LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - Auditors could soon be paid like bankers. Just not in the way that they might hope. The big four firms – Deloitte, Ernst & Young, KPMG and PwC – have all been chastened for their roles in embarrassing financial scandals like Germany’s Wirecard. Remedies like breakups or dual audits might better root out fraud. But a simpler and faster change would come from docking pay.
LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - AstraZeneca’s approach to rival Gilead Sciences is a puzzle for shareholders, but also a warning. Chief Executive Pascal Soriot has done well for the $140 billion drugmaker’s investors. The risk is that the company’s debt load, or his bigger ambitions, threaten that record.
KILLALOE, Ireland (Reuters Breakingviews) - The tower of toilet paper grazed the roof of Killaloe’s SuperValu, in Ireland’s County Clare. To a weary traveller just arrived from London, where essentials like hand sanitiser and baby formula were nowhere to be found, it was a beacon of hope. It turns out the treasure trove was not unique to the west of Ireland. Grocery shops throughout the Emerald Isle were fully stocked, having doubled their warehouse capacity in anticipation of Britain’s departure from the European Union.
LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - Vegan businesses could be headed for leaner times. Meat substitutes are currently enjoying a spectacular boom driven by changes in tastes and problems in meat providers’ supply chains. It may not last.
LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - There’s room at the inn. Lots of it. U.S. hotels say they bled $1.4 billion a week during the Great Lockdown. A wind-down of travel restrictions and social distancing will ease some pain. But hoteliers globally need to prepare for a year or more of radically reduced occupancy – and losses. This will benefit well-known brands with big balance sheets like Accor and Hilton Worldwide. Pity the little guy.
LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - Friedrich Nietzsche famously argued: “That which does not kill us, makes us stronger.” If the German philosopher could peruse social media in the coronavirus era, he might change his view.
LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - Holding back rent is normally a sure-fire way to get evicted. Not so for large retailers like Primark, who have been forced to shut their doors as a result of a government-imposed lockdown caused by the coronavirus. With major tenants withholding rent, landlords as diverse as private equity giant Blackstone, UK real estate investment trust British Land and its troubled domestic peer Intu Properties may soon find they have limited bargaining power.
LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - Philip Green made corporate history in 2005 when the British retail tycoon paid his wife a 1.2 billion pound dividend. So, it’s no surprise that “Greed” opens with a dramatised version of that event. The movie’s loathsome fictional villain dodging taxes and destroying high street businesses, Sir Richard McCreadie, is a barely disguised caricature of the Topshop owner. Director Michael Winterbottom’s real target, though, is the wider fashion industry.
LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - Unity is easier to talk about than to achieve. Sinn Fein, the former political arm of the Irish Republican Army, wants to form a coalition government after its surprisingly strong showing in Ireland’s Feb. 8 elections. Its even more ambitious aspiration is to hold a referendum on uniting the republic with Northern Ireland. Reversing the partition of nearly a century ago would saddle Irish taxpayers with a big bill. But that’s not the biggest hurdle to unification.
LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - Boris Johnson has given foreign investors in the UK a reason to feel less jittery. On Tuesday the UK prime minister approved the so-called High Speed 2 (HS2) project, following a government review. Together with another key recent call on Chinese telecoms firm Huawei Technologies, it implies that the government tasked with delivering Brexit is not incapable of identifying least-bad strategic options.