World Bank has a shareholder-engagement problem

LONDON ( Breakingviews) – Economic heft often equates to political clout. But pandering too much to big powers can have negative repercussions, as the World Bank is discovering. The multilateral lender’s leaders, including then-Chief Executive Kristalina Georgieva, in 2017 applied pressure on staff to boost China’s ranking in a report on the ease of doing business, according to an independent investigation published on Thursday. Georgieva, now head of the International Monetary Fund, said she disagreed…

"World Bank has a shareholder-engagement problem"

Federer’s sneaker IPO sets blistering pace

LONDON ( Breakingviews) – On has burst out of the IPO blocks at a blistering pace. Shares of the Roger Federer-backed Swiss sneaker company popped 50% on debut in New York on Wednesday, giving it an $11 billion valuation. With plenty of rivals on its heels and potential political headwinds in China, it may be priced for a sprint, not a marathon. The tennis maestro bought a stake in the 11-year-old company two years ago.…

"Federer’s sneaker IPO sets blistering pace"

Ryanair throws down consolidation gauntlet

(The author is a Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are their own. Refiles to add a link.) LONDON ( Breakingviews) – Michael O’Leary is cranking up the mind-games. A week after easyJet asked shareholders for 1.2 billion pounds to bolster its balance sheet and revealed a spurned takeover approach, the chief executive of arch-rival Ryanair is laying out his plans for domination of Europe’s skies. The Irishman on Thursday raised his long-term passenger forecasts by 12.5%,…

"Ryanair throws down consolidation gauntlet"

Goldman fintech deal serves borrowers on a plate

NEW YORK ( Breakingviews) – Back when Goldman Sachs was the vampire squid of the financial world, few would have guessed it would end up financing hair replacements and kitchen renovations. The $2.2 billion acquisition of GreenSky, a buy-now-pay-later specialist, takes boss David Solomon’s firm in a new direction. Like most fintech deals, though, it’s really a novel way of doing an old thing. GreenSky brings Goldman something all banks want: borrowers on a plate.…

"Goldman fintech deal serves borrowers on a plate"

Grab hints at Southeast Asia’s economic pain

(The author is a Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are their own.) HONG KONG ( Breakingviews) – Southeast Asia’s pandemic reality may be finally catching up to Grab. The company, whose merger with a blank-cheque company is expected to close in the fourth quarter, pared back its full-year forecasts, with adjusted net sales now expected to be $2.1 billion to $2.2 billion, down from the $2.3 billion projected in April . It also cut its…

"Grab hints at Southeast Asia’s economic pain"

Ant may find it easy to move on after breakup

HONG KONG ( Breakingviews) – Breaking up is hard to do, but China’s Ant may be able to move on quickly. Beijing wants Jack Ma’s financial technology giant to separate its payments, credit scoring and lending businesses, and is diluting it with assorted government investors. But these stakeholders might be friendly, and the loan operation looks to get a wider business remit. Officials have imposed a sweeping restructuring of Ant since derailing its initial public…

"Ant may find it easy to move on after breakup"

Fake Walmart-Litecoin news cries for regulation

(The author is a Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are their own. Refiles to fix dateline.) WASHINGTON ( Breakingviews) – It’s hard to know what’s legitimate in the anything-goes world of cryptocurrencies. The latest example is a fake press release sent on Monday in which Walmart purportedly announced it will be accepting litecoin, a bitcoin spinoff. The lesser known digital asset’s value shot up by more than 30% after some media outlets reported the phony…

"Fake Walmart-Litecoin news cries for regulation"

Mini-Salesforce puts mighty multiple in $9 billion IPO

NEW YORK ( Breakingviews) – Marc Benioff’s $252 billion Salesforce.com is a giant among giants. But the initial public offering of Freshworks, a much smaller software firm seeking a $9 billion market capitalization in an upcoming float, might be bigger in one way: its valuation. It shows how small things can pack a mighty punch. Freshworks, like Salesforce, helps businesses manage customers as a so-called software as a service company. Smaller organizations, like the Los…

"Mini-Salesforce puts mighty multiple in $9 billion IPO"

UK takes friendly fire in latest vaccine spat

(The author is a Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are their own.) LONDON ( Breakingviews) – The UK has blown up one of its potential Covid-19 vaccine success stories. French pharmaceutical group Valneva on Monday said the British government had cancelled a deal worth up to 1.4 billion euros, claiming the company is in breach of its supply agreement. Only in February Britain ordered an extra 40 million doses of Valneva’s promising Covid-19 drug, which…

"UK takes friendly fire in latest vaccine spat"

Chancellor: Tech growth comes at irrational price

LONDON ( Breakingviews) – So overwhelming is the desire to find the next Alphabet, Amazon.com or Facebook that investors are chasing growth at any price. Just about any software company offering cloud-based services now commands a nosebleed valuation. The discount rates by which these enterprises are valued make no sense. By buying loss-making businesses at exorbitant price tags, however, investors set themselves up for extraordinary losses. Technology bubbles tend to form when investors project the…

"Chancellor: Tech growth comes at irrational price"