Summit Notebook

Exclusive outtakes from industry leaders

BMW keeping wary eye on rivals


After a year of unprecedented turmoil in the auto industry, BMW’s U.S. head smells blood in the water.

Changes in ownership at some of its historic European rivals may present the German luxury automaker with a chance to grab market share. 

But even as Jim O’Donnell saw weaknesses to exploit, he raised the worry that one of Detroit’s most storied car brands, Cadillac, could take out of the market of the company that calls its vehicles “the ultimate driving machine.” 

As Cadillac’s parent company, General Motors Corp, went through a bankruptcy that forced it to cut thousands of jobs and shed brands, BMW picked up Cadillac customers and dealers. But a slimmed down GM could present a renewed threat, said the president of BMW’s North American unit. 

Tinkering whilst debt burns


What have Liverpool Football Club, French building materials firm Materis and German forklift truck maker Kion got in common?

They have all been beneficiaries of European banks’ preference to tinker with company balance sheets rather than fundamentally restructure indebted businesses, one speaker said at this week’s restructuring summit.

Tiffany unlikely to sell lawn chairs


Tiffany & Co has no intention of selling garden furniture and risking brand dilution, steering clear of the product mix of bankrupt rival jeweler Fortunoff , CEO Michael Kowalski hinted this week at the Reuters Global Luxury Summit in New York.

Fortunoff filed for bankruptcy in February in part because of dismal holiday sales in 2008 and the high expense of expanding into Lord & Taylor stores, and was bought by liquidators, marking the end of an 87-year iconic presence in the New York area during which it was known for its jewelry and home furnishing.  It had been bought by Lord & Taylor’s owner NRDC Equity Partners, in March 2008 for $100 million.

from Funds Hub:

Counting sheep

By Lorraine Turner


Speakers at the Reuters Hedge Fund and Private Equity summit this week were asked "what keeps you awake at night" and the answers were wide-ranging, from "my 7-week old daughter" to "the next meteorite".



Some executives are left counting sheep over the heavyweight questions that are plaguing our economies such as how low investment markets will fall or how the credit crisis can be eased as businesses remain stymied by a lack of credit.

AUDIO – For the automakers — No Chapter 11, please


The plans are in.

Now comes the waiting, which, as Tom Petty can tell you, is the hardest part.

Now that General Motors Corp and Chrysler LLC have filed their plans of reorganization to the U.S. government and have started what looks like a long and not-painless process to make themselves smaller, more profitable and better suited to the current U.S. demand for new cars.

For Bill Diehl, chief executive of manufacturing consulting firm BBK, one thing that he would not favor would be a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing by one of the two troubled automakers.

AUDIO-”Lost Decade” is not in the cards for U.S. economy — Sun Capital



Enough with the view that the current credit crisis will drag the U.S. into a “lost decade” similar to the one that Japan suffered in the 1990s, says Gary Talarico, managing director of Sun Capital Partners. 
Talarico lived in Japan for 12 years and worked with Ripplewood Holdings as an adviser on the hugely profitable Shinsei Bank rescue deal. He says the U.S. is much more willing to take the pain of the crisis and emerge much stronger because of it. 
Japan’s strategy to cope with their crisis leaned more to the left, Talarico told the Reuters Restructuring Summit in New York. And because of that, the Japanese economy stagnated for years.
As for what is happening in the U.S. right now? 
“Creative destruction is a good way to describe it,” Talarico said in reference to the failure of Lehman Brothers, the buyout of Merrill Lynch and the government takeover of AIG. 
“These things have to happen. I’m very sad about Lehman. I worked there for 15 years and I absolutely loved the firm. It’s a possibility that if the government moved faster, they might still be alive today. A lot of things might be different. Unfortunately, it is very hard to see the future.
But things have to fail, he said.
“There is no doubt that reckless things were done. Reckless people have to take their pain. But what we can’t afford is a systemic meltdown. It has global implications as well. So, unfortunately, tax payers have to carry some of that burden.”
To hear Talarico’s view on why the U.S. is not headed for a Japan-style slowdown, click here

AUDIO-$700 bln bailout sparks inflation, moral hazard fear


fridson.jpgMartin Fridson — known as the “Dean of the high yield bond market” — is concerned about what we don’t know when it comes to consequences of the U.S. federal government’s $700 billion bailout to help move toxic mortgage debt off their balance sheet.
Fridson, the Chief Executive of Fridson Investment Advisors,  told the Reuters Summit on Tuesday that beyond the unforeseen consequences that scare him most, moral hazard and inflationary pressures from the historic government action top his list of concerns. 
To listen to Fridson’s comments, click here

After Lehman, who do YOU think is next?


lehman1.jpg“Bankruptcies, they fall out of the sky, as we’ve all seen in the last two or three weeks,” Rob McMahon, managing director for restructuring at GE corporate lending, told the Reuters Restructuring Summit in New York this week.
The credit crunch has triggered Lehman’s bankruptcy and the $85 billion U.S. government rescue of American International Group.
At the Reuters Restructuring Summit, journalists at Reuters offices in New York and London are talking to bankruptcy industry insiders about who will be the next to fall.
What do YOU think is the next sector, or company, at risk for going bankrupt, and why?