Stocks and Funds
There’s a jumbo profit alert, a hacked-back dividend and lower capex. The new chief exec is also bringing forward his start date. Dave Lewis needs to reduce prices, rebuild the board, and launch a strategic review of the international business.
The chief exec and CFO are quitting the breakdown firm two months after the IPO. It may not be a post-float car crash: the market seems to like the show of decisiveness by the chairman, now de facto CEO. But the timing is troubling, as is AA’s rejection of conventional governance.
That’s what the payments company may be worth after its latest fundraising. It’s big, but a deflated figure, considering Square’s former hype, the small amount raised, and tech rivals’ ease securing higher valuations. Blame increasing competition for Square’s comparative malaise.
The disappearing-photo business has turned 100 mln users, chat-service demand and the $20 mln sale of a tiny equity stake into a $10 bln price tag. Trouble is, the company lacks revenue – and none is in sight. It’s another example of technology dreams trumping real economics.
Bids and Buyouts
The French media group says it favours Telefonica’s $10 bln bid for its Brazilian mobile unit. Telefonica could pay more, but it’s good that Vivendi has chosen the surest exit for shareholders. As for rival bidder Telecom Italia, it now faces an uncertain future.
A planned HQ north of the border after the $11 bln purchase of Tim Hortons has ignited a tax furor. A shortage of substance makes this look like a PR own goal. But it may be less bad for the deal than a media focus on changes at Hortons, which could provoke scrutiny in Ottawa.
The Spanish telecom group has given Vivendi a soft deadline to accept a new 7.5 bln euro cash-and-stock offer for Brazilian subsidiary GVT. Telecom Italia’s bid is only 7 bln euros, has less cash and is more conditional. Still, Vivendi could yet wring more out of this auction.
Wall Street consigliere Rodge Cohen was given a rare nod from both sides on CIT’s acquisition of OneWest. It suggests Sullivan & Cromwell’s chairman broke through with reluctant regulators. The deal could help restart bank merger plans that have been on hold since the crisis.
Money and Markets
Brazil is in recession, making “the economy, stupid” loom large for October’s presidential poll. The sudden rise of Marina Silva’s star makes “change vs. more of the same” a powerful theme, too. Rousseff’s chickens are coming home to roost just in time to threaten her re-election.
Mario Draghi expects investors to come if he builds a market that he admits barely exists. Purchases of asset-backed securities might help growth and boost inflation. Yet the obstacles are substantial, and regulation is a thorn. Government aid would help.
CBS, Disney and others oppose the Barry Diller-backed streaming startup’s rebirth as a cable firm. But conceding could put online services and, say, Time Warner Cable on equal legal footing and create more competition for content. That’s a win for viewers and networks alike.
A lower currency helps the ECB fight disinflation. It’s a curse for Swiss and Swedish central banks, which are running out of traditional ways to stop an unwanted appreciation in their currencies. They may end up having to follow the euro zone into less charted policy waters.