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Monday, 02 March 2015

Stocks and Funds

Signage is seen at the front of a branch of Lloyds TSB bank, in the City of London.

Lloyds investment case hinges on its next dividend

27 February 2015

The UK bank’s first payout since 2008 is an encouraging milestone. But it’s largely symbolic. The critical valuation issue is whether Lloyds’ pledge to pay out at least half its future earnings represents a floor or a ceiling - and whether the regulator allows fatter payouts. 

Peter Thal Larsen

Review: Building HSBC's sprawling, flawed empire

27 February 2015

The Hong Kong bank grew into one of the world’s biggest financial institutions. But poor results and a furore over Swiss tax make for an unhappy 150th anniversary. A new history shows how hands-off management and breakneck M&A under former chairman John Bond are partly to blame.

An aircraft is silhouetted by the sun.

Weak euro can lift Airbus profit further

27 February 2015

The European aircraft maker pleased investors with higher-than-expected operating profit and a 60 pct dividend hike. Higher profitability was driven by a weaker euro. With that currency tailwind likely to persist, the annual results give a foretaste of future improvements. 

Logo of Europe's biggest insurer Allianz is pictured in Tokyo

Never mind Bill Gross: Allianz is thriving

26 February 2015

The star investor’s acrimonious departure from Pimco caused huge outflows and hurt operating profit at Allianz, the German owner of the U.S. bond-fund firm. That obscures Allianz’s real strength. Annual results underline the insurer’s renewal under outgoing CEO Michael Diekmann.

Bids and Buyouts

Street lights are pictured next to the 165-metre (541 feet) Cesar Pelli designed Iberdrola Tower, headquarters of Spain's largest utility company, in Bilbao December 20, 2013.

Iberdrola takes baby steps to grow U.S. business

26 February 2015

The Spanish utility is paying $3 billion mostly in shares to merge its U.S. assets with much smaller listed UIL. The U.S. has greater growth potential than Spain, and the price isn’t cheap. But the small cash outlay makes this a relatively low-risk, if not transformational, deal. 

A logo of Hitachi Ltd. is seen at a news conference in Tokyo.

Hitachi’s $2 bln deal signals Italy open for M&A

24 February 2015

The Japanese firm is buying Finmeccanica’s rail units. In Italy and across Europe, sales of high-end industrial assets to the Far East can be unpopular. But Hitachi is a credible buyer paying a full price. It helps too that the seller is eager to slim down and cut debt.

Jarvis Cocker (L) performs with Pulp at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio, California April 13, 2012.

Lowball SFX bid stops music at Wall Street rave

25 February 2015

Robert Sillerman, the U.S. entrepreneur trying to roll up EDM festivals as he did concerts, is offering 37 cents on the IPO dollar for the remainder of the firm he took public less than two years ago. It’s shameful treatment of public investors. They were, however, amply warned.


Deal junkie Valeant shoots up on $10 bln fix

23 February 2015

The drugmaker’s pledge last year to focus on organic growth and debt reduction didn’t last long. Cost cuts and tax savings from buying Salix proved irresistible. What Valeant’s injecting isn’t clear. Salix’s numbers are fuzzy after it admitted pumping clients full of inventory.

Money and Markets

Graduates celebrate receiving a Masters in Business Administration from Columbia University during the year's commencement ceremony in New York in this May 18, 2005.

U.S. student loans could need $500 bln bailout

27 February 2015

Borrowing for education has soared over the past decade, ballooning to $1.2 trln and growing far faster than GDP. With serious delinquencies at 11 pct and Washington on the hook, there’s a mess in the making. A Breakingviews calculator shows how big Uncle Sam’s exposure could get.

Combination photo shows Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis (L) and German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaueble at the start of an extraordinary euro zone Finance Ministers meeting (Eurogroup) to discuss Athens' plans to reverse austerity measures agre

Europe can afford to cut Greece some slack

27 February 2015

Athens wants to slice its primary fiscal surplus to one-third of the level agreed in its current bailout programme. That might leave debt too high for comfort – yet there is room for a compromise that Greece’s euro zone partners could afford.

The Airbus A380 departs JFK International Airport in New York en route to Chicago O'Hare International airport  March 20, 2007.

U.S. airlines throwing stones from glass hangars

27 February 2015

Delta, United and American want trade deals changed, arguing Gulf rivals are unfairly subsidized. That’s rich, given the bailouts, antitrust exemptions and other goodies these three enjoy. Blowback from domestic peers may persuade them that whining to Uncle Sam won’t fly.

Passengers travel on an overcrowded train on the outskirts of New Delhi February 26, 2015. India will increase investment in its overloaded railway network to 8.5 trillion rupees ($137 billion) over the next five years, the government said on Thursday, pr

India goes back to future with $137 bln rail push

27 February 2015

The government’s ambitious plan will require finesse in raising money. But the investment case is strong. India’s British rulers reaped huge productivity gains by building out the railways 150 years ago. Modernizing the dilapidated network could produce even better returns.