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Dec 10, 2012
via Breakingviews

How could HP find a $5bln gap in Autonomy’s value?

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By Quentin Webb

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

How could Hewlett-Packard find a $5 billion-plus hole in an $11.1 billion deal? The U.S. tech giant claims to have uncovered all kinds of accounting nasties at Autonomy, the British software outfit it bought last year. But HP won’t say quite how the allegations – strongly denied by Autonomy’s ex-boss Mike Lynch – could produce such a colossal writedown. Breakingviews tries a spot of reverse-engineering to see how it could be possible.

Dec 7, 2012

Bond in driving seat in Aston Martin investment

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

By Quentin Webb

LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) – Aston Martin is getting a welcome boost from a 150 million pound capital injection. The cash from Investindustrial, the buyout shop that turned round Ducati, should lift research and growth at James Bond’s favourite carmaker. But perhaps appropriately, Aston Martin’s bondholders seem the biggest immediate winners.

Nov 30, 2012
via Breakingviews

Review: How a maverick CEO exposed a scandal at Olympus

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By Quentin Webb

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

Society and markets need whistle-blowers. But it’s hard, lonely work. Michael Woodford’s “Exposure” details first-hand how the maverick executive blew the whistle on a $1.7 billion accounting scandal at Olympus, the company he ran. His integrity makes him a welcome outlier in an age of financial scandal.

Nov 23, 2012
via Breakingviews

HP’s accounts bombshell: a guide for the perplexed

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

Hewlett-Packard claims it was duped into hugely overpaying for Autonomy, prompting an $8.8 billion writedown. It blames at least $5 billion directly on dodgy book-keeping. Autonomy founder Mike Lynch says his company played by the rules. But complicated procedures for categorising sales and recognising revenue are critical to the strength of HP’s three central allegations.
Sales mix

Nov 16, 2012
via Breakingviews

Review: Why Polaroid faded away

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

Polaroid reinvented photography, but faded away. Christopher Bonanos’s “Instant: The Story of Polaroid” is a pacey history of the Apple of the analogue age.

Nov 9, 2012

Diageo pays heady price for Indian spirits

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

By Quentin Webb

LONDON, Nov 9 (Reuters Breakingviews) – Diageo (DGE.L: Quote, Profile, Research) is paying a heady price for Indian spirits. The British group, already the world’s biggest maker of top-shelf drinks, is finally taking control of United Spirits, by far India’s largest drinks outfit. Like a shot of unrefined hooch, the $2 billion deal’s financials are harsh to the taste at first. With age, however, the deal may become more appealing.

Nov 7, 2012

Vodafone-Verizon fantasy M&A may stay just that

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

By Quentin Webb

LONDON, Nov 7 (Reuters Breakingviews) – Fantasy M&A over
Verizon Wireless may stay that way. The U.S. mobile phone
giant’s ownership structure, split 55-45 between Verizon
Communications (VZ.N: Quote, Profile, Research) and Britain’s Vodafone (VOD.L: Quote, Profile, Research), means it
is a perennial target of merger speculation. But in fact the
status quo looks pretty secure.

Oct 26, 2012

Random Penguin could fly

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

By Quentin Webb

LONDON, Oct 26 (Reuters Breakingviews) – The Random Penguin
could fly. Consolidation makes sense as publishers adapt to the
digital era. Hence Bertelsmann and Pearson’s (PSON.L: Quote, Profile, Research) talks to
combine their Random House and Penguin imprints.

Oct 16, 2012

Vivendi starts to take a T out of TMT

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

By Quentin Webb

LONDON, Oct 16 (Reuters Breakingviews) – Vivendi (VIV.PA: Quote, Profile, Research) is
taking a “T” out of TMT. The French group was built on the duff
notion that telecoms, media and technology assets benefit from
common ownership – even if this rarely brings meaningful cost
savings or cross-selling opportunities. Now, after ousting Chief
Executive Jean-Bernard Levy, nominal chairman and real boss
Jean-Rene Fourtou seems keen to shed telecoms assets. But a
slimmer Vivendi would still lack coherence.

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.

    • 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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