U.S. Editor, Commentary
Rob's Feed
Apr 4, 2011
via Breakingviews

Google’s M&A machine stuck in antitrust limbo

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

Not long ago, selling to Google offered one of the best alternatives to an initial public offering for up-and-coming technology startups. YouTube did it. So did AdMob — along with 70 or so other companies from 2005 through the end of last year. But Google’s M&A machine looks to be gumming up.

Apr 1, 2011
via Breakingviews

Brazil sends bad market signal scalping Vale’s CEO

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

By Rob Cox

Last week’s ouster of Vale SA’s chief executive sends a terrible signal to the markets about the Brazilian government’s intentions. Roger Agnelli resisted the state’s designs to push the $180 billion mining group into lower-return, if labor intensive, activities. With President Dilma Rousseff’s government forcing his departure, investors must brace for a strategy that favors jobs over profit – think Pemex instead of BHP Billiton.

Mar 31, 2011
via Breakingviews

Citigroup may hold key to whether Sokol did wrong

Citigroup is in an uncomfortable spot. Its bankers may have information needed to determine whether the onetime successor to Berkshire Hathaway Chairman Warren Buffett violated securities laws when personally trading in shares of Lubrizol, which Berkshire acquired for $9 billion. While uncomfortable, this doesn’t have to be damaging territory for Citi.

Indeed, merger documents detailing the sequence of events that led to the Lubrizol deal on March 14 show Citi doing what investment banks are supposed to do: matching hungry buyers with willing sellers. David Sokol, acting in some capacity as a dealmaker for Berkshire, asked Citi bankers last fall to come up with good ideas for “possible transactions” in a variety of industries, including chemicals.

Mar 31, 2011
via Breakingviews

Woodstock of capitalism just turned into Altamont

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

By Rob Cox

The Woodstock of capitalism just turned into Altamont. Berkshire Hathaway’s annual meeting in Omaha this year won’t just be a folksy affair, with Chairman Warren Buffett dispensing common sense aphorisms about financial morality between bites of his Dairy Queen Dilly Bar. Following the abrupt resignation of one of the prime contenders to succeed the billionaire investor, after he personally traded in shares of a company he persuaded Berkshire to buy, Buffett needs to assuage investors about succession, ethics and whether he’s lost his mojo.

Mar 28, 2011
via Breakingviews

T-Mobile sale not the only telco worry for antitrust watchdogs

America’s antitrust and telecoms watchdogs have their hands full with AT&T’s proposed purchase of T-Mobile. So they may overlook what’s at stake in a seemingly esoteric spat between Google geeks and their Facebook cohorts. But the quarrel raises vexing questions about the search giant’s increasing dominance in the mobile handset market — and whether it can resist the temptation to abuse that power.

On its face, the kerfuffle is still something of a “he said, she said” among the engineering set. Google said it is making a “small change” to the way contacts from Facebook appear on its next-generation handset, the Nexus S. This modification essentially no longer allows customers to download their contacts from Facebook. The reason, Google insists, is that the Facebook data cannot be exported from the device, creating “a false sense of data portability.”

Mar 23, 2011
via Breakingviews

U.S. bank watchdogs face leadership vacuum

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

SAN DIEGO — The hour is upon American banking regulators. They’ve been handed 2,000-plus pages of new law in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act that must be transformed into workable rules and procedures, and then implemented to fulfill the legislation’s promise to make the financial system safer. But there’s a problem: Many of the watchdogs charged with the task face leadership vacuums. This could spell trouble.

Mar 18, 2011
via Breakingviews

Booing bankers should be watchdogs’ badge of honor

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

Sheila Bair may unwittingly have discovered a simple litmus test for bank regulator effectiveness. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp chairman this week faced catcalls from a mob of U.S. community bankers. She was taken aback by the booing. But in fact, watchdogs should bask in such disdain if it means they’re doing their jobs.

Mar 8, 2011
via Breakingviews

Ultimate hedgie goal may be taking no outside cash

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

Carl Icahn was already a member of the multibillionaires club. Now the former corporate raider-cum-hedge fund manager is joining an even more elite group. Icahn will hand back the $1.8 billion or so of other people’s money that he has looked after for six years and focus solely on managing his own billions.

Feb 28, 2011

Buffett has it both ways with Goldman Sachs

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

By Rob Cox

NEW YORK (Reuters Breakingviews) – Warren Buffett once again used his annual letter to shareholders to rail against many of the Wall Street practices he has long despised, including hedge fund compensation, leverage and option-value pricing. What’s odd this time around is to see the Berkshire Hathaway chairman’s folksy criticisms set alongside a very public display of affection for one of the prime beneficiaries of these apparently wicked ways — Goldman Sachs.

Feb 25, 2011
via Breakingviews

Mystery helps Apple’s sales but not its governance

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

By Rob Cox

The mystique that Apple cloaks itself in when launching snazzy gadgets has served its bottom line well. But that same opacity doesn’t translate well to corporate governance.

    • 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"
    • Follow Rob