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Feb 15, 2012
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Congratulations Google, you’re now a conglomerate

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By Robert Cyran
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.Congratulations Google, you’re now a conglomerate. U.S. and EU antitrust authorities have cleared the search firm’s $12.5 billion purchase of Motorola. Its foray into manufacturing phones and tablets might open new markets – or simply amount to a vital means of defending its core advertising business. Whatever the case, on Wall Street, diversification like this usually merits a valuation discount.

Sure, the purchase of Motorola helps protect Google’s intellectual property. The cellphone maker’s several thousand patents shore up the walls protecting Google’s Android operating system from software and hardware rivals alike. But the company has made it clear from the start that its purchase wasn’t only about intellectual property – it was also about making gadgets.

Feb 13, 2012
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Complexity caps allure of Yahoo’s Alibaba solution

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

Yahoo sounds closer to finding a solution for its long-running Alibaba problem. A mostly cash split-off promises a tax-efficient way for the troubled U.S. Internet firm to slash its stake in its Chinese rival. But the deal is getting so elaborate, it could dilute the benefits for Yahoo shareholders.

Feb 9, 2012
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Groupon’s growth spurt nearing the end

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By Robert Cyran

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

Groupon’s growth spurt is nearing its end. The newly-public online U.S. coupon firm increased sales five-fold in 2011 and even turned slightly profitable. But its first results since the initial public offering last November, announced on Wednesday after markets closed, also show revenue growth slowed for a fifth consecutive quarter. Groupon will have to get a move-on to justify its $15 billion valuation.

Feb 7, 2012
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How does a $31 bln mega-LBO become an $18 mln IPO?

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

How does a $31 billion mega-buyout dwindle to an $18 million initial public offering? What sounds like a gambling tragedy is the perplexing, yet true, story of the leveraged buyout of Caesars Entertainment – formerly Harrah’s Entertainment – by TPG and Apollo. Co-investors are in such a hurry to get out, they’re actually paying to exit.

The 2006 LBO, combined with a boom in Las Vegas casino construction, left Caesars too heavily indebted when tourism turned down. Swapping some debt for equity helped, but the company still has $18.5 billion in net debt. It had $1.8 billion in EBITDA over the past 12 months, only roughly equal to its interest expense. That makes it hard to spruce up casinos or build new ones.

Feb 6, 2012
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April Fool’s comes early to comical M&A market

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By Robert Cyran

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

It’s hard not to smirk at the latest transaction to shoot out of the M&A pipeline. America’s largest title insurer, the $4 billion Fidelity National Financial, is buying O’Charley’s, an owner of U.S. steak joints. Not only is it a deal ripe for bad jokes about a combination plate of mortgage deeds and French fries. It also defies all convention.

Feb 3, 2012
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Facebook’s biggest risk lies in palm of your hand

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

What’s the biggest risk facing Facebook? Hint: it may be in the palm of your hand. Half of the social network’s 845 million users now access the site through their cellphones, and that number is surging. Problem is Facebook currently receives virtually no display advertising revenue from small screens. The rapid shift to mobile Internet usage could be Mark Zuckerberg’s biggest threat – and he knows it.

Feb 1, 2012
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Facebook IPO won’t bring major status update

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By Robert Cyran and Rob Cox

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

Facebook’s $5 billion-plus initial public offering won’t bring a major status update. Listing on a stock exchange typically brings lots of changes. But tick through the list, and it’s clear that the social network, which filed for its long-awaited U.S. initial public offering on Wednesday evening, is already largely there.

Jan 30, 2012
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Apple’s cash is key to unlocking suppressed value

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By Robert Cyran

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

Apple on Friday once again overtook Exxon Mobil as the world’s most valuable publicly traded company. But investors seem to think its roughly $420 billion market capitalization is some kind of limit. The company doesn’t get full credit for its nearly $100 billion cash hoard or its growth. Apple’s cash could be the key to unlocking suppressed value.

Jan 26, 2012
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AOL pinned down by girly startup on a shoestring

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By Robert Cyran

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

AOL hopes to regain its Internet mojo by focusing on women – a demographic often ignored by the male-dominated geeks of Silicon Valley. Despite lots of investment though, this hasn’t panned out for the fading firm run by Tim Armstrong. Yet out of seemingly nowhere, a startup – Pinterest – appears to be forging a similar strategy to grow at a phenomenal rate, and at a fraction of the cost.

Jan 24, 2012
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Apple juggernaut regains warp speed with new pilot

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By Robert Cyran

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

The Apple juggernaut has regained warp speed with its new pilot, Tim Cook. The tech giant’s quarter ending in December blew away the previous rare let-down: around $30 billion of market cap added after hours on Tuesday proves that. The latest iPhone fueled a 73 percent surge in sales from the year before. With cash rolling in, the destiny of nearly $100 billion in Apple’s piggybank is looming large.

    • 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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