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Thursday, 26 May 2016

BREAKINGVIEWS

A Red Cross worker during a training session with volunteers in Guatemala City April 29, 2009.

Health M&A's shots of state oversight may be toxic

25 May 2016

Missouri trustbusters plan to oppose Aetna’s $37 bln union with Humana absent changes. That probably won’t kill the deal, but the U.S. insurers must still satisfy regulators in five crucial states and Uncle Sam. No wonder investors’ prognosis for this and similar mergers is grim.

A Chevron gas station sign is seen in Del Mar, California, April 25, 2013.

Exxon, Chevron climate obstinacy comes at a price

25 May 2016

Both are rejecting pushes from big investors like CalPERS to beef up disclosure about business risks from global warming. It leaves them trailing peers and may put them at odds with U.S. officials and the G20. Refusing to adapt has serious consequences, now and in the future.

Members of the public walk past the Bank of England in central London June 3, 2008.

Bank returns paradox cannot hold

25 May 2016

Why do banks seek double-digit returns when interest rates are so low? The Bank of England is among those wondering. Return expectations may be too high, or banks may still be too risky. Investors don’t appear to care. If they did, banks might face calls to break up.

Lagarde and Schaeuble

Greek deal is rational, predictable, messy

25 May 2016

Both the IMF and Europe have compromised in Greece’s new debt plan. Athens’ fiscal targets are looser, but less so than the IMF wanted. Its debt costs will fall, but the relief is vague. There’s a hoary cliche about kicking the can down the road. This doesn’t even go that far.

M&S hangers

New M&S boss fashions disappointing revamp

25 May 2016

Turnaround plans unveiled by new chief Steve Rowe have one big wrinkle. His makeover for the UK retailer involves short-term pain but may not solve its main problems - fierce competition for customers and a muddled offering. Bolder thinking is needed in such a tough sector.

Sony

Sony's lowball forecasts are oddly reassuring

25 May 2016

Shares rallied despite a profit outlook that fell below expectations. Setting $1 bln of quake damage aside, the Japanese group is faring well. Consoles are humming along, handsets are stabilising, and a duff project has been nixed quickly. Sony’s turnaround is almost complete.

Monsanto is displayed on a screen where the stock is traded on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, U.S. on May 9, 2016.

Monsanto can push Bayer only so far

24 May 2016

The U.S. seed producer rejected a $62 bln offer from the German chemical giant, but said it was open to talks. Bayer’s shareholders reacted poorly to the initial bid while Monsanto investors are skeptical about chances for a deal. Negotiating power is limited on both sides.

The logo of Enel Group is seen on a Formula E racing car in Rome, Italy May 17, 2016

Italian broadband has a new Romulus and Remus

25 May 2016

Utility Enel looks likely to win the bidding for fibre-optic group Metroweb, beating Telecom Italia. What follows may have shades of the twins who fought over the building of Rome. If so, Enel should be daunted, TI worried and Italian broadband users overjoyed.

Peter Thiel, the Silicon Valley investor who co-founded PayPal, talks to students during his visit to the 42 school campus in Paris, France, February 24, 2016.

Facebook has new free-speech problem: Peter Thiel

25 May 2016

The venture capitalist has been revealed to be a secret backer of Hulk Hogan’s lawsuit against Gawker. That calls into question his media neutrality just as the social network is under fire for bias. As a director, Thiel’s First Amendment position is at odds with Facebook’s.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) shakes hands with his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah al-Sisi during their meeting in Moscow, August 26, 2015.

Russia's show of financial power fails to convince

25 May 2016

Moscow is selling its debt to foreigners and lending $25 bln - 2 pct of domestic GDP - to Egypt for a nuclear plant. Such shows of financial strength are all well and good. But the debt sale isn’t quite what it seems, and lending big sums at sub-market rates is risky.

The Hewlett-Packard (HP) logo is seen as part of a display at the Microsoft Ignite technology conference in Chicago, Illinois, May 4, 2015.

Meg Whitman sullies good deal with fuzzy math

25 May 2016

The HP Enterprise CEO is merging its services unit with Computer Sciences. It’s a decent way to salvage an awful 2008 acquisition. At best shareholders might manage to get half the $14 bln value implied by the cost and other benefits HPE is touting. But even that’s a stretch.

India

India's $120 bln of bad debt is ripe for picking

25 May 2016

Global funds such as KKR and J.C. Flowers are eyeing stressed assets. Indian authorities are pressuring lenders to acknowledge bad loans and, in turn, raise capital. A new bankruptcy code helps too. After years of false starts, India’s bad debt business could finally take off.

An Uber car in Los Angeles, California, July 15, 2015.

Toyota, VW jump on cartech desperation bandwagon

24 May 2016

The Japanese automaker’s deal with Uber and its German rival’s with Gett come after GM invested in Lyft and Fiat Chrysler hooked up with Google. Each can learn from the other, but the technologists see opportunity while the manufacturers have more to fear about their fate.

Features

Gina Chon

Lockheed-Boeing rocket JV feels competitive heat

25 May 2016

Elon Musk’s SpaceX just broke the monopoly on military satellite launches enjoyed by the defense contractors’ alliance. Congress may help the pricey venture by allowing it to buy more sanctions-tainted Russian rocket engines. That’d be a strike against efficiency and innovation.

Columns

Rob Cox

Cox: The other European referendum to fret over

24 May 2016

While the world obsesses over Brexit, another perilous plebiscite looms in October. Italy’s leader has dangerously staked the future of his leadership over a constitutional reform vote. Its failure would present huge risks to Europe’s economy and global capital markets.

Edward Chancellor

Chancellor: UK housing crisis isn't supply problem

17 May 2016

British home prices are higher than ever relative to incomes. But nosebleed values aren’t a sign of inadequate supply. It’s all about ultra-low interest rates and foreign capital flows. When Chinese capital flows reverse, the London property bubble will burst.