Alec Macfarlane, ReutersBreakingviews

Alec Macfarlane


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Recent articles by Alec:

Meituan Dianping gets better at multi-tasking – Breakingviews

The $50 bln delivery-to-ride-hailing giant’s takeaway unit is expected to post its first profitable quarter on Friday, as it gets better at juggling multiple businesses. It has scaled down a costly bike sharing venture, while a push into groceries and maps plays to its strengths. → Read More

It is too soon to call a bottom on Baidu – Breakingviews

Despite a 62% decline in quarterly profit, the $36 bln Chinese internet company gave investors something to cheer with unexpected growth in video. Its main search business is hurting, though, and the ad outlook is weak. ByteDance and Meituan Dianping are coming for Baidu, too. → Read More

J.C. Flowers’ Japan sale marks timely end of era – Breakingviews

The U.S. firm, once called a “vulture” by local press, is selling most of its stake in Shinsei Bank after 19 years. With Japanese lenders staggering, cashing out now of what has overall been a lucrative deal makes sense. Foreign funds owe Flowers for giving them a better name. → Read More

Asia sale can give Aviva revamp a timely boost – Breakingviews

The UK insurer is reviewing its future in the east. New boss Maurice Tulloch wants to cut costs and debt. Selling the subscale division, worth as much as $4 bln, is a step in the right direction. Local firms like FWD are keen to consolidate, which should guarantee a good price. → Read More

Masa could do with more Buffett at SoftBank – Breakingviews

Quarterly net profit rose 259% on a big stake sale, but operating income fell. More stable cashflows at Masayoshi Son’s group barely cover loan interest. SoftBank is likened to Berkshire Hathaway, which has steadier income from duller companies. That may be worth emulating. → Read More

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

John Flint has parted company with the Asia-focused lender after 18 months at the helm. The abrupt exit of a veteran banker overshadows decent earnings and a $1 bln buyback. Given mounting uncertainty around Brexit, a trade war and Hong Kong, it's a bad time to be adding more. → Read More

Victor Li is a half mark up on Hong Kong’s tycoons – Breakingviews

Political unrest is a threat to top conglomerates with a big focus on the Fragrant Harbour. Earnings at Li’s CK Hutchison put a spotlight on the group’s shift away from the territory. Global growth is slowing and currencies are volatile, but a diversified bet still looks better. → Read More

Chinese IPOs get a red card from foreign investors – Breakingviews

Wanda Sports raised $190 mln in a downsized New York listing, following DouYu and other companies that have shelved or valued offers cheaply due to poor demand. The U.S.-China trade war is making buyers wary of mainland issuers, and better returns can be found elsewhere. → Read More

Macquarie is both target and role model on pay – Breakingviews

Aussie watchdogs are cracking down on bank remuneration, and a group of shareholders plans to contest Macquarie’s pay at this year’s shareholder meeting. That’s odd, because Macquarie’s practices are pretty sensible – and its rewards pale versus poorer performers on Wall Street. → Read More

Asahi Aussie deal passes all but one sobriety test – Breakingviews

The Japanese brewer is buying AB InBev’s Australian unit for $11 bln. It’s a highly profitable business that ticks lots of boxes for Asahi, but justifying the price requires clever cost savings. Asahi will have to take a more proactive approach than usual to make the deal work. → Read More

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

The brewer’s sale of its Aussie unit to Asahi for $11 bln will cut debt. The Japanese are paying a valuation less than AB InBev wanted from its botched Asia IPO but probably more than investors ascribed to the unit. It keeps the door open for boss Carlos Brito to try again. → Read More

Lufax sounds Beijing death knell for peer lenders – Breakingviews

China’s top peer-to-peer lender plans to exit the sector, the most telling sign yet that a regulatory crackdown could kill the industry. The Ping An unit and one-time IPO candidate can fall back on money management and other forms of lending. Rivals may be less lucky. → Read More

SoftBank’s robotics IPO faces a reality check – Breakingviews

China’s CloudMinds, 35% owned by Masayoshi Son’s Vision Fund, is seeking $500 mln in a U.S. float. The loss-making robot startup reckons AI-powered androids are tomorrow’s cleaners. It’s a tough sell in the real world, where most Chinese tech floats this year are now underwater. → Read More

Czech lender’s Hong Kong IPO braves Bud hangover – Breakingviews

Home Credit’s float may value it at over 10 billion euros. The lender offers rapid growth and a focus on the Chinese consumer. But after AB InBev’s fail, the mooted valuation could be seen as toppy given both pluses could yet turn into minuses. → Read More

Alibaba stock should have local staying power – Breakingviews

The New York-listed Chinese e-commerce titan may raise up to $20 bln in Hong Kong. Investors should be able to trade the shares between exchanges. So-called two-way fungibility has cost the Asian market liquidity in the past, but Alibaba’s regional appeal could be an exception. → Read More

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

The Wall Street bank, along with JPMorgan, led AB InBev’s now-scrapped $9.8 bln listing of its Asia unit. The bankers either misread the market, or caved into the clients’ pricing demands. Either way, it takes the shine off Morgan Stanley’s local league-table pre-eminence. → Read More

Budweiser’s IPO swagger turns into a drunk stumble – Breakingviews

AB InBev delayed pricing a $9.8 bln listing of its Asia unit, hinting at poor demand for the year’s biggest float. Boss Carlos Brito and his bankers didn’t leave room for manoeuvre, setting a punchy price range and shunning cornerstone investors. The result is an early hangover. → Read More

Wanda’s Ironman IPO could lose a little weight – Breakingviews

The triathlon-to-soccer arm of tycoon Wang Jianlin’s empire plans a $500 mln U.S. listing. China's legions of fans and the prospect of the 2022 Olympics in Beijing will be a draw. But a share sale eases only some of its debt load; less burdened rivals may beat it to the finish. → Read More

KKR puts fresh eyes on Japanese conglomerates – Breakingviews

Just two years after buying Hitachi Kokusai for $2.2 bln, the LBO shop is selling one of its two units for the same sum. Japan Inc has been slow to offload unloved businesses, but deals like this reveal some of the missing value. It could also make it harder for bargain hunters. → Read More

Budweiser serves up a pricey pint in Hong Kong – Breakingviews

AB InBev values its Asian unit at up to $65 bln, or about 20 times EBITDA. That’s close to multiples of rivals in fast-growing emerging markets like China, but half the business is in slower, more mature ones. The IPO will seem less giddy if Carlos Brito pours on M&A next. → Read More