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Jul 18, 2012
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Purge likely after U.S. obesity drug binge

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

Two U.S. biotech firms are bingeing on obesity drugs. Their concoctions for weight loss have both been approved by the Food and Drug Administration in the last month. With American obesity rates rocketing, analysts are eyeing fat sales and bankers are weighing mergers.

Jul 13, 2012
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Replacing P&G boss may be Bill Ackman’s best hope

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

Procter & Gamble is a hulking target for an uppity investor like Bill Ackman. Typical activist tactics like a breakup won’t work at the $178 billion Pampers-to-Crest giant. New leadership could be one thing to help get P&G back on track, though. Maybe Ackman could even recruit vaunted former Chief Executive A.G. Lafley to help.

Jul 10, 2012
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Intel deal closes circuit to faster chips, growth

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By Robert Cyran
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.Intel has found a way to close the circuit on faster growth. Next-generation chips are cheaper, quicker and require less electricity. But toolmakers haven’t spent the sums necessary to make the switch. Intel’s $4.1 billion investment in ASML should remove such bottlenecks.

The clever deal has multiple components. First, Intel will give the Dutch company $1 billion over five years for research and development into the production of 450-millimeter wafers and extreme ultra-violet lithography. These should cut costs and make chips more powerful. Intel also will buy a 15 percent stake in ASML in two increments, for a total of $3.1 billion.

Jul 9, 2012
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Supreme Court gives shot in arm to Obamacare M&A

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By Robert Cyran

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

Expanding health coverage to more than 30 million Americans remains politically contentious. But the Supreme Court’s decision not to overturn the law means that it’s here to stay. The increased number of covered patients is a lucrative opportunity for insurers that helps justify juicy merger premiums. That’s the logic behind WellPoint’s pricey $4.5 billion bet on Amerigroup. More deals are likely.

Jul 3, 2012
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Will Microsoft learn through self-flagellation?

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By Robert Cyran

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

Will Microsoft learn from self-flagellation? The software giant squandered shareholder treasure for years to break into internet services, gaming and consumer electronics. Writing down the $6 billion it blew on aQuantive in 2007 should mark a turning point where Microsoft at long last returns to its knitting and focuses on enterprise. Thankfully for its shareholders, there are glimmers that this may already be happening.

Jul 2, 2012
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Bristol-Myers and Astra make fat bet on obesity

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By Robert Cyran

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

Bristol-Myers Squibb and AstraZeneca have made a fat bet on obesity. The U.S. and UK drug giants are teaming up in the $7 billion purchase of Amylin Pharmaceuticals. Seven times estimated sales is a hefty price to pay for a biotech whose main drugs face stiff potential competition. But Amylin’s focus on diabetes, a sadly expanding market across the globe, makes this a healthier financial endeavor.

Jun 29, 2012
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iPhone anniversary marks triumph over crisis

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By Robert Cyran

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

Apple rolled out its iconic iPhone five years ago, just as Bear Stearns subprime hedge funds sounded the alarm on a systemic trauma. Financial woe often impedes development. But the iPhone is proof that innovation can defy the odds and overcome hard times.

Jun 27, 2012
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China’s U.S. home loan risks being a subprime idea

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By Robert Cyran

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

China Development Bank appears to be toying with a subprime idea. The Asian firm is considering lending U.S. homebuilder Lennar $1.7 billion to construct two housing projects, according to the Wall Street Journal – one of them on a polluted man-made island in an earthquake zone. It has all the hallmarks of globally distorted economic incentives forcing yield-starved investors to take risky bets they don’t understand.
 
Real estate investing can be tricky for any bank. And converting Treasure Island, a former naval base near San Francisco, into housing isn’t straightforward, due to the competing governmental, environmental and seismic issues. But a good rule of thumb holds that the further afield a project, the greater the danger that the lender is getting out of its depth.
 
Of course, the projects have potential. The timing looks promising, as they could be investing at, or near, the bottom for housing. Average home prices actually rose 1.3 percent in April, according to the S&P/Case Shiller index. These projects won’t be finished for a decade or more, by which point markets could once again be sizzling. San Francisco has few spaces as well placed geographically as these two for big developments. And China Development Bank isn’t completely naïve – it has increasing amounts of experience investing in countries ranging from Australia to Pakistan.

Jun 26, 2012

BREAKINGVIEWS:China’s U.S. home loan risks being a subprime idea

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

By Robert Cyran

NEW YORK, June 26 (Reuters Breakingviews) – China
Development Bank appears to be toying with a subprime idea. The
Asian firm is considering lending U.S. homebuilder Lennar
(LEN.N: Quote, Profile, Research) $1.7 billion to construct two housing projects,
according to the Wall Street Journal – one of them on a polluted
man-made island in an earthquake zone. It has all the hallmarks
of globally distorted economic incentives forcing yield-starved
investors to take risky bets they don’t understand.

Jun 22, 2012
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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.

    • 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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