DAVOS, Switzerland (Reuters Breakingviews) - Banks are feeling the heat of global warming in Davos. Climate change is the dominant topic at this year’s elite gathering in the Swiss mountain resort, and financial institutions are firmly in the spotlight. Fund management giant BlackRock’s pledge to vote against directors of companies that aren’t taking enough action may force some to make changes. But demands by regulators that banks manage the risks of a warmer planet will have more bite.
LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - The battle over Santander’s CEO has given human shape to banking’s fault line. It’s a year since Ana Botin, the Spanish lender’s chairman, reversed her decision to make UBS executive Andrea Orcel the group’s next boss. In the coming months his 112 million euro lawsuit threatens to highlight the clash of cultures between retail and wholesale lending.
LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - European companies are limbering up for a Japanese-style foreign takeover binge. A shrinking domestic market and super-low borrowing costs spurred firms in Asia’s second-largest economy to pursue ever-bigger overseas targets. Now their European Union counterparts, facing similar challenges at home, are poised to follow suit. Expect the likes of Germany’s Siemens, Italy’s Eni and banks such as BNP Paribas and ING to push further into faster-growing markets as 2020 kicks off.
LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - Don’t subscribe now! At least not to the idea of the subscription economy. It’s not just streaming TV services chasing steadily paying customers. Wine sellers, food delivery outfits and even Swedish furniture giant Ikea want them, too. Buyers can only spend and consume so much, though.
LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - Britain will soon know what Boris Johnson’s pledge to “get Brexit done” actually means. The UK Conservative Party is bound for a large parliamentary majority, according to an exit poll released as voting closed in Thursday’s general election. That will allow Britain to quit the European Union three and a half years after voters narrowly opted to leave. The prime minister’s policy ambitions, however, remain a black box.
LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - Britons are facing another big electoral choice. For the third time in less than four years, voters heading to the polls are confronted with an existential decision. In 2016 they opted narrowly to leave the European Union, tipping the country into a political crisis from which it has yet to emerge. Less than a year later they deepened the turmoil by stripping Prime Minister Theresa May of her majority. Now they must decide whether to give her Conservative party successor, Boris Johnson, a mandate to finish the job. The outcome of the dispiriting contest has big implications for relations with the EU, but also for companies, financial markets, fiscal policy and the future shape of the United Kingdom.
LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - Hong Kong is conducting a real-time experiment: What are the minimum conditions for a functioning financial centre? Months of increasingly violent clashes between protesters and police have challenged some of the strengths that make it Asia’s foremost international hub.
LISBON (Reuters Breakingviews) - It’s a good thing they serve wine with lunch at Web Summit, the gargantuan technology bash held in Lisbon each year. Some exhibits are hard to fathom with a sober lens. The gathering held last week featured an almost full-size boxing ring inviting startup founders to deliver a “knockout pitch” to investors against the clock. Nearby was a mountable plastic unicorn on a raisable plinth that lifted riders above the 70,000-odd assembled investors, entrepreneurs and hangers-on.
MILAN/LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - LVMH will need more than Hollywood stardust to extract value from its $15 billion bid for Tiffany & Co. Investors in the jeweller lauded by Audrey Hepburn in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” are hoping for a higher offer after Bernard Arnault’s luxury conglomerate submitted a proposal worth $120 a share. But the deal will require a lot of polish if it is to make sense for the French company’s shareholders.
LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - A general election is the answer. That’s what Britain’s deadlocked parliament concluded on Tuesday evening when it decided to call a national ballot in December. Less clear is the question voters are supposed to be answering. Politicians hoping for direction on Brexit may once again be confounded.