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Monday, 26 January 2015


Matteo Renzi

Italy gets its mojo back - at least in Davos

23 January 2015

After keeping a lower profile as its economy contracted, the actual sick man of Europe struck “la bella figura” at the WEF annual meeting. The youthful Renzi government’s disruptive style put a spring in the step of Italy’s business leaders. Real reform, however, is only beginning.

A man walks past a Telefonica building in Barcelona, July 31, 2014.

Telefonica’s British Plan B comes good

23 January 2015

The Spanish telco will sell its O2 arm to Hutchison Whampoa for up to 10.3 bln pounds, or a solid 7.3 times 2015 EBITDA. That’s good for the debt-laden seller, left out when BT opted to buy the bigger EE instead. A stronger Hutchison and a bigger BT will shake up UK telecoms.

Greek debt looks fine despite Syriza poll dangers

23 January 2015

The left-wing coalition may win the elections in Greece on Jan. 25. Its plans for debt relief and the end of austerity would put Athens on a collision course with its euro zone lenders. No one has interest in a messy “Grexit” - and the risks of a mess are fairly priced.

People covered with umbrellas walk next to a Siemens building in Munich

Siemens faces big oil deal debacle

23 January 2015

The collapsing oil price turns the German engineer’s dash for shale into a costly blunder. Its $7.6 bln September bid for U.S. oilfield kit maker Dresser-Rand will stain CEO Joe Kaeser’s reputation. With shares of Dresser’s peers clobbered, a major impairment is looming.

Participants attend a session during the annual World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting in Davos, January 23, 2013.

Putin, Piketty and Draghi hit Davos in spirit only

23 January 2015

Political and financial leaders attending the World Economic Forum’s 45th annual meeting are buzzing about rampant inequality, the ECB’s quantitative easing and Russia’s conflict with Ukraine. All that’s missing from the Alpine retreat are the three provocateurs of the debates.

The logo of Swiss bank UBS is reflected in a puddle as a woman walks past, in Zurich.

Swiss bank debt bonuses are worth copying

23 January 2015

UBS is to join Credit Suisse in paying bankers partly in high-risk bonds that implode if capital ratios weaken. Using debt is a spur to longer-term thinking, and is a check on recklessness. Those who still only pay in cash and stock – like Deutsche Bank – should follow suit.

Euro notes

ECB bazooka a water pistol for emerging markets

23 January 2015

Between Mario Draghi’s bond-buying plan and the Bank of Japan’s ongoing splurge, central banks are pumping out $1.5 trillion a year in cheap money. The surprise should boost emerging markets wary of rising rates. But fading growth and falling prices will overwhelm the stimulus.