Quentin's Feed
Jul 26, 2012

Telefonica payouts may go on hold for longer

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

By Quentin Webb

LONDON, July 26 (Reuters Breakingviews) – Telefonica
(TEF.MC: Quote, Profile, Research) may need to put dividends on hold for longer. With
Spain’s financial crisis worsening, the telecoms operator has
sensibly scrapped the payout for 2012. The move is belated
recognition that two previous dividend cuts were too timid, and
means the group could now cope with being shut out of bond
markets for all of this and next year. But a pledge to reinstate
payouts for 2013 could prove too optimistic.

Jul 24, 2012

Man Group’s new resolve is welcome

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

By Quentin Webb

LONDON, July 24 (Reuters Breakingviews) – Man Group (EMG.L: Quote, Profile, Research)
is showing welcome resolve. The UK hedge-fund manager has
already suffered as volatile markets dented risk appetite and
wrong-footed its flagship AHL trend-following fund. With managed
assets falling 10 percent in the first half to $52.7 billion,
Man is preparing for more difficulty ahead. Shareholders have
fared awfully – the stock has plummeted roughly 75 percent since
the start of 2011. They should applaud the new determination.
But the outlook remains murky.

Jul 5, 2012

Funding ties to Spain hurt Telefonica

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

By Quentin Webb

LONDON, July 5 (Reuters Breakingviews) – Telefonica (TEF.MC: Quote, Profile, Research)
may need to do more to counter its financial ties to Spain. The
phone company’s credit ratings and funding costs are suffering
as the country totters, even though three-quarters of sales are
abroad.

Jun 28, 2012
via Breakingviews

Glenstrata wobble another blow for M&A bankers

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By Quentin Webb

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

The collapse of Glencore-Xstrata would be a $130 million blow to mergers and acquisitions bankers. Nine banks would lose most of that fee pool, and league-table standing too, if investor pressure nixes the $26 billion Xstrata buyout. Even in a merger boom, that would hurt. But it’s particularly painful in a thin year for deal-making.

Jun 27, 2012
via Breakingviews

Split wouldn’t fix all News Corp’s shortcomings

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By Quentin Webb

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

Spinning off News Corp’s scandal-hit publishing arm won’t solve all Rupert Murdoch’s problems. The media mogul is preparing to drop his long-held resistance to a break-up, according to a report in his own Wall Street Journal. Outside investors will approve on strategic and financial grounds. But with the Murdoch family retaining a firm grip on both parts, governance remains troublesome. That will make it hard to insulate News Corp’s broadcasting and movie operations from Britain’s phone-hacking furore.

Jun 20, 2012

London bankers get swift kick from Boots deal

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

By Quentin Webb

LONDON, June 20 (Reuters Breakingviews) – British pharmacy
chain Alliance Boots [ABN.UL] has been a bitter pill for London
bankers to swallow. KKR’s (KKR.N: Quote, Profile, Research) 12 billion pound leveraged
buyout in 2007, then worth about $24 billion, turned nasty for
big lenders who backed the deal. Adding insult to injury, none
were hired to advise KKR or Boots on Tuesday’s $6.7 billion
stake sale to U.S. peer Walgreen (WAG.N: Quote, Profile, Research). The timing couldn’t be
worse.

Jun 18, 2012

Everything Everywhere LBO: someday, somehow?

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

By Quentin Webb

LONDON, June 18 (Reuters Breakingviews) – It sounds more
2007 than 2012. But even if markets aren’t quite ready for an 8
billion pound ($12.5 billion) buyout of Everything Everywhere,
it could make sense someday, somehow. Britain’s biggest mobile
operator would be a rare investment opportunity, and the sector
is beloved by both private equity firms and debt investors.

Jun 15, 2012
via Breakingviews

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
via Breakingviews

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.

    • 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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