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Feb 15, 2013
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Herbalife: the ultimate financial plaything

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

Herbalife has become the ultimate financial plaything. Carl Icahn cemented the status by joining uppity investors Bill Ackman and Dan Loeb in the war over the nutritional supplements seller. One idea of his is for Herbalife to go private – again. The controversial business model and rich cash flow make it easy for Wall Street to keep imprinting fresh narratives on the company.

Feb 11, 2013
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Dell LBO objectors in tight corner

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By Robert Cyran and Richard Beales
The authors are Reuters Breakingviews columnists. The opinions expressed are their own.

Objectors to the founder’s $24.4 billion leveraged buyout of Dell are in a tight corner. The likes of Southeastern Asset Management are right that Michael Dell and Silver Lake Partners have made a lowball offer. Yet it’s at a respectable 25 percent premium, and the company’s shares haven’t topped the $13.65 per share deal price in months or Southeastern’s $23.72 per share valuation in years.

Feb 5, 2013
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Dell’s $24 bln LBO involves a club of one

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

Dell’s $24 billion leveraged buyout involves essentially a club of one. And Silver Lake Partners, the sole private equity firm included, isn’t even really the charter member. Michael Dell is contributing his 14 percent stake in the PC maker he founded, cash and an investment from his MSD Capital investment arm. Time was not long ago that mega-deals required a team of buyers. For now, they remain more exclusive.

Feb 4, 2013
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U.S. venture capital needs a reboot

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

U.S. venture capital needs a reboot. A decade of insufficient shrinkage hasn’t fixed wimpy performance. At 6.1 percent annually over 10 years to September, according to Cambridge Associates and the National Venture Capital Association, VC fund returns undershoot boring stock indexes like the Nasdaq and the Russell 2000.

Jan 28, 2013

Smartphones may not dial in bumper profit for long

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

By Robert Cyran

NEW YORK, Jan 28 (Reuters Breakingviews) – Apple (AAPL.O: Quote, Profile, Research)
and Samsung (005930.KS: Quote, Profile, Research) shouldn’t expect the earnings bandwidth
for smartphones to keep growing much longer. The number of
advanced handsets sold last year grew an incredible 43 percent
to 700 million. They now account for more than two-fifths of the
otherwise stagnant cellphone market, according to Strategy
Analytics. Simple mathematics suggests growth will slow – at
this rate, their slice would be bigger than the whole handset
pie within two years. Tech history also suggests prices will
continue to fall. That’s a toxic combination for margins.

Jan 24, 2013
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Apple finally succumbs to uncreative destruction

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By Robert Cyran

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

Apple has finally succumbed to uncreative destruction. A five-year run with the iPhone and iPad catapulted the company to investment royalty, but it’s coming to an end. Over $50 billion of market value – nearly the equivalent of HP and Dell combined – vaporized in the hours after Apple reported flat fourth-quarter profit. Copycats are gaining and margins are shrinking. Chief Executive Tim Cook needs a real innovation to escape this Red Queen’s race.

Jan 23, 2013

Breakingviews: Microsoft shows why tech cash needs a discount

By Robert Cyran

NEW YORK (Reuters Breakingviews) – Microsoft (MSFT.O: Quote, Profile, Research) shows why tech cash piles should be valued at a discount. The software giant may put up $3 billion to fund a leveraged buyout of Dell, according to CNBC. Sure, the PC maker is cheap and Microsoft’s investment record isn’t bad. But a Dell financing would divert money that could be returned to shareholders to plug holes and postpone obsolescence.

In recent years Microsoft has dipped into its pile of greenbacks – currently $65 billion – to pay for investments that blend strategic and financial goals. In April, it injected $300 million into Barnes & Noble’s (BKS.N: Quote, Profile, Research) Nook and college businesses. About two years ago, Microsoft agreed to subsidize Nokia’s cost of producing handsets in exchange for the Finns putting Windows on its smartphones. And in 2007 it pumped $240 million in Facebook.

Jan 15, 2013

Breakingviews-Digital TV revolution gets a fresh spark

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

By Robert Cyran

NEW YORK, Jan 15 (Reuters Breakingviews) – The digital TV
revolution just got a kick in the rear. U.S. cord-cutting has
been a slow migration not a stampede. However, a launch into 22
big cities for Aereo, which bypasses cable operators with
broadcast channels, could nudge the herd. When mixed with the
likes of Netflix (NFLX.O: Quote, Profile, Research), it renders traditional pay TV less
compelling.

Jan 15, 2013
via Breakingviews

Flu epidemic exposes U.S. risk management flaws

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

In a typical year influenza inflicts about $90 billion worth of economic damage and kills about 36,000 Americans – and this year’s epidemic is shaping up to be worse. Yet Uncle Sam spends far more on homeland security than on flu prevention. Poor resource allocation can be a hard thing to cure.

Jan 9, 2013
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Sprint and Softbank forced into tactical warfare

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

Sprint and Softbank are being forced into tactical warfare. U.S. satellite-TV company Dish Network, run by the enigmatic Charlie Ergen, put forward a highly conditional $2.3 billion offer for Clearwire, a spectrum owner integral to the ambitions of Sprint and its Japanese buyer. Though the bid is unlikely to go far, it could pressure Sprint to pay more – or strike a deal with Dish.

    • About Robert

      "Robert Cyran, U.S. tech columnist, joined Breakingviews in London in 2003 and moved four years later to New York, where he continues to cover global technology, pharmaceuticals and special situations. Robert began his career at Forbes magazine, where he assisted in the start-up of the international version of the magazine. Before working at Breakingviews he worked as a market researcher and reporter covering the pharmaceutical industry. Robert has a Masters degree in economics from Birmingham University and an undergraduate degree from George Washington University."
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