|Bid||0.0000 x 0|
|Ask||0.0000 x 0|
|Day's Range||4.1000 - 4.1700|
|52 Week Range||3.8000 - 4.8100|
|Beta (3Y Monthly)||0.31|
|PE Ratio (TTM)||9.22|
|Forward Dividend & Yield||0.62 (14.94%)|
|1y Target Est||N/A|
Shares in French rail group Alstom fell as much as 7 per cent on Thursday after its largest shareholder Bouygues sold down 13 per cent of the stock — or roughly half of its holding — to institutional investors. Bouygues had supported the deal and expressed disappointment following the decision but said it remained confident in the rail group’s future.
Shares of Alstom SA tumbled nearly 5% on Thursday after telecoms group Bouygues SA said it has sold a 13% stake in the French multinational group. Bouygues said it remains Alstom's main shareholder with a 14.7% stake even after that sale. Shares of Bouygues rose 0.8% in Paris.
(Bloomberg) -- The regulator who’s made a name for herself by cracking down on tech giants is about to get even more power.Margrethe Vestager was picked Tuesday by EU Commission President-elect Ursula von der Leyen to be her executive vice president in charge of the bloc’s digital affairs –- a post that will hand the Dane oversight of issues relating to artificial intelligence, big data, innovation and cybersecurity.Even more concerning for those hoping to avoid billion-dollar fines, Vestager, 51, will also keep her job as one of the most feared antitrust regulators. She squeezed huge penalties out of Apple Inc. and Google, rousing wrathful tweets from U.S. President Donald Trump. Washington’s ire only raised her own profile, making her a close-run candidate to head the EU commission and landing her with a potentially powerful role as vice president in charge of digital policy.Silicon Valley firms probably have the sense of “better the devil you know” when they see Vestager return for another five years, said Pablo Ibanez Colomo, a law professor at the London School of Economics. “They know pretty much where she comes from and know her style” of strict enforcement.While the Dane dealt coolly with criticism, claiming she didn’t deliberately target tech companies for antitrust and tax cases, she often shied away from attempts to settle investigations without fines. Being resolute won her admiration but also sparked irritation in Paris and Berlin when she blocked the Siemens AG and Alstom SA rail deal they favored. She’s spent the last few months trying to sell herself as a politician prepared to act on fears that Europe is being left behind by China and the U.S., especially on technology.One of her first acts after taking office in 2014 was to start up a stalled Google investigation that her predecessor had come under fire for trying to settle. The Alphabet Inc. unit had to hand over 8.2 billion euros ($9.1 billion) in fines for three probes, make changes that saw it start charging for its Android phone software in Europe and alter shopping ads. It still faces the risk of more fines from fresh investigations and complaints it isn’t complying with existing antitrust orders.Vestager’s new post lets her move beyond the limits of antitrust enforcement, often criticized for ordering too few changes too late to help less powerful rivals. She’s paid close attention to how internet platforms host smaller companies they also compete with, an issue for Amazon.com Inc. in a probe the EU opened in July and also the subject of complaints targeting Apple Inc. and Google.Her work is “not an attack on businesses, this is an attempt for democracy to shape our society,” she told reporters on Tuesday. She described her new role as helping to plug gaps identified by antitrust investigations, pointing to recent rules that allow small companies to get answers from internet platforms if they think they are being treated unfairly. The measures appear to target issues raised by the EU’s Google probes.“That is a kind of regulation that you might see more of,” she said. “We had the insight from the specific cases but that insight will also lead you to consider more regulation.”Vestager will take over as digital chief at a time when the European Commission is coordinating the bloc’s 5G security, grappling with what role Huawei Technologies Co. should play in the build-out of the infrastructure, as the U.S. urges Europe to block the Chinese telecom giant in spite of the risks posed by angering an important trade partner.France’s Sylvie Goulard, picked as internal market commissioner, will work more directly on defining standards for 5G mobile and next-generation networks, cybersecurity rules and response strategies, along with leading industrial and defense policy.Von der Leyen told Vestager to coordinate work on an EU approach on the ethical implications of AI within the first 100 days of the mandate and look at ways to share non-personal big data. She must also coordinate work to find international agreement on a tax on digital companies by the end of 2020 or to propose a fair European levy. And to deal with fears that China unfairly undercuts European firms, she has been told to tackle the distortion of foreign state ownership and subsidies.Vestager and other commission nominees face hearings in early October at the European Parliament before lawmakers vote on their posts.“She will be very positively seen and she’s intelligent and smart enough” to win over lawmakers, said Andreas Schwab, a German member of the parliament.(Adds comments from law professor and Vestager starting in fourth paragraph.)\--With assistance from Lyubov Pronina.To contact the reporters on this story: Aoife White in Brussels at email@example.com;Natalia Drozdiak in Brussels at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Giles Turner at email@example.com, Peter ChapmanFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Margrethe Vestager, famous for slapping vast fines on the likes of Apple Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google during her tenure as the European Union’s top antitrust official, has been given the chance to do it all over again. She’s been handed the same job in Ursula von der Leyen’s proposed European Commission.Lest it be seen as some kind of consolation prize for missing out on the top job of president (which went to von der Leyen), Vestager has also been awarded the title of executive vice president in charge of coordinating the bloc’s digital strategy. That’s a huge job that goes beyond market abuse and into standard-setting on data protection, AI ethics and mobile networks.It’s a wise appointment that will please those who see the fight against the monopolizing powers of Silicon Valley and Seattle as being at the heart of any sensible European technology strategy. Vestager herself says the two issues of who gets to own our data and fair competition must go hand in hand, something that will spook those who were hoping for a more pliant approach from Brussels.Her hard line has caused plenty of anguish across the Atlantic, infuriating U.S. President Donald Trump in particular. The EU’s probes range across Google’s job search, Facebook’s cryptocurrency project Libra, and how Amazon.com Inc. treats its vendors.The reappointment is also a strong message to Vestager’s many critics inside the EU, including the French and German politicians whose favored merger of the train businesses of Alstom SA and Siemens AG was blocked by Brussels this year on competition grounds. She has proven admirably able to resist pressure from EU member states to bend her merger rules. She should be able to do so again.With a bit of luck, Vestager will be able to overcome some of the possible contradictions in her role. Her remit will include both regulating the worst excesses of the U.S.-dominated tech sector while encouraging more tech investment into the EU, much of it from American funds. This might mean, for example, beefing up Europe’s data-protection laws, such as its relatively new GDPR rules, even though intense lobbying from business has made the first implementation a mixed bag in terms of fines imposed. Vestager’s Liberal colleague Sylvie Goulard has become the EU’s internal market commissioner, which may help smooth any wrinkles.Ironically, for all the talk of Europe doubling down on its anti-Big Tech crusade with Vestager’s reappointment, this might be the point at which the EU and the U.S. finally find common cause on technology policy. After years of inaction, American authorities are falling over themselves to investigate the likes of Facebook and Google, and the U.S. presidential election campaign will probably feel the pressure from Democratic Party candidates.Given the global nature of these problems — Facebook’s Libra has triggered a worldwide pushback from central banks and politicians — it’s a good thing that American regulators have a seasoned campaigner to talk to in Brussels.To contact the author of this story: Lionel Laurent at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editor responsible for this story: James Boxell at email@example.comThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Lionel Laurent is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering Brussels. He previously worked at Reuters and Forbes.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Ever since humans first rode in an elevator more than a century ago we’ve been afraid of getting stuck in one (or worse). The related requirement that these modern marvels are serviced and upgraded regularly is pretty handy for industry leaders Otis, Kone Oyj, Schindler and Thyssenkrupp AG. The companies generate about half their elevator revenues this way, as opposed to the lower-margin sales of original equipment.In good years Otis and Kone have achieved an operating return on sales in excess of 14%. That’s decent for the industrial sector, although a competitive Chinese market has made things more difficult lately.Tough safety regulations and the need to support big teams of technicians are a natural defense against new competitors. The four companies I mentioned have locked up more than 60 percent of the elevator market. Three of them are European.(1)The decent profitability and oligopolistic industry structure are big attractions for would-be acquirers of Thyssenkrupp’s elevator unit, which the German conglomerate has put up for sale. But the big four’s dominance won’t have gone unnoticed by antitrust officials, who could play a central role in determining how any further consolidation plays out.Depending on the bidder, any political desire to build a European elevator champion may run into resistance from those who fear entrenching the power of already dominant companies (as happened when Germany’s Siemens AG and France’s Alstom SA tried to merge their rail businesses).Thyssenkrupp isn’t the only active player in the industry. United Technologies Corp.’s move to spin out its Otis elevator unit has triggered speculation that the U.S. manufacturer might also get involved in M&A. Last week, Switzerland’s Schindler denied a report that it had been targeted by its American rival. Finland’s Kone, meanwhile, is open about wanting to buy the Thyssenkrupp business, telling the Handelsblatt newspaper last week that the two companies would be “a perfect fit.”Combining Kone and the Thyssenkrupp unit would create an industry behemoth with more than 16 billion euros ($17.7 billion) of sales. Though weaker than Kone’s, Thyssenkrupp’s elevator earnings have tended to far outstrip what the unwieldy German conglomerate makes from its other businesses. Its future should be bright too.Urbanization, aging populations and more single-person households are all spurring the construction of denser, taller residential buildings, especially in Asia. China accounts for more than 60% of the world’s new elevator installations.It’s reasonable to think the Thyssenkrupp elevator business would be worth about 15 billion euros if carved out – double the value investors ascribe to the whole conglomerate today. Add a premium for potential synergies and the value could rise further. Kone and Thyssenkrupp would complement each other well: the former is stronger in China while the latter has a bigger U.S. business. And the potential procurement, research and labor force savings from a merger would surely beat any earnings improvements that a private equity buyer could deliver by itself.The big question is whether antitrust officials would agree to two of the big four elevator firms merging? It’s barely a decade since the European Union smacked the companies with almost 1 billion euros in fines for running a price-fixing cartel in several countries. Company employees rigged bids involving hospitals, the European Commision noted. Hardly a good precedent.Thyssenkrupp is burning cash and its stock has fallen more than 35% in the past year. It can ill afford to get involved in another protracted and ultimately unsuccessful antitrust review. Earlier this year Brussels blocked an attempt to combine its European steel operations with Tata Steel. Kone could sell certain assets to ease competition concerns. Still, it’s understandable that Thyssenkrupp is said to favor a partial sale to private equity, according to Bloomberg News’s Aaron Kirchfeld and colleagues. This might not realize the highest price but it’s surely the easier deal to pull off, provided trade unions can be reassured.Europe has three world-beating elevator makers. Reducing the trio to two has clear benefits for the companies. What’s in it for customers isn’t quite so obvious. (1) The maintenance business is more fragmented, however.To contact the author of this story: Chris Bryant at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editor responsible for this story: James Boxell at email@example.comThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Chris Bryant is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering industrial companies. He previously worked for the Financial Times.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
Moody's Investors Service ("Moody's") has today affirmed Alstom's Baa2 long-term issuer rating and the P-2 short-term commercial paper rating. Concurrently Moody's changed the outlook to positive from stable. The affirmation of Alstom's ratings is a reflection of the company's steady margin improvement over the last three years, its record order backlog of EUR 40 billion at the end of Q1 2019/20, the rail transportation industry's favourable growth perspectives, its solid liquidity and its well-balanced financial policy.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- If you are searching for the EU’s next bad idea, look no further than the “European Future Fund.” The 100 billion euro ($110 billion) pot, first reported in Politico, would be a way to boost strategic sectors which are seen as lagging behind China and the U.S.It’s not a formal policy plan, and the details are still scanty. But Ursula von der Leyen, the incoming president of the European Commission, would be wise to ignore the proposal. Europe needs to pool resources in other areas, starting, for example, with a fund to help euro-zone member states stabilize their economies when they face shocks. It’s best to leave most of industrial policy to national governments, making sure they do so fairly.The “European Future Fund” has been dubbed a sovereign wealth fund – except that it isn’t. The EU is not a sovereign state and will not become one for the foreseeable future. The EU would not be tapping any existing “wealth” or natural resources. A sovereign wealth fund like Norway’s – which uses income generated by its oil and gas reserves – is a way to ensure that such riches are not wasted on current spending, but invested to guarantee future prosperity. The EU would simply be using existing budget resources to create such a fund in the hope of attracting money from the private sector.Any help for Europe’s so-called strategic sectors should be handled with care. There is merit in launching joint R&D initiatives, such as the partnership France and Germany have set up to develop electric car batteries. But it is less clear why the EU should intervene to stop takeovers of individual firms by foreign companies, which seems to be at least one of the reasons to set up this fund. Does the Commission have the ability to manage a stake in a fast-growing tech firm? With what objectives? At what price will the acquisition take place? The risk is that fewer European start-ups will grow if they fear they can’t be sold to a deep-pocketed foreign rival. Take no offense, but Google can be a much more attractive buyer than any “European Future Fund.”The Commission is going at the problem the wrong way. Several member states – France and Germany in particular – have decided that the reason why Europe is not fertile ground for innovation is that companies are not allowed to develop to an adequate size to compete with rivals from China and Silicon Valley. They argue that competition policy needs updating, which is really a polite way to say it needs to be watered down. This argument is misplaced in several ways. Economic studies have found no direct relationship between how large and how innovative a business is. Moreover, the Commission rarely blocks mergers between companies that operate in similar industries. If a state wants to step in and buy a company at its market price and manage it in a competitive manner, there is no reason why it can’t.Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s departing competition commissioner, has offered some meaningful resistance to this Franco-German push, for example blocking the rail merger between Alstom SA and Siemens AG. But it’s unclear that any new commissioner, assuming she moves on to another role, will be as combative. The EU needs a strong enforcer of competition more than any lofty new fund.To contact the author of this story: Ferdinando Giugliano at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Stephanie Baker at email@example.comThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Ferdinando Giugliano writes columns on European economics for Bloomberg Opinion. He is also an economics columnist for La Repubblica and was a member of the editorial board of the Financial Times.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
This article is written for those who want to get better at using price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). To keep it...
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- To get Brooke Sutherland’s newsletter delivered directly to your inbox, sign up here.A General Electric Co. earnings release is never a straightforward event; Wednesday’s felt particularly inconclusive. Turnarounds are prone to fits and starts, and at GE, it’s apt to be a particularly long and difficult road. There was little in the latest quarter’s results to convert doubters of CEO Larry Culp’s recovery efforts into believers, and, similarly, nothing concretely terrible enough to shake supporters out of their faith. On the positive side, there were signs of stabilization in the struggling power division. The unit posted operating profit of $117 million in the quarter, down significantly from a year earlier but hey, it wasn’t a loss. Orders were up 28% on an organic basis in the gas turbine side of the business. Also, GE raised its adjusted industrial cash flow guidance and now sees the potential to actually generate as much as $1 billion for the full year. That compares with a previous call for cash flow to be at best breakeven in 2019.It’s not really clear how we got to that raised guidance, though. GE says the improved outlook reflects better-than-expected first-half results for power and health care, and lower restructuring expenses and interest costs. It now says cash flow for the power business could be flat relative to last year’s $2.3 billion burn (adjusted for the reallocation of the grid operations to the renewable energy division), versus an earlier forecast for a substantial year-over-year weakening. Gordon Haskett analyst John Inch estimates a $500 million boost to expectations for the power unit. GE also said it thinks it can spend $500 million less on cash restructuring this year, while still achieving the same level of cost savings. This is odd. Recall that Culp’s predecessor John Flannery was ousted in part because of a perceived lack of urgency and aggression on cost-cutting. Analysts have debated how much more cost-cutting GE could actually do, given already comparatively low levels of back-office and R&D expenses and relatively high sales per employee. The European footprint GE inherited from the Alstom SA deal also complicates its efforts to fire people and shutter factories. For me, the lower restructuring bill raises questions as to whether the multi-year cost-cutting opportunity is as large as billed.Either way, working against the better power performance and lower restructuring expenses is GE’s estimate of a $1.4 billion hit to 2019 cash flow from operating activities if Boeing Co.’s 737 Max stays grounded through the duration of this year, a likely outcome at this point. GE provides the engine for the Max through its CFM International joint venture with Safran SA. One possible explanation is that Culp was trying to give the company room to fix itself in 2019 and set a low enough bar with his initial guidance that he could simply roll over it. Given GE’s past history with over-promising and under-delivering, I can’t knock the logic of this rationale. But if that is the case, it feels a little too carefully orchestrated. Why give guidance at all really if you’re going to be uber-conservative and continue to rely on heavily adjusted metrics? Why not let the results and the turnaround speak themselves? Perhaps the optics of a potential “beat” proved irresistible. It doesn’t change the fact that GE is losing some of its cash-generating ability through divestitures and likely to face historically low levels of cash flow for the next few years. One thing that seemed notably less carefully orchestrated was the announcement that Chief Financial Officer Jamie Miller would be stepping down. In an interview with Bloomberg News, Culp said this was his decision and he felt the time was right because “things were stable enough.” That suggests it’s a change he’s been contemplating for a while and was just waiting for the proper moment, which makes it all the weirder that GE announced the reshuffling without having a replacement lined up.NEVER-ENDING TARIFFS So much for the doldrums of August. President Donald Trump kicked off the typically quiet month by announcing the U.S. would slap 10% tariffs on $300 billion of Chinese imports not yet subject to duties because he doesn’t feel Chinese President Xi Jinping is moving “fast enough” to resolve trade tensions. The tariffs are set to take effect Sept. 1 and Trump has said he may even raise the duties to 25% or higher if talks with China continue to stall. The direct cost of this latest batch of tariffs will likely be incremental for industrial companies, with many of the products and components they import from China included in the $250 billion of goods already taxed by the Trump administration at 25%. It’s a much nastier surprise for consumer-goods companies like Apple Inc., which thus far have managed to stay out of the fray, and for the average American who’s about to see higher prices on some of their favorite toys and electronics. My Bloomberg Opinion colleagues Shira Ovide and David Fickling have great pieces out on this, which you can read here and here. But for manufacturers, this adds to a general environment of uncertainty that CSX Corp. CEO James Foote deemed “one of the most puzzling” economic backdrops of his career. With China reportedly contemplating blacklisting FedEx Corp. over the erroneous rerouting of packages involving Huawei Technologies Co. documents and products, Trump’s latest trade broadside could inspire retaliation against other U.S. companies. The slide in Boeing shares on the tariff news suggests investors are worried about backlash toward the planemaker, whether through canceled or scrapped orders or a tougher regulatory review of its grounded Max jet. More tangibly, this re-escalation of the trade war means the sales slowdown that was a frequent theme this industrial earnings season is unlikely to dissipate and instead set to get worse.This week brought more evidence of weakening demand from nVent Electric Plc, Gardner Denver Holdings Inc., Parker-Hannifin Corp. and even Siemens AG’s automation software business. The Institute for Supply Management’s gauge of U.S. manufacturing activity came in at 51.2 for the month of July, according to data released Thursday. That’s still indicates expansion, but it’s the fourth straight month of declines and the lowest reading in nearly three years. Thus far, manufacturers have generally been successful at passing along price increases and that, combined with stepped-up cost-cutting, has helped companies deliver earnings beats even as their sales growth slows. The durability of that dynamic will be tested if this wobbling in demand turns into a more clear-cut slump. There had been some hope that a Federal Reserve interest-rate cut would buoy the sector. Whatever push toward new investment may have been inspired by this week’s quarter-point reduction is likely now wiped out by this reopening of the trade-war tensions. Of course, there’s also the possibility that this tariff threat was Trump’s way of forcing the Fed into more rate cuts. Maybe it’s a bluff, like the threat to impose tariffs on all Mexican imports. Who knows? Meanwhile, the bright spots this week were strong numbers from Ingersoll-Rand Plc and Johnson Controls International Plc, which both posted much better organic sales and order growth for their HVAC businesses than we saw earlier in the reporting season from United Technologies Corp.’s Carrier unit and Lennox International Inc. We’ll see if that lasts. ROUNDING UP MORE PLAINTIFFSBayer AG is now facing lawsuits from 18,400 plaintiffs claiming the company’s Roundup weed killer caused their cancer; that represents an increase of 5,000 litigants since April. In a call this week to discuss disappointing quarterly earnings, Bayer CEO Werner Baumann moderately walked back the company’s resistance to settlement talks, saying he’d be open to a “financially reasonable” agreement as long as it resolves all Roundup litigation. The continued buildup in the number of claimants makes it less likely a settlement will meet both those criteria. Last month, a judge reduced a $2 billion jury award to a California couple to $86.7 million, following similar payout reductions in the other two Roundup cases that have gone to trial. But a lawyer representing that California couple noted that the average judgment per plaintiff now sits at $47 million. Every case is different and the awards per plaintiff are likely to be lower in a mass tort settlement, but that’s still a troubling precedent. Analysts’ estimates for a Roundup settlement range from $2.5 billion to $20 billion. Bloomberg Intelligence’s Holly Froum estimates $6 billion to $10 billion, given the surge in lawsuits, and said she’s skeptical a settlement would remove Roundup litigation risks for Bayer as non-parties who may claim injury in the future wouldn’t be bound to it. While Bayer agreed last month to sell the Dr. Scholl’s foot-care business to Yellow Wood Partners for $585 million and is looking to offload its animal-health business, the uncertainty surrounding the Roundup litigation likely limits its ability to consider a bigger breakup.DEALS, ACTIVISTS AND CORPORATE GOVERNANCEEaton Corp.’s second-quarter results released this week did little to endear analysts and investors to its current structure. While the company’s aerospace and electrical divisions put up strong numbers despite currency pressures and a more challenging economic environment, the hydraulics and vehicle units were disappointments, yet again. Eaton now estimates organic growth in the hydraulics business will be flat to up 1% for the full year, down from a previous guide of 3% to 4%. Margin expectations for that unit were also slashed. In the vehicle division, Eaton sees as much as an 8% decline in organic sales this year. Asked by Goldman Sachs Group Inc. analyst Joe Ritchie about the hydraulics unit’s long-term fit within Eaton’s portfolio, CEO Craig Arnold pointed out that the company’s overall performance was solid “despite the fact that we have one of our businesses that's not today firing on all cylinders.” That’s true, and yet while I’m wary of industrial companies’ passion for breakups going too far, “despite” is really the key word in Arnold’s comments. This isn’t a momentary slip-up for either the hydraulics or the vehicle business, and they’re increasingly perceived as more cyclical roadblocks holding up even greater margin improvement and sales growth for the overall company. Arnold has signaled in the past that if the company can’t get struggling businesses to targeted profitability levels, that could be a catalyst for divestiture.Parker-Hannifin agreed to buy Exotic Metals Forming Co. for $1.73 billion. The name might lead you to believe this company crafts metalworks on some sort of tropical island, but it’s based in Washington and makes complex high-temperature engine components and exhaust-management systems for aircraft including the Boeing 737 Max and Lockheed Martin Corp.’s F-35 fighter jet. On the one hand, the addition of Exotic Metals will boost the share of Parker-Hannifin’s revenue tied to faster-growing, more profitable aerospace products to more than 20% by Bloomberg Intelligence’s estimate, which will help to offset the sales slowdown in its industrial-products divisions. At about 13 times 2019 estimated adjusted Ebitda, the Exotic Metals deal is cheaper on that basis than the $3.7 billion acquisition of adhesives and coatings company Lord Corp. that Parker-Hannifin announced earlier this year. But this is another debt-fueled bet on the aerospace industry at a time when skepticism is growing about how much longer the multi-year boom in that sector will last. Exotic Metals’s already high Ebitda margin of nearly 30% and compound annual sales growth of more than 16% over the last three years leave little room for improvement. A goal of a high single-digit return on invested capital in year five for the Exotic Metals deal isn’t terribly impressive to begin with; the risk is, even that is optimistic. nVent agreed to buy Eldon, a Spanish provider of electrical enclosures, for $130 million. This is nVent’s first takeover of size since the company was spun off from Pentair Plc in 2018. It’s a good deal for CEO Beth Wozniak to start with: the purchase price is a reasonable 1.4 times the $90 million of sales Eldon generated in 2018 and the business is clearly complementary to nVent’s existing electrical protection systems. Eldon will give nVent more products that adhere to European electrical standards, giving it access to a wider swath of customers, RBC analyst Deane Dray wrote in a report. Eldon is also a bit ahead of the curve on automation and digital initiatives and the deal could help speed nVent’s efforts in those areas. In that respect, the Eldon purchase may serve to make nVent a more well-rounded takeover target in its own right, Dray writes. BONUS READINGRegulators Found High Risk of Emergency After First Boeing MAX Crash Bad Week for Energy Stocks? Wait Till Next Year: Liam Denning Shareholders Voted Them Off the Board, But the Board Said No Helicopter Bankruptcy Highlights Surprise Medical Bill Backlash Ford Acquires Defense Contractor to Get Robot Rides on the RoadAston Martin Is Struggling to Stay on the Road: Chris Hughes(Corrects second paragraph to show that the Gordon Haskett estimate is $500 million, not $500 billion.)To contact the author of this story: Brooke Sutherland at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Beth Williams at email@example.comThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Brooke Sutherland is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering deals and industrial companies. She previously wrote an M&A column for Bloomberg News.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Last week, the FT reported that a group of Britain’s best-known quantum computing scientists had moved quietly to Silicon Valley to found a startup called PsiQ. The lure was the abundance of venture capital that can’t be had in Europe.The American VC firm Playground, set up by Android’s founder Andy Rubin, has invested in the new company. Judging by Playground’s track record – two of its most notable successes were sold to Amazon.com Inc. – PsiQ may very well end up becoming part of Big Tech’s trophy collection one day.It wouldn’t be the first time that Europe’s smartest and most promising tech startups have been gobbled up by the behemoths of Silicon Valley and Seattle. Britain’s DeepMind (an artificial intelligence specialist), France’s Moodstocks (a machine learning developer for image recognition) and Germany’s Fayteq (which lets you remove objects from videos) were all bought by Alphabet Inc.’s Google.With every one of these sales, Europe loses ground in the global race for talent. Some 562 European startups were bought by U.S. firms between 2012 and 2016, or 44% of the total, according to the advisory firm Mind the Bridge. As the Google economist Hal Varian says, a big reason for buying these companies is being able to poach all of their engineers in one go. To get a sense of how scarce these resources are, consider that the international talent pool for AI – the “defining technology of our times,” according to Microsoft’s CEO – is alarmingly shallow at about 205,000 people. Germany and Britain are among the top-five hubs for AI talent because of the excellence of their universities. But it’s a bitter struggle to keep such highly prized workers at home.The primary concern about this brain drain isn’t national pride or flag-waving; it is power. It’s about who controls the huge and politically sensitive data sets on which AI relies.Google’s takeover of DeepMind is a fascinating example. While the startup said it would defend its autonomy and stick to its ethical principles after being acquired, the promise didn’t survive its meeting with reality. DeepMind’s reputation took a serious dive when its partnership with Britain’s National Health Service was found to have broken data privacy law in 2017. Google’s subsequent move to fold DeepMind’s health unit into its own business has troubled privacy campaigners, created internal tensions, and led reportedly to staff walkouts.Europe’s politicians seem complacent in confronting these issues. They see the cash flowing in from Silicon Valley as an unalloyed economic good and talk up investment as a stamp of approval. In France, ministers speak proudly of Google’s and Facebook Inc.’s research labs in Paris, which attract everyone from distinguished professors to PhD students. The French minister for digital affairs, Cedric O, said last week that American takeovers of French startups were “no problem” as long as the technology wasn’t critical.This is shortsighted, and shows Europe’s industrial policymakers are still looking at last century’s manufacturers when they’re thinking about sectors they want to protect (no doubt because of the large numbers of jobs involved). Instead of obsessing over mechanical engineering firms such as Alstom SA and Siemens AG, France and Germany would be wiser to think more about DeepMind, Moodstocks and Fayteq – or about the German robotics firm Kuka that was sold to China.Using public money to improve the pay of researchers would help, as would more hybrid public-private partnerships. Tougher antitrust scrutiny in technology is also needed – even if it edges toward protecting the national interest. Finally, there’s the dream of a European version of DARPA, the Pentagon agency that fosters emerging technologies for the military.Europe’s AI and deep tech exodus will continue until its political leaders take the issue as seriously as they do jobs in the metal-bashing industries. Unless they wake up soon, the race is lost. To contact the author of this story: Lionel Laurent at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editor responsible for this story: James Boxell at email@example.comThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Lionel Laurent is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering Brussels. He previously worked at Reuters and Forbes.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
Henri Poupart-Lafarge became the CEO of Alstom SA (EPA:ALO) in 2016. First, this article will compare CEO compensation...
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(Bloomberg Opinion) -- The business media tends to focus on the swashbuckling bosses that pull off transformational deals, not the ones who dismember former national champions. Yet the history books should look kindly on Patrick Kron, the former chief executive of French industrial giant Alstom SA.