Edition:
United States

Christopher Swann

Bland Lagarde will escape the Bretton Woods curse

Aug 28 2014

The IMF chief is under investigation for signing off on a 403 million euro payout to a French tycoon. Her predecessor DSK and former World Bank boss Wolfowitz were both ousted for misconduct. Christine Lagarde, though, has few enemies. Being dull may prove her saving grace.

Dynegy’s $6.25 bln grab marks return of ambition

Aug 22 2014

The U.S. power company once tried to buy Enron and eventually went bust after a spat with activist Carl Icahn. Two years out of bankruptcy, Dynegy is roughly doubling its business with two deals. They look sensible, but the lesson from the past is to avoid getting carried away.

Venezuela digs way to distressed seller status

Aug 14 2014

The country wants to offload Citgo, its U.S. refinery and pipelines unit. It may be worth up to $15 bln, money that’s sorely needed thanks to President Nicolas Maduro’s barmy economic policies. And the drop in value of heavy-oil assets like Citgo owns makes it a bad time to sell.

Kinder Morgan’s large-number solution: get bigger

Aug 11 2014

Energy boss Richard Kinder’s master class in financial engineering is back in session with $71 bln of deals to unite his sprawling pipeline empire. Various partnerships had reached a scale that was limiting returns. The new structure should benefit everyone but Uncle Sam.

REITs and MLPs make tax inversions a diversion

Jul 31 2014

U.S. authorities are letting Windstream call its telecom cables real estate, qualifying them for tax breaks. And a partnership will shield Hess assets from the IRS. Politicians, though, are indignant over firms that move overseas – even when home-grown tax loopholes are costlier.

If only Argentine economy matched soccer success

Jul 13 2014

The nation’s strong World Cup showing reflects astute management of its big fan base and valuable on-field talent. That contrasts with a 100-year record of wasting its human and natural resources. Avoiding policy own-goals could one day make Argentina an economic champion, too.

Soros takes sub-quantum leap into activism

Jun 27 2014

His $29 bln hedge fund has famously confronted governments. But facing off with a U.S. oil and gas company is novel. Whether a test of a new – and recently profitable – strategy or a sign of change at the family firm, it gives underperforming bosses another scourge to fear.

Elon Musk applies his magic touch to M&A

Jun 18 2014

The $350 mln acquisition of panel maker Silevo added $900 mln to SolarCity’s market value. It’s an investment in an efficient technology and a hedge against rising import tariffs. Manufacturing, however, is the riskiest part of solar. And Musk is a more proven builder than buyer.

What Lagarde should’ve told Smith College’s grads

May 14 2014

The fund’s boss wimped out of speaking at the women’s college’s commencement after a petition accused the IMF of supporting “patriarchal systems.” That critique is old hat. Lagarde’s IMF has fostered social spending and female rights. Here’s what she ought to have said.

Stanford’s snub to coal typical of Silicon Valley

May 08 2014

The black rock is an easy target for the university’s $18.7 bln endowment. Yet shouldn’t the principle behind it apply equally to oil producers, even local titan and Stanford donor Chevron? Like some of its grads, the university seems willing to shun certain evils only so far.

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