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Mar 10, 2014
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Rival’s split makes it harder for Dow to resist

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

Andrew Liveris may find it harder to keep Dow Chemical together now that a smaller rival is planning to break up. The Dow boss has resisted activist hedge fund manager Dan Loeb’s campaign to split the $60 billion company into separate petro- and specialty chemicals groups. Competitor FMC’s decision to hive off its agriculture and pharma businesses from stodgier commodity minerals should create a more valuable company. The voluntary split makes it harder for Liveris to argue why he’s resisting activist pressure to do the same.

Mar 4, 2014
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Tobacco deal may work if survives regulatory fire

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

Tobacco giant Reynolds American may be mulling a bid for smaller rival Lorillard, apparently to investors’ pleasure.  Shares of the possible target, which specializes in trendy menthol cigarettes, leaped more than 9 percent after the Financial Times indicated that Lorillard might attract a more than $20 billion offer.

Mar 4, 2014
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Tobacco deal may work if survives regulatory fire

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

Tobacco giant Reynolds American may be mulling a bid for smaller rival Lorillard, apparently to investors’ pleasure.  Shares of the possible target, which specializes in trendy menthol cigarettes, leaped more than 9 percent after the Financial Times indicated that Lorillard might attract a more than $20 billion offer.

Feb 7, 2014
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Coke and David Einhorn sing in perfect disharmony

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

Betraying its renowned jingle, Coca-Cola is singing in perfect disharmony with David Einhorn. To feel good dropping $1.3 billion for a minority stake in Green Mountain Coffee, the beverage giant must have answered some nagging questions posed by the hedge fund manager a few years ago. Investors seem to reckon Coke did its due diligence. Procter & Gamble and Hewlett-Packard have shown just how much it can matter.

Jan 21, 2014
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Dan Loeb puts the right accelerant in Dow Chemical

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

Dan Loeb is putting the right accelerant into Dow Chemical. The $52 billion U.S. chemistry giant’s shares jumped more than 7 percent at one point on Jan. 21 after the activist investor called for a split of its petrochemicals and specialty chemicals businesses. Loeb may be overly optimistic about the financial benefits, but a rough sum-of-the-parts suggests merely breaking Dow up could boost its value by a fifth.

Jan 3, 2014
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Commodities set to distinguish themselves

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

Commodity prices look set to distinguish themselves in 2014. From gold to grain, raw materials will trade less in line not only with equities, but with each other – and are likely to fall, to boot. Thank a calm euro zone and the prospect of the U.S. Federal Reserve cutting back its bond purchases.

Dec 31, 2013
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Merck woes show animal drugs are no panacea

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By Kevin Allison

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

Animal medicine, whether for livestock or pets, is a booming business. Pfizer’s recent spin-off, Zoetis, trades at a fat valuation premium to traditional drug makers. But the recent controversy over Zilmax, Merck’s feed additive, shows that an increasingly complicated global food chain carries its own investment risks.

Dec 27, 2013
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Oil’s new age of plenty challenges old assumptions

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By Kevin Allison

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

The energy business may enter a tumultuous period in 2014, even if sanctions on Iranian oil exports remain in place. The combination of increased shale drilling, cheaper solar power and higher investments in energy efficiency has the potential to create a glut of oil from countries outside the OPEC producers’ cartel at current prices. A sharp drop in the oil price is possible, and more volatility in oil prices, energy investments and geopolitics is almost inevitable.

Dec 3, 2013
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Detroit case revs up bankruptcy option for others

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

It’s the start of a new era for Detroit – and perhaps other American metropolises in wobbly financial condition. A federal bankruptcy judge ruled on Tuesday that Motown, suffocating under about $18.5 billion in debt, was eligible to file for protection from creditors. If the decision withstands appeal, it would confirm bankruptcy as a credible option for even the biggest U.S. cities. It could also give other municipalities the needed kick to get their houses in order.

Nov 1, 2013
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Review: Dissecting America’s manufacturing retreat

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By Kevin Allison

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

Those who believe that making physical things is a superior vocation will find themselves nodding through much of Vaclav Smil’s “Made in the USA”. Smil, a prolific Canadian academic, challenges the widespread view that in mature economies a shrinking factory footprint is inevitable – or even desirable. He blames short-termism and bad policy choices, not just changing economic tides, for the retreat of U.S. manufacturing. The book’s call for smarter industrial policy is appealing, but Smil comes too close to advocating protectionism.