Stocks and Funds
The $75 bln credit-card firm led by Ken Chenault is ValueAct’s latest target. It’s not clear how breaking up or returning capital will remedy Amex’s subpar growth and lagging stock. Going after the long-serving boss, ValueAct’s successful strategy at the software giant, might.
Naming CFO Hans Dieter Poetsch as its new chair should give the German carmaker a better balance between cost discipline and engineering perfection. But a strong external candidate would have made more sense. As it is, Poetsch will start off needing to prove his independence.
Robert Sillerman’s attempt to roll up the electronic dance music business is collapsing not long after UBS, Barclays and Jefferies helped his SFX Entertainment go public. Live Nation may once again turn out to be the buyer of a Sillerman creation, but this time will be different.
The British no-frills carrier has upped its 2015 guidance significantly, sending shares up 6 pct. With earnings per share poised to rise by a fifth, it can easily afford topping up shareholder payouts. But future growth plans limit the scope of another 2013-like special dividend.
Bids and Buyouts
Britain’s biggest grocer is close to selling its supermarkets in South Korea, reports say. The mooted 4.3 bln stg proceeds would cut net debt in half and relieve operational headaches. Yet an exit need not be the end of Tesco’s international ambitions.
Shares in the upmarket online retailer popped 5 pct as Net’s founder cashed out of the merger agreed in March. Terms of the severance deal with Natalie Massenet confirm that Yoox bought its rival at a bargain price. But it is losing know-how at an important time.
Bohai Leasing’s $2.6 bln bid for Dublin-based Avolon confirms China’s desire to grow in aircraft rental. The $31-a-share offer is slightly below Bohai’s indicative bid a month ago. But rising interest rates and the falling yuan could have been reasons to drive a harder bargain.
The Chinese conglomerate’s bid for private bank BHF Kleinwort Benson comes with alluring logic and a reasonable premium. That might not be enough. Weak markets in China, and an apparent belief that Fosun will offer more, are pulling in opposite and unhelpful directions.
Money and Markets
The unemployment rate fell to 5.1 pct in August, putting half the central bank’s dashboard right on target. When joblessness last dropped so low in 2005, interest rates were raised to 3.25 pct. With the inflation outlook also stable, moving past zero shouldn’t be heavy lifting.
Secessionist parties want to kick-start the road to independence in the Spanish region if they win the election on Sept. 27. But even if they prevail, the hurdles to full-blown independence look high. Investors should fret about Spain’s general election in December instead.
The European Commission is mulling a directive to harmonise member states’ various insolvency regimes. If common principles can be nailed down, bankruptcy will get smoother. And the Juncker commission’s goal of better integrated capital markets would have a hope of success.
A court says they can’t force holdout creditors to accept less security against loans. A similar ruling led to a standoff between Buenos Aires and hedge fund Elliott. Unlike countries, companies can declare bankruptcy as a fallback. But restructuring is getting tougher for both.