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Dec 27, 2011
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Where the investment banking jobs may be in 2012

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


This is no time to be a plain vanilla investment banker. Trading commissions are unexciting. Companies aren’t splashing out on big acquisitions. New regulations are taking a bite. So it takes more than a Hermès tie and a PowerPoint prepared by sleep-deprived associates to make a Maserati-sized living.

Dec 23, 2011
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Brazil’s Itaú is the bank to watch next year

By Rob Cox

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

Brazil’s Itaú Unibanco bills itself as the “The Global Latin American Bank.” Thing is, it’s not. Or at least, it’s not yet. That may change in the coming year. Itaú’s solid finances, robust market valuation, searing ambitions and a wealth of opportunities from the misfortunes of global rivals make it the bank to watch in 2012.

Dec 21, 2011
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Delphi slips Tokio Marine a $2.7 bln spiked cocktail

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

Somebody slipped the executives of Tokio Marine Holdings a Mickey Finn on their last trip to Delaware. That’s one explanation for the Japanese insurer’s Godzilla-sized payment for Delphi Financial. Tokio’s $2.7 billion purchase comes at a near 80 percent premium to what normal investors were willing to pay for the U.S. insurer. It looks like another example of Japan Inc throwing shareholders under the bus in the name of international expansion.

It is easy to understand the mentality of Japanese companies, given the challenges of their home market. As the country’s population shrinks by a net one million people a year for the next two decades, expanding abroad must feel like a do-or-die proposition. That’s got to be doubly true for anyone, like Tokio Marine, active in the life insurance business. And with a strong yen to boot, it might even feel like a smart case of market timing.

Dec 20, 2011
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Global bank capital rules add “G-Sifi envy” to mix

By Rob Cox and Peter Thal Larsen

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

The G20’s decision to designate 29 banks as global systemically important financial institutions will introduce a new competitive dynamic to international finance in 2012: “G-Sifi envy.” Banks that made the list last month will be required to hold more capital. But they will also benefit from being codified as banks that are effectively too big to fail. That puts smaller rivals at a disadvantage. It’s a race to the top, but not in the way regulators envisaged.

Dec 16, 2011
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Savvy NRG step may tip scale against utility deal

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

Imagine if Wal-Mart were to buy Target and PepsiCo tried to block the deal. That’s sort of what’s happening, albeit on a far smaller scale, in a corner of the U.S. electricity market. NRG Energy, one of the nation’s largest independent power producers, has filed a petition with regulators that could derail plans by $6.1 billion Northeast Utilities to buy $4.7 billion NSTAR and create the dominant utility in New England.

On Thursday, NRG requested that Connecticut’s Public Utilities Regulatory Authority re-examine its right to intervene in the merger process. Earlier in the year, PURA decided it did not have jurisdiction to do so, leaving final approval to Massachusetts regulators.

Dec 8, 2011
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Latin America gets closer even as Europe cracks

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

Almost two centuries ago, Simon Bolivar briefly united parts of what became more than a half-dozen Latin American nations. With the euro zone in turmoil, the notion of a single Latin American currency that partly reunites pieces of Bolivar’s Gran Colombia seems far-fetched. Yet with private companies from the Texas border to the tip of Patagonia cuddling up in mergers like never before, it can’t be ruled out for ever.

Dec 5, 2011
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New England power merger deserves final nixing

By Rob Cox
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist and Northeast Utilities customer. The opinions expresssed are his own.

It is now official: Northeast Utilities, New England’s biggest electric utility, failed in the duties that accompany its monopoly. With the release of a new report, regulators have all the evidence they need to power down Northeast Utilities’ $4.7 billion takeover of Massachusetts rival NSTAR.

Nov 18, 2011
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Exclusive: Ditching CEO won’t save US utility deal

By Rob Cox
The author is  a Reuters Breakingviews columnist and a Northeast Utilities customer. The opinions expressed are his own.

Northeast Utilities made an offering at the altar of the regulatory gods. The New England utility parted ways with the executive who headed its biggest division, Connecticut Light & Power, over its poor handling of two storms that left millions of customers without power for weeks. Investors seemed to think that will help it gain approval for a $4.7 billion takeover of rival NSTAR. Their optimism looks misplaced.

Nov 17, 2011
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Bankers not entirely political pariahs

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

After the financial crisis, it became conventional wisdom that bankers would be unwelcome in the corridors of power. Never again would a Goldman Sachs chief like Hank Paulson get to determine the fate of global financial affairs, or so went the logic. Yet a series of top nominations worldwide show bankers aren’t as toxic as all that. As distasteful as that may be to some, it makes a degree of sense.

Nov 7, 2011
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When is a merger-of-equals really a takeover?

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

When is a merger-of-equals really a takeover? One easy way to tell is when the top brass get rich and undeserved paydays. There’s probably no better live example than the just-delayed sale of Massachusetts electric utility NSTAR. Its top five executives could feast on as much as $50 million in severance and change-of-control payments despite labeling their deal as one of mutual control for both sets of shareholders. As regulators probe the union more deeply, investors may want to do the same.

    • About Rob

      "Rob Cox helped establish Breakingviews in 2000 in London. From 2004 he spearheaded the firm's expansion in the United States and edited its American edition, including the daily Breakingviews columns in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal. Rob has worked as a financial journalist in London, Milan, New York, Washington, Chicago and Tokyo. Rob graduated from Columbia University’s Journalism School and the University of Vermont. Follow Rob on Twitter @rob1cox"
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