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Jun 15, 2012
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Nokia retains the power to shock

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By Quentin Webb

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

How many times can Nokia shock the market? A new warning on margins follows a similar upset in April, and another jolt in May 2011. The mobile-phone maker was caught napping by the smartphone revolution. It has now lost about three-quarters of its market value, or roughly 20 billion euros in absolute terms, since turnaround Chief Executive Stephen Elop took the helm in September 2010. At least he is taking action. But success still looks far from guaranteed.

Jun 14, 2012

English soccer deal is doubly worrying

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

By Quentin Webb

LONDON, June 14 (Reuters Breakingviews) – English Premier
League soccer has just broken a 1 billion pound ($1.55 billion)
barrier. That is the annual cost for BSkyB (BSY.L: Quote, Profile, Research), the
satellite broadcaster, and BT (BT.L: Quote, Profile, Research), the telecoms group, to
share domestic rights to three seasons of matches, starting in
2013. In response, nearly a billion pounds promptly vanished
from the duo’s combined market value. For their investors, the
outcome of the auction is doubly worrying.

Jun 13, 2012
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Man Utd’s IPO transfer keeps owners in control

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

Manchester United’s IPO transfer will keep the Glazer family firmly in control. For months, the owners of the English soccer club had sought a $1 billion initial public offering in Singapore. Now the plan has switched to a U.S. listing, reports IFR. New York doesn’t seem like the natural venue for a soccer share sale. But it’s plausible the deal will still fly, and the lop-sided governance in plan A remains.

Jun 6, 2012
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Carlos Slim may drive KPN to poison

By Quentin Webb

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

Carlos Slim may drive KPN to poison. The Dutch telecoms group wants to dodge what it sees as a takeover-on-the-cheap from the world’s richest man. Slim is hoping to nab a near-28 percent stake at eight euros a share. KPN’s response is to wax lyrical about its standalone potential, and drop heavy hints about a possible German tie-up that’s been talked about for a decade. But counterpart Telefonica does not seem ready to trade.

Jun 6, 2012
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Douwe Egberts listing has to create its own buzz

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By Quentin Webb

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

Sara Lee’s coffee spin-off must create its own buzz. Investors need to believe the unit, officially known as “D.E Master Blenders 1753”, will benefit from a sharper focus and strong leadership.

May 23, 2012
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Hot infrastructure auctions drive down returns

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By Quentin Webb

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

The market for infrastructure assets is heating up. Yield-hungry investors are keen on large, predictable businesses in the less rickety bits of Europe. So auctions like E.ON’s sale of its German gas pipes run pretty hot. Even if the bets are less extravagant than during the credit boom, returns will suffer.

May 11, 2012
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Private equity bubble hangover yields HR headache

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By Quentin Webb

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

Private equity’s bubble hangover has brought staffing headaches – and Terra Firma is suffering acutely. Guy Hands, the boss of the British buyout firm, is dipping into his own pocket to fund 20 million pounds of bonuses for employees over the next two years. The largesse is a necessary step to keep staff through an otherwise lean period. But Hands has made life particularly tricky for himself.

Apr 27, 2012
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Pharma saga shows bad lending’s long half-life

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By Quentin Webb

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

Deutsche Bank’s unhappy Actavis saga shows just how long bad lending decisions can reverberate. Finally a $5.6 billion-plus cash takeover by generic drugmaker Watson Pharmaceuticals offers an exit.

Apr 24, 2012
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Spotify’s $4 billion pitch sounds high

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By Quentin Webb

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

Spotify’s pitch to prospective shareholders looks ambitious. The online music-streaming firm boasts rapid growth and a popular friend in Facebook. But it lacks the economics of the best dot-com hits.

Apr 17, 2012
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Int’l Power does well to get better buyout from GDF

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By Quentin Webb

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

International Power’s independent directors have done a decent job in securing a better buyout from GDF Suez. It’s not that easy to extract a big premium when a bidder is already a 70 percent shareholder. But the terms of the original tie-up helped, as did GDF’s evident keenness to take full control of the emerging-markets focused power generator.

    • 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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