United Kingdom

Alec Macfarlane

Breakingviews - CEO exit leaves HSBC with worrying gap at the top

05 Aug 2019

HONG KONG (Reuters Breakingviews) - John Flint’s abrupt departure from HSBC leaves a worrying gap at the top. The veteran banker has parted company with the Asia-focused lender after a mere 18 months at the helm, with little explanation. Given mounting uncertainty in key markets, it's a poor time to be adding more.

Breakingviews - The Exchange: China’s unicorn squeeze

05 Aug 2019

HONG KONG (Reuters Breakingviews) - Mainland startups are under pressure, as once-plentiful funds dry up. Jixun Foo, managing partner at GGV Capital and a backer of tech giants like Didi Chuxing, discusses with Alec Macfarlane why the drop-off in financing could ultimately benefit investors.

Breakingviews - Macquarie is both target and role model on pay

24 Jul 2019

HONG KONG (Reuters Breakingviews) - Macquarie is an unlikely target for pay reform. Australia’s so-called millionaire factory is caught in the middle of a wider debate about how financial services firms pay their executives. The prudential regulator is cracking down on remuneration at big banks and insurers, and a group of shareholders is threatening to vote against Macquarie’s remuneration at Thursday’s annual general meeting. That’s odd, because in some senses Macquarie is a role model.

Breakingviews - AB InBev’s deal machine goes into smart reverse

19 Jul 2019

HONG KONG (Reuters Breakingviews) - Anheuser-Busch InBev’s deal machine is going into a smart reverse. The Belgian brewer’s sale of its Australian business to Asahi for $11.3 billion will cut debt. The Japanese company is paying a lower valuation for the maker of Victoria Bitter than AB InBev wanted from an initial public offering of its Asia business, shelved last week, but probably higher than the multiple investors ascribed to the unit. It keeps the door open for boss Carlos Brito to try again.

Breakingviews - Morgan Stanley’s Asian crown gets Bud-shaped dent

15 Jul 2019

HONG KONG (Reuters Breakingviews) - Morgan Stanley’s Asian crown just got a Budweiser-shaped dent. Along with JPMorgan, the U.S. bank was joint sponsor of AB InBev’s now-scrapped listing of its Asia unit, which was intended to raise $9.8 billion. The setback takes the shine off its local league-table pre-eminence.

Breakingviews - UBS sets a troubling precedent in China

17 Jun 2019

HONG KONG (Reuters Breakingviews) - UBS has set a troublesome precedent in China. The Swiss bank put a senior economist on leave after misconstrued comments triggered outrage in the mainland. The episode hints at new pressures for outsiders working in China; excessive subservience, however, creates bigger headaches.

Breakingviews - Viewsroom: Hong Kong's scary extradition idea

06 Jun 2019

HONG KONG (Reuters Breakingviews) - The territory's government, under pressure from Beijing, is trying to ram through a rule change that would allow suspects to be transferred to mainland courts. Foreign executives have cause to be worried. Plus: Steve Bannon wants to ban Chinese IPOs from New York.

Breakingviews - Thrice-ditched Aussie telco has its work cut out

05 Jun 2019

HONG KONG (Reuters Breakingviews) - Three dropped calls sends a bad message. Swedish buyout firm EQT Infrastructure has ditched its toppy $2.3 billion offer for Vocus Group barely a week after getting access to the Australian telecoms operator's books. The news prompted a 20% fall in the company’s share price on Wednesday. It’s the third financial buyer to walk away in quick succession, and casts doubt on the target’s efforts to integrate multiple acquisitions. New boss Kevin Russell must now find a way to dial up confidence.

Breakingviews - Apple supplier’s rescue leaves Japan red-faced

15 Apr 2019

HONG KONG (Reuters Breakingviews) - Japan Display’s rescue is an embarrassing necessity for Tokyo. An investor group is buying two thirds of the company for up to 80 billion yen ($714 million), a lowball price for the former national champion. It will fall into foreign hands, some of them Chinese, which could raise red flags. Yet managers have little choice but to pray the deal closes.

Breakingviews - Citic and CLSA will survive boss departure

20 Mar 2019

HONG KONG (Reuters Breakingviews) - CLSA will survive the departure of its bosses. Jonathan Slone is quitting, shortly after its chairman left. The moves have led to whispers of a culture clash with China’s Citic Securities, which bought the Hong Kong brokerage for $1.3 billion in 2013. Bank mergers are always challenging. Still, it’s too early to write this one off.

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