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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.

May 18, 2012
via Breakingviews

Facebook IPO features best and worst of capitalism

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

Facebook’s initial public offering on Friday showcases the best and worst sides of capitalism. Execrable puffery accompanies the entrepreneurial achievement of transforming a dorm-room project into a company worth over $100 billion in just eight years. Poor corporate governance, Silicon Valley cronyism, breathless pundits spewing misinformation, bankers in hoodies and manic investors are all on display. And yet the flip side of such indulgence is worth admiring. 

Wall Street’s premier event of the year turned into an outright circus, including a 30-minute delay for the shares to start trading on Nasdaq despite considerable anticipation of the mega-volume that ensued. At its most benign, otherwise serious thinkers about capital markets devoted unthinkable amounts of time publicly debating whether founder Mark Zuckerberg’s casual dress was a slight to investors while financiers cravenly sucked up to the 28-year-old. But there’s a darker side to the hoopla, too. 

May 18, 2012

Breakingviews: Facebook IPO features best and worst of capitalism

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

By Robert Cyran

NEW YORK, May 18 (Reuters Breakingviews) – Facebook’s initial public offering on Friday showcases the best and worst sides of capitalism. Execrable puffery accompanies the entrepreneurial achievement of transforming a dorm-room project into a company worth over $100 billion in just eight years. Poor corporate governance, Silicon Valley cronyism, breathless pundits spewing misinformation, bankers in hoodies and manic investors are all on display. And yet the flip side of such indulgence is worth admiring.

May 14, 2012

Apple’s TV quest probably could do with some help

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

By Robert Cyran

NEW YORK, May 14 (Reuters Breakingviews) – Apple’s (AAPL.O: Quote, Profile, Research)
opportunity in TV is pretty obvious by now. The simplification
of frustrating and complex on-screen guides and remote controls
is a task ripe for the gadget king, and one that Steve Jobs
indicated to his biographer he had tackled. And while Apple
isn’t known for big acquisitions, smaller, targeted ones have
helped in past conquests. The scope of the TV market also would
seem to lend itself to some outside help.

May 14, 2012

Yahoo needs more than a revolution at the top

By Robert Cyran

NEW YORK (Reuters Breakingviews) – Yahoo (YHOO.O: Quote, Profile, Research) needs more than a revolution at the top. The dysfunctional internet firm is much like a failing country. It has been mismanaged and suffers from bureaucracy and an increasingly uncompetitive business model. It even had, until recently, a dictator for life in founder Jerry Yang. Third Point’s successful shareholder revolt promises a fresh start, but fixing Yahoo won’t be simple. The firm is plagued by many ills.

To be sure, the $18.5 billion group can now try to move on after the departure of chief executive Scott Thompson, who admitted to embellishing his resume with a non-existent computer science degree and is also reported to be suffering from cancer. Moreover, there’s finally promise that Yahoo may address a core problem: its complacent board. It is replacing its chairman, too, and three directors including Third Point chief Dan Loeb will join the board.

May 9, 2012
via Breakingviews

Boardroom gamblers roasted by their own hubris

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By Robert Cyran

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

Someone should have told Robert Stiller and William Davis to wake up and smell the coffee. The top two board members of cup-of-Joe maker Green Mountain were removed from their posts on Tuesday by their fellow directors after having to sell stock in the company during a quiet period to meet margin calls. The fate of Stiller, the company’s founder and chairman, and Davis, its lead independent director, should serve as a lesson to all.

May 3, 2012
via Breakingviews

Dependence on Facebook spreads beyond its users

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

Dependence on Facebook spreads far and deep. It’s not just social networking junkies that have grown reliant on Mark Zuckerberg’s website creation, which on Thursday filed a new version of the prospectus for its impending initial public offering. Businesses such as online gamer Zynga have been created on its back. Bankers are pegging their careers on floating the firm. And the state of California needs the IPO to help close its yawning budget gap.

    • 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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