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Feb 1, 2011
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Vikram Pandit can’t rock’n'roll like Guy Hands

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

Vikram Pandit has been banging his head for years over Citigroup’s financial problems. But that doesn’t qualify him as an expert on heavy metal. So expect the bank to quickly offload EMI, the Iron Maiden-to-Katy Perry music publishing and recording business it seized on Tuesday.

Jan 10, 2011
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Playboy, like Hef’s sex life, better off private

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

NEW YORK — Some things, like Playboy founder Hugh Hefner’s sex life, are best kept behind closed doors. So it is with the massive restructuring of the media business built on Hef’s nudie magazine. Playboy may be iconic — but its future is bleak. So while the newly engaged octogenarian is still having his way with shareholders in his latest low-ball bid, they might as well take his money.

Jan 6, 2011
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Goldman Facebook coup embarrasses rest of Wall St

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

Goldman Sachs’ rivals must be kicking themselves. The firm’s near $2 billion investment hook-up with Facebook is relatively small beans financially, but it’s a big win in franchise terms. After the lumps Goldman took last year, the deal shows the firm can still lead the way wrapping its tentacles around a key client for mutual benefit.

Dec 28, 2010
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Will 2011 be the year that Facebook’s value gets real?

By Robert Cyran and Rob Cox

Facebook may at last become a real, rather than virtual, money spinner in 2011. The social network doesn’t need capital to grow, but expectations from backers and employees for an IPO are too high for founder Mark Zuckerberg to ignore. There’s just one challenge: trading in Facebook’s unlisted shares values the website at more than $40 billion. Getting to that number requires some astonishing growth assumptions.

That’s not to say it’s impossible for Facebook to attain a public market value at least as big as its current implied worth. Facebook is both valuable and becoming more so. It has more than 500 million users and it’s adding thousands by the minute. But rarely has a private company attracted such a large — and relatively liquid — financial status as Facebook.

Dec 22, 2010
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Endangered financial species: U.S. community banks

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

NEW YORK — It’s the time of year when families gather to watch Jimmy Stewart play George Bailey, the small-town banker who with a little angelic intervention extends credit to his neighbors in “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Yet though Bailey remains emblematic of a benign banking system, most Americans probably don’t realize he’s the most endangered species in finance.

Dec 17, 2010
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Buyout bigwigs get one-upped by community banker

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

It’s not every day that the barons of the buyout industry find themselves on the shorter end of a sweet deal. But that’s arguably the case in the turnaround of BankUnited, a relatively small Florida bank that’s about to return to the public markets. John Kanas, the seasoned Long Island banker who led the deal and runs the bank, is poised to skim off nearly $100 million of the profits his private equity partners will make.

Dec 14, 2010
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Goldman has chance to top off Wall St governance

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

Wall Street rivals usually follow where Goldman Sachs leads. It is unlikely to be any different when the findings of Goldman’s Business Standards Committee become public early next year. But on one important point Goldman lags some big competitors — the separation of the chief executive and chairman jobs. Now it has a chance to catch up.

Dec 13, 2010
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Energy bankers may be 2011′s hottest commodity

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

NEW YORK — Bankers in the oil and gas business know a thing or two about the laws of supply and demand. But they’re not accustomed to being the commodity in question. Some of the world’s cities may be overrun with financial types, but with energy sector activity rising they’re scarce in swampy, sprawling Houston. Bankers there may benefit accordingly in 2011.

Dec 3, 2010
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BarCap may become CoCo bonus pioneer

Investment bankers don’t come up with a lot of financial innovations that today’s regulators and politicians like. But Barclays Capital is working on one that just might please everyone. The investment banking arm of Barclays, the London-based retail banking behemoth, is leaning towards issuing a healthy slug of contingent capital securities, or CoCos, to employees as part of their 2010 deferred compensation, according to people familiar with the firm’s plans.

These securities are bank bonds that turn into equity when things go awry, for instance when losses mount and the bank’s equity capital ratios fall, thereby boosting capital. So, in essence, adding CoCos to the bonus mix would be a novel way for BarCap to force bankers to contribute some of their loot to their employer’s capital cushion, thereby helping to minimize political opprobrium over pay.

Nov 23, 2010
via Breakingviews

“Too big to fail” alive and well in U.S. banking

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

What happened to ending “too big to fail”? That was one objective of the U.S. financial reform bill passed earlier this year. Central to the Dodd-Frank Act were rules designed to make big banks less exciting and safer, along with the creation of an authority designed to smoothly wind down even the largest institutions without massively disrupting the financial system.

    • 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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