LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - Nestlé’s stake in L’Oréal looks ready for a makeover. The death of Liliane Bettencourt, whose family is the French cosmetics group’s largest shareholder, will revive the debate about the Nescafé owner’s 23 percent stake. Offloading it is the best solution. Putting 24 billion euros of value to better use could become Nestlé Chief Executive Ulf Mark Schneider’s big challenge.
LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - Rupert Murdoch’s 1969 acquisition of the Sun marked the start of his assault on the cloistered world of British newspapers. “Ink”, James Graham’s play set in the year after the tycoon invaded Fleet Street, deftly traces the origins of the hyper-aggressive press culture that would eventually lead to a phone-hacking scandal and the demise of the News of World tabloid. Though Murdoch’s populist media revolution continues, it’s his own empire that is now at risk of d
HONG KONG (Reuters Breakingviews) - China's central bank has ordered lenders to halt business with North Korean clients, Reuters reports. Tightening Chinese sanctions on the secretive regime are starting to show signs of economic effect, but Kim Jong Un's volley of missiles tests continues. Half-hearted cooperation between presidents Xi Jinping and Donald Trump is no credible deterrent, alas. The risk of real violence, instigated by a weak and reckless U.S. president, is rising.
NEW YORK (Reuters Breakingviews) - Chancellor Angela Merkel and her Christian Democrats should win more votes than rivals. But they’ll need coalition partners to form a government. Choosing among them promises to be a nail-biter. Also: the Toys R Us bankruptcy won’t be a total loss for its private-equity owners.
WASHINGTON (Reuters Breakingviews) - The Securities and Exchange Commission’s failure to respond properly to hacks into its systems puts U.S. cyber security on the back foot. Unlike the breach at credit-grading agency Equifax, the watchdog’s woes don’t put people’s data at risk. It’s the clumsy way it is dealing with the aftermath that’s the problem.
LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - Talk of cross-border banking M&A is back. UniCredit is interested in merging with Commerzbank, Reuters reported. BNP Paribas is also said to be a potential partner for the German lender. But international banking deals are complicated, political, and have modest economic benefits. The Italian lender could make a case for tying-up with its 14 billion euro Teutonic peer, but closing a deal may be tricky.
HONG KONG (Reuters Breakingviews) - HTC is embracing an alternative reality. The ailing Taiwanese group is offloading part of its handset unit to Google for $1.1 billion. This will free up HTC to focus more on its risky but promising virtual reality business, where it is winning market share. Deeper ties with the U.S. giant might also help fend off rivals like Sony and Facebook.
WASHINGTON (Reuters Breakingviews) - The Federal Reserve is sailing into uncharted waters. The U.S. central bank will start shrinking its $4.5 trillion balance sheet next month. The timing is risky, with lawmakers set to spar again over government funding and the debt ceiling. The Fed’s portfolio downsizing will also cut the nearly $92 billion it sent to Treasury last year, adding to budget pressures.
LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - ThyssenKrupp Chief Executive Heinrich Hiesinger is finally getting real on steel. More than two centuries after Friedrich Krupp started making cast steel in Germany’s Ruhr region, the industrial group is backing out of the industry. The historic joint venture with Indian rival Tata Steel unshackles it from a fickle, capital-intensive business which for years has been struggling to earn its cost of capital. It can pay ThyssenKrupp dividends on four levels.
TOKYO (Reuters Breakingviews) - South Korea's President Moon Jae-in has a bright future with Cirque du Soleil, if he can keep balance on the world's thinnest diplomatic high wire. So far his attempts to juggle competing demands from Beijing and Washington aren't paying off. Both are using the North Korean crisis to score trade concessions. Moon should get off the high wire and pursue a third way: teaming up with Japan and other Asian powers.
Reuters Breakingviews is the world's leading source of agenda-setting financial insight. As the Reuters brand for financial commentary, we dissect the big business and economic stories as they break around the world every day. A global team of about 30 correspondents in New York, London, Hong Kong and other major cities provides expert analysis in real time. Sign up for a free trial of our full service at http://www.breakingviews.com/trial and follow us on Twitter @Breakingviews and at www.breakingviews.com. All opinions expressed are those of the authors.