Jeff Mason is a White House Correspondent for Reuters and the 2016-2017 president of the White House Correspondents’ Association. He was the lead Reuters correspondent for President Barack Obama's 2012 campaign and interviewed the president at the White House in 2015. Jeff has been based in Washington since 2008, when he covered the historic race between Obama, Hillary Clinton and John McCain. Jeff started his career in Frankfurt, Germany, where he covered the airline industry before moving to Brussels, Belgium, where he covered the European Union. He is a Colorado native, proud graduate of Northwestern University and former Fulbright scholar.
Twitter handle: @jeffmason1
LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - U.S. President Donald Trump’s whistle-stop visit to the Gulf has emboldened Saudi Arabia to settle an old score. The kingdom and its closest allies have cut ties with Qatar and accused the gas-rich sheikdom of supporting terrorism and sidling up to Iran. It is a dramatic escalation to a lingering feud in a region that meets a fifth of world oil supply.
LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - Glencore has fought hard for a lean balance sheet. Now it has one, it can keep things simple and give more money to shareholders, or binge on an acquisition. A merger approach to U.S. agricultural trader Bunge suggests Chief Executive Ivan Glasenberg favours the latter, somewhat riskier course of action. Such boldness could leave investors going hungry.
LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - BP has almost recovered from its near-death experience in the Gulf of Mexico. The oil giant’s earnings almost tripled in the first quarter, helped by favourable oil prices and higher output. Even its hefty debt pile looks manageable provided it keeps production flowing. After seven years of pain, deliverance may be within reach.
LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - A potential swoop on part of Swedish tissue and forestry products manufacturer SCA would be nothing for investors to cry about. A group of buyout firms has bid 200 billion Swedish crowns ($22.3 billion) for the company’s hygiene arm, Essity, which pulps Scandinavian trees into products ranging from baby diapers to bandages, newspaper Dagens Nyheter reported on Wednesday. Even if an offer proves soggy, it’s an example of how a breakup can open up new options for shareholders.
LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - Elliott Advisors’ plan to unlock more value from BHP Billiton has some merits. Tidying up and then breaking up could make shareholders in the Anglo-Australian miner roughly 50 percent better off, the activist investor argues. Elliott isn’t saying anything BHP hadn’t already considered, and a full split looks a stretch – but it may prompt a helpful spring clean.
LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - Crude oil prices spiked after U.S. missiles rained down on Syria. The fear isn't that military intervention could disrupt supplies but that Iran, which has been boosting output, will retaliate. Even if that scenario unfolds, though, the market's response looks excessive.
LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - Saudi Arabia has hit on a cheap way to spruce up the odds for its big oil producer’s initial public offering: cut its taxes. The move should deliver a sizeable uplift on Aramco’s value as it prepares to sell around 5 percent of the state-owned company to outside investors in an IPO. But it need not be a big drain on Saudi’s finances.
LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - Glencore Chief Executive Ivan Glasenberg’s next challenge will be keeping his acquisitive instincts under control. The mining and commodities giant has recovered from its near-death experience a year and half ago. Net debt has halved to $15.5 billion and buoyant prices mean the group is once again generating mountains of cash. Resisting the urge to spend it on buying more assets is the serial dealmaker’s biggest task.
LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - JPMorgan and Morgan Stanley have been handed the keys to the kingdom. The U.S. investment banks are poised to lead the underwriting of Aramco's $100 billion share offering. The prized mandate has the potential to propel both to the top of investment banking league tables and unlock a stream of future work as Saudi Arabia reforms its economy and sells off its large inventory of state assets. An IPO flop, however, could be fatal for the banks' local franchises.
LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - Mining's traumatic downturn is still fresh in the memories of BHP Billiton and Anglo American, despite their improved performance in 2016. Rising commodities prices and aggressive cost-cutting helped both companies to boost earnings and cut debt. But another investment splurge or borrowing binge is unlikely. Financial prudence remains the priority.