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Mar 20, 2014
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JPMorgan commodities sale shows trading’s opacity

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By Kevin Allison and Antony Currie

The authors are Reuters Breakingviews columnists. The opinions expressed are their own.

JPMorgan’s $3.5 billion sale of its physical commodities business is a perfect example of just how opaque trading is. The bank is selling what is probably a low-return business with regulatory headaches to Mercuria, a privately held firm that does not have to make its financials public. The dearth of details does make it hard to judge, but applying some statistics from both the industry and some rivals suggests Mercuria may be paying top whack.

Mar 11, 2014
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Detroit turns bankruptcy precedents upside down

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

Bondholders in Detroit’s $18 billion bankruptcy must feel like they’re in a mirror universe. A restructuring plan filed by the city’s emergency manager would effectively turn bankruptcy precedents upside down by paying equity holders – in this case, ordinary Detroiters – at the expense of secured creditors. Such a shareholder-friendly approach might save the city and anoint Judge Steven Rhodes a hometown hero. But it may yet come at a market price.

Mar 11, 2014
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Detroit turns bankruptcy precedents upside down

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

Bondholders in Detroit’s $18 billion bankruptcy must feel like they’re in a mirror universe. A restructuring plan filed by the city’s emergency manager would effectively turn bankruptcy precedents upside down by paying equity holders – in this case, ordinary Detroiters – at the expense of secured creditors. Such a shareholder-friendly approach might save the city and anoint Judge Steven Rhodes a hometown hero. But it may yet come at a market price.

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 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.