Will iPhones soon have the smartphone galaxy to themselves? It may have seemed that way at the start of the week after a Californian court ruled that Samsung had wilfully infringed the Apple’s patents. Despite the $16bn wiped off the South Korean company’s market capitalisation, life goes on in Samsung Town as its latest benchmark-setting smartphone shows.
In other news, it appears that the death of M&A has been exaggerated. Judging by WPP’s 40 acquisitions in 21 countries in the first half of 2012, the world’s largest advertising agency never believed the hype. In the US, private equity group Carlyle negotiated its third major deal of the summer buying DuPont’s performance coating business for $4.9bn while Hertz more than doubled its initial offer for rival Dollar Thrifty. In Asia, Japan’s biggest maker of air conditioning and heating equipment, Daikin, bid $3.7bn for the US’ Goodman Global, but it remains unclear whether ThaiBev’s slick dealmaking skills are aimed at Fraser and Neave or Asia Pacific Breweries. In China’s first hostile bid by a state-owned enterprise for a private company, Hong Kong’s regulator has hopefully set a precedent by imposing a definite deadline in ENN and Sinopec’s drawn-out pursuit of China Gas.
Meanwhile banks continued their long road to recovery from the financial crisis they helped to cause. Barclays’ appointment of a new chief executive demonstrated that banks are now run as much for politicians as they are for their shareholders. Elsewhere in Europe, French farmers’ bank Crédit Agricole retreated from its disastrous forays into Greece and eastern Europe, Dutch financial services group ING continued to atone for its €10bn of state aid by selling assets and an Italian bank established in 1472, Monte dei Paschi, found itself in need of a government bailout. In the US, a darling of the financial crisis that never took taxpayers’ money, Hudson City, was bought by M&T Bank for $3.7bn after getting itself in trouble.
The remainder of the action occurred in the Anglo-French sphere. In the UK, AstraZeneca’s newly arriving chief executive faced the challenge of fixing the pharma company’s incoherent strategy as security company G4S tried to put an Olympic fiasco behind it. In France, L’Oréal and Carrefour experienced contrasting fortunes with the former cash-rich and looking for acquisitions and the latter’s recovery plan leaving many questions unanswered.
John Casey, Lex Publisher
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