Quentin's Feed
Sep 23, 2014
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Giant fertiliser combo looks tough to cultivate

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By Quentin Webb

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

A possible $27 billion tie-up between two fertiliser giants could prove hard to cultivate. Norway’s Yara International and Chicago-based CF Industries are talking about merging to create by far the world’s biggest ammonia producer. The two companies boast similar valuations and, together, could harvest significant cost savings. But they say they’re contemplating a merger of equals, and that’s not a deal variety that flourishes easily.

Sep 18, 2014
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Bayer’s plastic float sows seeds for one more sale

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By Quentin Webb

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

Bayer’s plastic float could sow the seeds for another sale. Investors added more than $5 billion to the German blue-chip’s $114 billion market capitalisation on Sept. 18, after it unveiled plans to float MaterialScience, its capital-intensive plastics and polymers business. Once again, investors are rewarding a company for adopting a sharper focus. A logical follow-up for Bayer Chief Executive Marijn Dekkers would be to quit agrochemicals and create a pure healthcare business.

Sep 12, 2014
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Club Med auction returns to work refreshed

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By Quentin Webb

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

Club Mediterranee shareholders have been vindicated for refusing to throw in the towel. Last year, litigious investors held up a low-ball management buyout offer for the faded French holiday group. They were eventually rewarded with a counterbid from Italian financier Andrea Bonomi. Now the MBO team, again working with China’s Fosun, are back, trumping Bonomi with a $1.1 billion proposal.

Aug 13, 2014
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A French revolution could disrupt U.S. mobile

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By Quentin Webb

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

U.S. mobile is at risk of a French revolution. On July 31, Xavier Niel’s Iliad emerged as a surprise bidder for 56.6 percent of T-Mobile US, the Deutsche Telekom-backed operator. The billionaire is little-known in America, and Deutsche rejected his $15 billion opening gambit. But Iliad is roughly to French telecoms what Ryanair has been to European air travel, or Aldi to retail. If it wins T-Mobile US, market share and margins at AT&T and Verizon could face the guillotine.

Aug 1, 2014
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French T-Mo bid looks like peak TMT Entrepreneur

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Quentin Webb

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

TMT-men are the superheroes of finance today. A market boom has let telecoms, media and technology dealmakers such as John Malone of Liberty Global and Masayoshi Son of SoftBank finance ever-bigger dreams. Xavier Niel, the billionaire behind French telecoms group Iliad, is now bidding $15 billion in cash for 56.6 percent of T-Mobile US, listed but two-thirds owned by Deutsche Telekom. Maybe this idea should have stayed in the lab.

Jul 25, 2014
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Sky Europe transforms BSkyB investment case

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By Quentin Webb

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

“British” Sky Broadcasting is no more. The group is buying sister Sky units in Germany and Italy for at least 4.9 billion pounds ($8.3 billion) in cash from Rupert Murdoch’s Twenty-First Century Fox. That transforms the investment case for the UK’s top pay-television group.

Jul 24, 2014
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Murdoch calls on European outposts for Time Warner

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By Quentin Webb

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

Rupert Murdoch is calling on European outposts to help in his pursuit of Time Warner. The media mogul’s Twenty-First Century Fox is poised to sell its Sky pay-TV arms in Italy and Germany to Fox’s UK affiliate British Sky Broadcasting. There’s strategic logic to the asset shuffle and the proceeds could help sweeten his $80 billion bid for the owner of CNN and Warner Bros. How Murdoch treats non-Murdoch owners is the linchpin.

Jul 14, 2014
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Life’s like a box of chocolates for Lindt owners

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By Quentin Webb

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

For Lindt shareholders, life is like a box of chocolates. They didn’t know they were going to get Russell Stover, the Midwest outfit whose gift box starred in Forrest Gump. They still don’t know what Lindt paid for the third-biggest U.S. candymaker. Or what it will get in terms of profitability.

Jun 20, 2014
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GE scores a Pyrrhic victory in France

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By Quentin Webb

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

There’s a paradox in General Electric’s French triumph. The U.S. conglomerate is finally getting Alstom’s energy businesses, having seen off German nemesis Siemens and reached an accommodation with a hostile French government. Yet some other players won clearer victories.

Jun 19, 2014
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Paris forces GE into over-engineered Alstom bid

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By Quentin Webb

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

Paris has forced GE into an over-engineered bid for Alstom’s power businesses. The U.S. giant’s third tilt at its French counterpart overlays a series of tie-ups on the previously simple 11.4 billion euros ($15.6 bln) cash deal. The aim is to satisfy France’s taste for alliances and protective concern for an industrial champion. It all looks less shareholder-friendly – but also less prone to an Elysee Palace veto. That keeps GE ahead of rival bidders Siemens and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.

    • About Quentin

      "Quentin Webb is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist, covering mergers and acquisitions, corporate finance and private equity. He is based in London. Before becoming a columnist, he was a news reporter for Reuters, where he was most recently European M&A correspondent. He has also worked as a correspondent in Brussels and as a credit-markets reporter. He joined Reuters in 2003 from Legalease, a legal publisher. He has a first-class degree in psychology from University College London."
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