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Feb 15, 2012
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Why the league-table bonanza at Glencore-Xstrata?

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By Quentin Webb

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

How many banks does it take to put together a friendly, all-share merger – and one that’s been on the cards for years anyway? If the companies are Glencore and Xstrata, the punchline is seven – plus a lone banker acting as go-between. And despite the abundance of expensive wisdom informing the negotiations, this mega mining deal clearly needs wider shareholder support.

Feb 13, 2012
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Glencore-Xstrata gatecrashers in short supply

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By Quentin Webb

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

There’s never been a better time to bid for Xstrata. Glencore’s 34 percent stake has always been a stumbling block but now some Xstrata shareholders oppose an all-share merger proposal from the commodity trader. That backlash could build, and both boards would have to consider any credible counter-bids. An auction may not be probable – but it isn’t impossible.

Feb 9, 2012
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Romney tax row may bite European private equity

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By Quentin Webb

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

Mitt Romney’s low-tax private equity payouts caused a storm stateside. European buyout bosses are unlikely to run for high office. But, like the former Bain Capital boss fighting to clinch the Republican presidential nomination, they also cash in on “carried interest” schemes which usually avoid income tax. The system is due a re-think on both sides of the Atlantic.

Feb 7, 2012
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Xstrata holders right to fret over Mick’s rewards

By Quentin Webb

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

Xstrata shareholders are right to fret over Mick Davis’s potential rewards from selling the company to Glencore. The chief executive drives a hard bargain, is a shareholder too, and won’t be the one recommending any merger to outsiders. But there is a potential conflict of interest in that Davis could receive two extra benefits merely for clinching a deal.

Jan 24, 2012
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Endemol tussle shows trials of evicting LBO owners

By Quentin Webb

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

Contestants live under constant threat of eviction on “Big Brother”, Endemol’s flagship television show. Creditors have found turfing out the company’s owners much harder.

After years of wrangling, hedge funds which bought the TV producer’s loans on the cheap are set to take sizeable stakes through a debt restructuring. That makes Endemol a textbook example of what the distressed-debt specialists which are pouring capital and manpower into Europe call a “loan-to-own” deal. But it’s also a case study in how difficult these victories can be.

Jan 23, 2012
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UK fee disclosure shows bankers rule the M&A roost

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By Quentin Webb

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

When it comes to carving up M&A fees, bankers rule. That’s the revelation from new UK rules that force buyers of listed companies to disclose how much they pay their armies of advisers. It’s too early to judge whether the new regime, probably the world’s most transparent, will force down takeover fees. But the initial data provides hard evidence of just how much banks benefit.

Jan 16, 2012
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Tesco exec’s share sale pours salt into open wound

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By Quentin Webb

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

Tesco badly needs to regain investor trust after Thursday’s trading update wiped 5 billion pounds from its market value. Allowing a senior executive to offload shares days earlier may not have broken any rules. But this tin-eared move hardly helps the grocer’s cause.

Jan 12, 2012
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Ferretti’s yachts find fitting berth in China

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

Few companies embody the highs and lows of turbo-charged modern finance better than Ferretti. Once the luxury yachtmaker made a mint for private equity. Now a state-backed Chinese industrial conglomerate is buying it for at most a fifth of its peak value.

Dec 12, 2011
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JPMorgan faces tangle in cable M&A

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

JPMorgan may soon rank among Germany’s top cable-TV broadcasters. The U.S. investment bank committed to be a back-up buyer if regulators stop Liberty Global acquiring number three cable firm, Kabel Baden-Wuerttemberg. But if JPMorgan finds itself on the hook, that won’t automatically be the death knell for these unusual agreements.

Dec 2, 2011
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Loan hangover will cast pall over European buyouts

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

Once again, banks in Europe have been left standing when the music stopped. In an echo of 2008, lenders backing private equity deals have found themselves with a big backlog of unsold loans. That bodes ill for future buyouts.

    • 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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