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Blog Profile / Reuters Breakingviews Blog

Filed Under:News
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Archived Since:June 19, 2011

Blog Post Archive

Macau revenue drop augurs further slowdown

Online betting on soccer’s World Cup may have contributed to the first year-on-year drop in the enclave’s gaming revenue since 2010. Fewer high rollers and a credit card crackdown didn’t help. That’s okay as long as tourist numbers keep rising. But future growth may be bumpier.

U.S. cooks up penalties with anti-foreign flavor

New research shows that overseas firms like BNP Paribas do in fact pay bigger fines and plead guilty more often than U.S. companies. One reason may be that prosecutors target only the most serious cases abroad. But the gaps feed suspicions that America is playing favorites.

BNP’s Prot should go

The French bank has pleaded guilty to criminal wrongdoing and will pay a near-$9 bln fine to U.S. authorities. Chairman Baudouin Prot was CEO when BNP Paribas was helping clients evade U.S. sanctions. His position is untenable. In the name of accountability, he should resign.

Private equity’s bad habit: Asian minority stakes

Buyout firms are spending record amounts on non-controlling shareholdings in Asian public companies. History suggests such investments are fraught with risks. Pressure to deploy capital in a market short of traditional targets is driving a trend fee-paying investors dislike.

Evonik in $400 mln soccer deal it doesn’t need

The German specialty chemicals company is buying a 9 percent stake in a first-tier soccer team, emulating Adidas, Audi, Allianz and Bayern Munich. But Evonik’s products don’t reach end users. The potential benefits of its deal with Borussia Dortmund are hazy at best.

Philips lighting split is a bright idea

The Dutch conglomerate is restructuring again, moving high-powered LEDs and car lights into a standalone unit with 1.4 bln euros in sales. The business is fast-growing and would benefit from outside capital. Stepping out of the parent’s shadow should help.

Diagnosis of economic malaise lacks credible cure

Global growth is feeble and financial markets are piling up risks, says the Bank for International Settlements. Yet its proposed remedies of tighter monetary policy and structural reform are unconvincing. Like everyone else, central banks are still seeking the right medicine.

Soros takes sub-quantum leap into activism

His $29 bln hedge fund has famously confronted governments. But facing off with a U.S. oil and gas company is novel. Whether a test of a new – and recently profitable – strategy or a sign of change at the family firm, it gives underperforming bosses another scourge to fear.

Barclays’ hit reflects investment bank fears

Shares in the UK bank tanked 9 pct after accusations of fraud in its “dark pool.” That implies a surprisingly big $6 bln hit. Fine inflation is rampant, and Barclays could suffer reputational damage. It’s a reminder: small investment banking businesses can carry outsized risks.

Review: Rebooting banking – with Google’s help

Brett King’s account of how smartphones are changing retail banking suffers from an excess of acronyms and advertorial. Still, King explains how compliance costs make the emergence of an Amazon of banking unlikely, and how internet data can help banks provide better services.

Numbers show Germany will beat Brazil to World Cup

The football-mad host nation has cruised into the knock-out stages of soccer’s jamboree. Some fancied rivals have gone home early. But a Breakingviews calculator – based on hard numbers like transfer value, population and public engagement – suggests Germany will lift the trophy.

Builder’s shaky foundations dent UAE’s credibility

Shares in Arabtec have lost more than half their value in six weeks. The abrupt resignation of its CEO, uncertainty over sovereign support and poor communication are to blame. It’s a warning to investors attracted to the country by its new emerging market status.

U.S. drought could spark economic water warfare

Scarce rains have left California and the U.S. Southwest dry just as industries from beverages to semiconductors grow concerned about the availability of H20. That presents a flood of opportunity for water tech firms and Great Lakes states like Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin.

Biggest risk of geopolitics is as a distraction

Fears that war and foreign policy chaos will disrupt the global economy have insidiously crept into the minds of investors, Barclays discovered. In reality, despite deterioration in the Middle East, the global balance is broadly positive. There are bigger things to worry about.

China’s subway splurge only half on right track

Building more tube lines is a good idea. Asking international investors to fund them is not. Beijing’s $190 mln subway bond may be an exception. But given the positive externalities, urban transport is one thing China needn’t be coy about funding from the public purse.

Aereo is dead, long live TV disruption

The U.S. Supreme Court says the Barry Diller-backed streaming startup violates copyright law. Legal loopholes abound, however, and investors and viewers will reward those who find ways to exploit them. The likes of CBS and Disney can’t afford to spend much time celebrating.

English soccer protectionism would be an own goal

Even before England’s latest World Cup woes, its ruling body was mulling curbs on foreign players to nurture homegrown talent. That type of “import substitution” could hobble home markets. Financial subsidies for English players to play abroad would work better.

Japan’s corporate tax cut could harm Abenomics

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wants to prove his reform credentials by slashing the levy below 30 pct. But Japan’s tax-to-GDP ratio is low, and public debt is high. A concession for companies could mean a bigger levy for consumers. That would undermine Abe’s anti-deflation campaign.

Next stop: Siemens-Alstom train merger

Losing the competition for Alstom’s power assets was a blessing in disguise for the German engineering group. It can now focus fully on its internal restructuring. Fixing the ailing train unit is crucial. Hiving it off to Alstom itself could well be the best solution.

Iraq troubles are unlikely to bring new oil crisis

The continued violence looks like a harbinger of a sharp cutback from one of the world’s major oil producers. But the bulk of Iraq’s production is still secure. The Middle East is clearly becoming less stable, but it would take a cascade of problems to create a big price shock.

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