Foreign capital inflows are supporting a housing bubble in London, and have helped push up sterling - even though the UK’s trade position is almost dire. An unbalanced economy is getting worse. As pre-crisis emerging markets learned, this is a problem with no easy solution.
Shares in UK-based Associated British Foods leapt 8 percent as its Primark discount retailer outlined bold U.S. expansion plans. ABF’s sugar processing unit also seems to be coping with a changing regulatory regime. The shape of the whole business is odd, but seems to work.
The Chinese pork producer is slashing its offering to as little as $1.3 billion. But its reluctance to cut the share price won’t tempt investors turned off by the fat valuation. With an overhang of private equity shareholders and a hefty debt burden the IPO remains a tough sell.
Agitators usually take a stake in a company and then try to make something happen. Bill Ackman has instead teamed up with Valeant Pharmaceuticals to grab a 9.7 pct interest in $40 bln-plus Allergan, with a hostile takeover ready for deployment. It’s a potent battlefield tactic.
The U.S. government’s continued deferral on the Keystone pipeline decision is a case in point. One year’s economic benefit from the project may be $1.8 bln; if the answer is no, the energy system can be optimized another way. Win or lose, regulators need to make up their minds.
Shares in the $23 bln UK microchip designer fell 4 pct after royalty revenue for using its blueprints barely grew. But licences are strong, smartphone demand growth could return soon, and the “internet of things” is promising. The company’s high-margin model is still holding up.
The state-owned Chinese oil group is seeking investors for up to 30 pct of its petrol station arm. Though comparisons are tricky, multiples for other operators suggest a valuation of at least $50bln. A sale at that level could prompt a revaluation of the rest of Sinopec.
Several shareholders object to the $180 bln drinks giant’s equity pay plan. Some want the chairman and CEO jobs split. Nearly a quarter dissed top executives’ comp last year. With the stock underperforming, it’s no wonder investors are grouchy ahead of Wednesday’s annual meeting.
The state-run energy giant paid too much in buying a U.S. refinery for $1.2 bln in 2006, when President Rousseff chaired the board. But at $20 bln, a plant in Brazil is costing far more than similar facilities abroad. It’s a cash drain Petrobras and its investors can ill afford.