Breakingviews on Twitter
Search League Tables

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Stocks and Funds

Cans of soda are displayed in a case at Kwik Stops Liquor in San Diego, California.

Activists may take the Pepsi, and Coke, challenge

19 December 2014

Thanks to stagnant sales the world’s top soda makers – with $300 bln of combined market cap – already attracted agitators in 2014. Now Pepsi is risking a proxy fight over billionaire Nelson Peltz’s break-up plan. Coke, too, may face a radical shake-up if it can’t reignite growth.

Deutsche Bank

Deutsche strategy rejig may presage CEO succession

19 December 2014

The German bank is set to review its direction in 2015. Its bet on capital markets remains unproven. Likely regulatory settlements in the coming months could raise further doubts. Recent executive moves suggest Deutsche is keeping options open for strategy and leadership change.

Pharmaceutical tablets

Roche double blow increases dealmaking pressure

19 December 2014

The pharma group has suffered two big drug failures. The setback over Alzheimer’s is no shock—the disease has been a money loser for big pharma. A second knock in Roche’s core cancer franchise hurts more. The failures will increase pressure on Roche to deploy excess cash.

A robot transfers materials into "wells" on a microtiter plate before a test at biotech company Genkyotex's headquarters in Plan-les-Ouates in Geneva July 26, 2013.

Rampaging animal spirits birth biotech unicorn

18 December 2014

The public offering of Juno Therapeutics presents an apt finale to the best year for biotech IPOs. It’s only a year old and revenue free, but its cancer fighting technology is hot. Juno’s $2 bln valuation shows capitalism’s ability to catalyze investors’ hopes and resources.

Bids and Buyouts

An aircraft is silhouetted by the sun.

Aer Lingus attractive yet tricky target for IAG

18 December 2014

The Irish carrier has rebuffed an approach by the owner of British Airways. At the right price, Aer Lingus looks like a natural partner for IAG. But its unwieldy shareholder structure – including a large holding by Ryanair – and anti-trust concerns will be obstacles.

The Chinese flag flies with the Pudong skyline in the background

Chinese companies will mostly stay at home in 2015

17 December 2014

Even with a slowing economy the People’s Republic offers lots of growth for home-grown corporations. Hostile regulators, stronger rivals, and cultural differences discourage foreign expansion. Though some will take the plunge anyway, in most cases overseas growth can wait.

A Sri Lankan man holds an umbrella as he cycles past an overcast bay in the town of Kalmunai on Sri Lanka's east coast.

M&A "clear day" defenses can cloud investor rights

17 December 2014

Anti-takeover protections adopted before threats arise are more apt to weather legal scrutiny. It’s one reason Allergan was able to resist Valeant’s $52 bln bid. When triggered reactively, they’re considered unfair surprises. Either way, shareholders often get unneeded cover.

A Repsol worker walks past the new extension of the Repsol oil refinery in Cartagena, southeastern Spain, April 18, 2012.

Repsol takes risky $13 bln bet on Talisman

16 December 2014

The Spanish oil group is paying a big premium for the Canadian producer. The deal adds diversification after Argentina expropriated its YPF unit but also brings problematic North Sea assets. Repsol is hoping for a Talisman turnaround and an oil price recovery. Both are uncertain.

Money and Markets

Steven Maijoor, Chairman of the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA)

Research reform starts here for Europe's investors

19 December 2014

Regulators are to unbundle charges for financial analysis and trading in Europe. Greater transparency is welcome. But buyside and sellside alike will be cheered that asset managers can still charge research to clients. Determining value for money may be tricky for end-investors.

Quentin Webb

Review: An Icelandic tycoon’s sorry saga

19 December 2014

Thor Bjorgolfsson embodies Iceland’s volcanic rise and fall. He made a fortune in post-Soviet Europe, lost a bank in 2008 and caused Deutsche Bank years of grief with Actavis. This deal junkie’s memoir is self-critical in parts - but unlikely to win many new friends in Reykjavik.

European Central Bank (ECB) President Mario Draghi addresses an ECB news conference December 4, 2014.

ECB sours QE plans to keep Germany sweet

19 December 2014

The central bank will buy sovereign debt – but each national government may have to set aside provisions in line with their own risks, Reuters says. It may secure German approval. But it would also weaken quantitative easing, and highlight a fragmenting euro zone.

Hong Kong's former chief secretary Rafael Hui sits in a car as he leaves during a lunch break at the High Court in Hong Kong December 16, 2014.

Tycoon graft trial shows HK law worth fighting for

19 December 2014

A former official and a property mogul have been found guilty of charges relating to misconduct in public office. The transparency, unpredictability and lack of a neat ending make it very different from similar cases in mainland China. That’s just the way rule of law should be.