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Apr 19, 2013
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Is Microsoft the quiet villain of global finance?

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By Richard Beales

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

Microsoft may be the quiet villain of global finance. Excel errors overstated pre-crisis structured finance ratings, dented JPMorgan’s risk management just as banks were on the mend, and tripped up influential fiscal policy ideas. The rest of the Office suite of “productivity” applications – the bulk of a division responsible for $24 billion in revenue in the last fiscal year – seems equally apt to court trouble.

Apr 9, 2013
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J.C. Penney exposes inefficiency valuing CEOs

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By Richard Beales

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

The debacle at J.C. Penney exposes a glaring inefficiency in how the market values corporate chieftains. When the struggling U.S. retailer hired Apple whiz Ron Johnson in 2012, the company’s equity value spiked by more than $1 billion. On Monday evening, news of his departure added $350 million. The return of ex-Chief Executive Mike Ullman – the man Johnson replaced – swiftly erased some $700 million. Such big swings make no sense.

Apr 1, 2013
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Apple’s Chinese apology worth the loss of face

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

Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook is starting to make a habit of apologies. The latest, in China, is worth the loss of face. Social media traffic suggests today’s worldly Chinese iPhone, iPad and Mac computer buyers won’t be swayed by what seems to be state-orchestrated media criticism. But the tech giant’s admission of arrogance is a cheap salve to a mass of future buyers of the company’s products.

Apr 1, 2013

Breakingviews-Dell blow-by-blow makes rival bidders’ jobs harder

(The authors are Reuters Breakingviews columnists. The opinions
expressed are their own.)

By Robert Cyran and Richard Beales

NEW YORK, April 1 (Reuters Breakingviews) – A bidding war
for Dell (DELL.O: Quote, Profile, Research) just became even less likely. The computer
company on Friday laid out, in a novel-length filing, its
reasoning for agreeing to a $24.4 billion buyout by founder
Michael Dell and private equity firm Silver Lake Partners. It’s
only the company’s version, but Dell seemingly did what it could
to secure the best offer available.

Mar 15, 2013
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Maybe SAC should forget about other people’s money

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

Maybe SAC Capital should forget about managing other people’s money. Steve Cohen’s $15 billion hedge fund firm is paying a whopping $616 million to settle Securities and Exchange Commission insider trading charges. It would be an ignominious time to follow legends like Stanley Druckenmiller, but Cohen is already losing over a quarter of some $6 billion of outside investor funds this year. It could be time to focus mainly on looking after his own cash.

Mar 13, 2013
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Private equity at 4-and-20? Think twice

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

Private equity with a 4-and-20 fee structure doesn’t sound too inviting. It’s what a new vehicle will charge people with only $50,000 to invest to gain entry to Carlyle Group’s private equity funds, and it’s far more than what institutions pay. While the firm’s long-term internal rates of return on private equity, after fees, are nearly 20 percent, today’s reality holds less appeal. The arrangement could be risky for Carlyle, too.

Mar 7, 2013
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Where did Apple’s missing market value go?

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

Mr Market has slashed Apple’s market value by $260 billion in six months. Meanwhile, the combined worth of a wide group of smartphone and tablet rivals has added less than half that. If investors think Apple is fading, the competing Android complex could be worth far more – to someone.

Feb 25, 2013
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Apple’s halo loses shine in investor fight

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By Richard Beales

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

No one looks too good in Apple’s fight with David Einhorn. The Greenlight Capital founder scored a legal point, but better governance wasn’t his main objective. Apple comes off amateurish. The California Public Employees’ Retirement System, despite worthy shareholder-friendly aims, seems careless. The Securities and Exchange Commission also missed a trick.

Feb 7, 2013
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Apple and Einhorn could both use cleaner design

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

Apple and David Einhorn could both use some of the iPhone maker’s famed simplicity. The $430 billion technology company has combined three governance fixes better considered separately. Also a bit unwieldy is an idea from the boss of hedge fund firm Greenlight Capital to unlock value at Apple. A sleeker approach makes more sense.

Feb 5, 2013

Warning: it’s not just the hacks being hacked

By Richard Beales

NEW YORK, Feb 5 (Reuters Breakingviews) – The hacks have
been hacked. The New York Times (NYT.N: Quote, Profile, Research), the Wall Street Journal
and other media outlets have revealed network intrusions –
seemingly from China. They think the hacking is related to their
investigations of the Beijing regime. But news paranoia is only
a small part of a big story.

Defenses are necessary because electronic spying is
everywhere. The United States government does it for
geopolitical reasons and there’s plenty of evidence pointing to
industrial espionage by entities linked to the Chinese
government. Other governments, unscrupulous rivals and criminals
all see electronic opportunities.

    • About Richard

      "Richard Beales joined Breakingviews.com in 2007 from the Financial Times, where he was US markets editor and a Lex columnist. Prior to the FT, he spent more than 10 years as an investment banker, based largely in Hong Kong. He was a director in Citigroup’s mergers team, and before that head of Schroders’ regional project finance group. He has also lived briefly in Sydney, Australia, and began his working life in London at Mars & Co, a management consultancy, in 1989. Richard holds a masters in business journalism from New York University and a degree in biochemistry from St John’s ..."
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