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Blog Profile / Reuters Breakingviews Blog


URL :http://blogs.reuters.com/columns
Filed Under:News
Posts on Regator:2968
Posts / Week:17
Archived Since:June 19, 2011

Blog Post Archive

Agenda for Tesco CEO: price cuts, board and UK

There’s a jumbo profit alert, a hacked-back dividend and lower capex. The new chief exec is also bringing forward his start date. Dave Lewis needs to reduce prices, rebuild the board, and launch a strategic review of the international business.

Review: A pained call for radical financial reform

Financial Times writer Martin Wolf’s new book is partly a cogent review of what went wrong in the 2008 crisis. But the message economists and policymakers should focus on, especially from a centrist intellectual, is that the best ideas for the future are far from the mainstream.

Global poverty needs a post-industrial definition

Criticism is mounting against the $1-a-day threshold, a legacy of industrial-age thinking that equated penury with calorie deficiency. That’s too narrow. Being unable to afford education, medication or old-age security counts as deprivation. So does exclusion from modern jobs.

Vivendi boosts shareholder credentials in GVT sale

The French media group says it favors Telefonica’s $10 bln bid for its Brazilian mobile unit. Telefonica could pay more, but it’s good that Vivendi has chosen the surest exit for shareholders. As for rival bidder Telecom Italia, it now faces an uncertain future.

Telefonica may have to inch higher for GVT

The Spanish telecom group has given Vivendi a soft deadline to accept a new 7.5 bln euro cash-and-stock offer for Brazilian subsidiary GVT. Telecom Italia’s bid is only 7 bln euros, has less cash and is more conditional. Still, Vivendi could yet wring more out of this auction.

Bland Lagarde will escape the Bretton Woods curse

The IMF chief is under investigation for signing off on a 403 million euro payout to a French tycoon. Her predecessor DSK and former World Bank boss Wolfowitz were both ousted for misconduct. Christine Lagarde, though, has few enemies. Being dull may prove her saving grace.

Snapchat’s valuation soars on tech-land pixie dust

The disappearing-photo business has turned 100 mln users, chat-service demand and the $20 mln sale of a tiny equity stake into a $10 bln price tag. Trouble is, the company lacks revenue – and none is in sight. It’s another example of technology dreams trumping real economics.

Tragedy may reshape Brazil economy, not just vote

Marina Silva, set to be the opposition presidential candidate after Eduardo Campos’ plane-crash death, is a fresh threat to Dilma Rousseff. Silva has long fought special interests. If she wins October’s election, a plausible outcome, Brazil could gain from less state meddling.

Tesco should cut its dividend

Shareholders ultimately lose out when too-high payouts prevent companies from responding well to problems. Right now, Tesco needs all the financial flexibility it can muster. With a new CEO coming, the UK grocer has a window of opportunity it would be wise to climb through.

Aggressive M&A puts focus on Thai tycoon’s empire

Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi is eyeing more deals on top of the $3.3 bln his drinks-to-property group has spent this year. Investors have given a poor reception to his recent transformative acquisitions. A pick ‘n’ mix approach to public markets may explain some of the doubts.

Buffett and tax outrage both diversions in BK deal

The Sage of Omaha is lending Burger King money, at a lucrative 9 percent, but his imprint tells stock investors nothing. And contrary to social media hysteria, a new parent company in Canada isn’t going to fleece the U.S. taxman. The $11 bln purchase of Tim Hortons is just an LBO.

Burger King tax flip merger logic doesn’t stack up

The $9.6 bln burger chain’s investors cheered its talks to buy Canadian doughnut shop Tim Hortons and move its headquarters across the border. There’s little obvious tax arbitrage, and Burger King isn’t larded with foreign cash. Inversion alone can’t justify the market’s appetite.

S&P 500 at 2,000 invites “new normal” thinking

A price-to-earnings ratio under 20 is only moderately above average, but U.S. earnings are at a peak relative to GDP. Adjust them to the long-term norm and the U.S. benchmark would be a third lower. Cheap money is still buoying stocks, but such new paradigms usually don’t last.

Why can Burger King, but not Wendy’s, own Hortons?

In 2005, Bill Ackman, now BK’s No. 2 shareholder, pressured rival Wendy’s to spin off the Canadian doughnut chain - arguing it was undervalued, the synergies “minimal” and management insufficiently incentivized. Funny how a robust dose of financial engineering changes minds.

France’s housing slump is sign of deeper woes

House prices are falling and Paris is a buyer’s market. Hollande’s clumsy policies and lower interest rates should have the opposite effect. But the seriousness of the slowdown incites households and companies to hoard cash. Only shock therapy can end the death spiral.

Court order adds urgency to India’s coal crunch

The Supreme Court has ruled the practice of allocating coal mines to metal and power companies to be illegal. In the long run, transparent auctions will be better. But the verdict will force the government to find a timely solution to an acute coal shortage that may now worsen.

Roche’s $8 bln bet outsmarts ice-bucket challenge

Dumping cold water on heads, the social-media phenomenon now boosting ALS research, is a great way to raise charitable cash. But the drug made by Roche’s target, InterMune, treats a disease with more sufferers. The market may be the more efficient way to direct funds.

Asia’s top-down corporate reforms vary in promise

Newish leaders across the region are pushing to change the way companies work. Although the mechanisms and targets vary between countries, increasing efficiency appears to be a common theme. But investors eyeing improved returns will find not all reforms are equal.

Dynegy’s $6.25 bln grab marks return of ambition

The U.S. power company once tried to buy Enron and eventually went bust after a spat with activist Carl Icahn. Two years out of bankruptcy, Dynegy is roughly doubling its business with two deals. They look sensible, but the lesson from the past is to avoid getting carried away.

Review: Paul Ryan changes delivery but not direction

“The Way Forward,” by the U.S. congressman and former VP candidate, is more campaign manifesto than memoir. Ryan’s rhetoric has softened but his harsh policy proposals haven’t. The title is accurate in at least one way. His austerity ideas probably will guide Republican strategy.

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