At the same time, professional football players are embroiled in their own peculiar labor battle. There’s not much common ground, but the popularity of the gridiron millionaires creates an odd contrast.

Mar 10, 2011
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NPR needs new funding model

By Jeffrey Goldfarb and James Ledbetter, Breakingviews columnists

Impolitic remarks and political pressure have landed U.S. public radio in trouble. Vivian Schiller, the chief executive of National Public Radio, resigned over comments by an underling. Meanwhile, House Republicans passed a budget eliminating federal cash for the vehicle that helps fund the broadcaster. The government should support the arts, especially relatively inexpensive and popular ones like NPR. All things considered, though, it may be time for a new approach.

The sting video that caught NPR’s chief fundraiser criticizing Tea Party activists would never have led to the ouster of the CEO of a commercial media organization. But NPR is held to an almost unattainable standard of objectivity and must appeal regularly to a coterie of legislators whose animosity toward it is deep. Nevertheless, its audience for news shows including “Morning Edition” is well over 20 million a week, larger than that of any cable TV program and all but a handful of hit network shows.

Mar 1, 2011
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Insider trading scandal rattles trust at the top

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

By Jeffrey Goldfarb

The insider trading scandal that began in the dark underbelly of the hedge fund world just burst through the doors of blue-chip America. The Securities and Exchange Commission accused Rajat Gupta, whose résumé stood out even in a crowd of financial luminaries, of passing along confidential information he gained as a non-executive director at Goldman Sachs.

Feb 28, 2011
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Imagine Berkshire Hathaway as a hedge fund

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

By Jeffrey Goldfarb

Warren Buffett is finding it ever more difficult to beat the market, while recruiting potential successors isn’t getting any easier. It might be heresy to suggest a hedge-fund-like fee structure at the company the 80-year old billionaire runs, Berkshire Hathaway. But it could be the best way to secure future returns.