Robert's Feed
Jun 22, 2012
via Breakingviews

Canada scraps to sidestep U.S.-like housing woes

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

Canada is doing its best to avoid the housing woes experienced by its neighbor to the south. A new set of mortgage reforms will make it even harder for Canucks to borrow. Yet ultra-low interest rates keep feeding a residential real estate boom that three previous government initiatives haven’t stopped. Prudent regulation can only limit so much the distortions created by easy money.

Jun 20, 2012
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Quest board cleverly squeezes more out of MBO

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By Robert Cyran

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

Quest Software’s directors have come up with a canny plan to squeeze more money out of a buyout offer backed by Chief Executive Vincent Smith. They were put on the defensive in March when Smith, who owns a third of the enterprise software company, teamed up with private equity shop Insight Venture Partners for a lowball bid. But independent board members managed to level the playing field by offering Dell an option to acquire a 19.9 percent stake in the firm if Smith didn’t support its superior bid. That bagged shareholders a 12 percent bump in the purchase price.

Jun 19, 2012
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KKR gets rich prescription for top-of-market LBO

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By Robert Cyran and Quentin Webb
The authors are Reuters Breakingviews columnists. The opinions expressed are their own.

KKR has found the right formula to exit Alliance Boots, its top-of-the-market drugstore deal. Walgreen’s two-stage acquisition of its European rival should more than double the investment KKR and its partners made at the peak of the leveraged buyout frenzy. What the U.S. drug chain’s investors will get for their money – as much as $16.2 billion – is harder to fathom.

The first stage sees Walgreen pay about $6.7 billion in cash and stock for 45 percent of Boots. The firm’s ownership is currently split fairly equally between KKR funds, Boots Executive Chairman Stefano Pessina and outside investors. Pessina, who will become a Walgreen director, takes proportionately more stock than the financial investors.

Jun 19, 2012
via Breakingviews

Microsoft tablet suffers from lack of greatness

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By Robert Cyran

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

Microsoft has managed to pull off a welcome surprise. Considering the software giant’s poor track record selling consumer gadgets, few would have been surprised if it managed to produce another doozy with its foray into the market for tablets. But Microsoft’s “Surface,” which it introduced late Monday afternoon, shows it is getting the hang of it. But with other firms already well entrenched, producing just a decent offering probably isn’t enough.

Jun 12, 2012

Breakingviews: Apple and Facebook become frenemies versus Google

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

By Robert Cyran

NEW YORK (Reuters Breakingviews) – Apple (AAPL.O: Quote, Profile, Research) and Facebook (FB.O: Quote, Profile, Research) have become frenemies versus Google (GOOG.O: Quote, Profile, Research). The iPhone maker hasn’t figured out social networks. Remember Ping? Facebook fears losing control to the makers of operating systems powering mobile gadgets. Making the social network work smoothly on Apple devices can boost revenue for both – and allow them to thwart their mutual nemesis Google.

Jun 12, 2012

Apple and Facebook become frenemies versus Google

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

By Robert Cyran

NEW YORK, June 12 (Reuters Breakingviews) – Apple (AAPL.O: Quote, Profile, Research)
and Facebook (FB.O: Quote, Profile, Research) have become frenemies versus Google
(GOOG.O: Quote, Profile, Research). The iPhone maker hasn’t figured out social networks.
Remember Ping? Facebook fears losing control to the makers of
operating systems powering mobile gadgets. Making the social
network work smoothly on Apple devices can boost revenue for
both – and allow them to thwart their mutual nemesis Google.

Jun 8, 2012
via Breakingviews

Chesapeake gets pistol-whipping from shareholders

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By Robert Cyran and Christopher Swann

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

Chesapeake Energy has gotten a pistol-whipping from shareholders. The besieged U.S. gas giant’s owners voted overwhelmingly against directors who were up for re-election and the board’s executive pay plan, while favoring a slew of investor proposals to improve Chesapeake’s governance. It’s hard to see how boss Aubrey McClendon can keep running this circus.

Jun 5, 2012

Facebook’s short-term greed carries long-term harm

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

By Robert Cyran

NEW YORK, June 5 (Reuters Breakingviews) – Initial public
offerings are more than just a one-time event to raise money.
The success or failure of a high-profile capital markets deal
can also influence how a company is more broadly perceived. Take
Facebook (FB.O: Quote, Profile, Research). Debuting at a lofty valuation helped insiders
cash out some stock. But as a new Reuters/Ipsos poll shows, the
30 percent plunge in Facebook stock may hurt the social
network’s reputation. That’s bad for a consumer brand.

May 31, 2012
via Breakingviews

RIM doesn’t need to remain Canadian

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

Research In Motion doesn’t need to remain Canadian. The struggling BlackBerry maker is weighing its options, from joint ventures to a sale. Some officials seem to prefer to keep the once-feted company’s ownership north of the U.S. border. But despite form in the recent past, the possibility of a deal being blocked shouldn’t worry potential foreign buyers of RIM too much. The company’s declining sales and significance present a bigger challenge. 

True, the Canadian government torpedoed BHP’s $39 billion offer for fertilizer producer Potash Corp in 2010. And Prime Minister Stephen Harper told Reuters earlier this year that takeovers of “critical technology” companies might get the kibosh. 

May 22, 2012

Did Chesapeake miss Enron lessons?

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

By Christopher Swann and Robert Cyran

NEW YORK, May 22 (Reuters Breakingviews) – Chesapeake Energy
(CHK.N: Quote, Profile, Research), the embattled U.S. natural gas producer, seems to have
missed some of the lessons of Enron’s demise. There have been no
allegations of fraud. But the U.S. gas firm’s vast trading
operation, fondness for complicated holdings and relationships,
and corporate generosity are among the traits that, in
hindsight, should have invited greater scrutiny of Enron’s
edifice.