Lina Saigol

From Who Comments? - the encyclopedia of comment & opinion
Jump to: navigation, search


225Replace this image person.png

Full name: Lina Saigol

Area of interest: Mergers and acquisitions

Journals/Organisation: Financial Times


Personal website:

Website: / Lina Saigol







Career: Sunday Business: banking editor, for three years; The Guardian: personal finance and City reporter, three years; joined the Financial Times in 2000: investment banking correspondent, European M&A Correspondent

Current position/role: Special correspondent, Middle East crisis

  • also writes/has written for:

Other roles/Main role:

Other activities:



Broadcast media:

Video: regularly appears on national and international TV and radio


Awards/Honours: M&A International Media Awards, 2007 – won third place with article: "It's time to stop league table obsession", 23rd April (see M&A press release PDF)



Books & Debate:

Latest work:



Financial Times:

Column name:

Remit/Info: "...all aspects of mergers and acquisitions, including breaking news of deals and analysis"

Section: Companies UK

Role: Columnist



Personal website:

Website: / Lina Saigol

Commissioning editor:

Day published: Monday (in print)

Regularity: Weekly

Column format:

Average length:

Articles: 2014

Articles: 2013

  • Dealings in the danger zone - MTN of South Africa’s ventures in Iran and Syria have dented its reputation and rattled shareholders - 3rd July

Articles: 2011

  • Gulf’s wealthy move more capital offshore - The wave of political strife enveloping the Arab world has rattled Gulf merchant families, businessmen and royals, leading many to move more of their personal wealth offshore - 26th March
  • Assessing risk in dash for resources - Unable to expand traditional activities in the face of regulatory and political obstacles, companies such as BP and BHP have little choice but to look to new frontiers - 28th February
  • Analysis: Libya: No line in the sand - With protesters under ferocious attack from Tripoli, awkward questions are being asked about the seven-year UK enthusiasm for doing business with the Gaddafi regime - 26th February with James Blitz
  • Opaque Libyan fund built diverse portfolio - The Libyan Investment Authority, valued at $60bn-$80bn, has stakes in a diverse range of foreign assets, from newspapers and football teams to banks and textiles - 22nd February
  • Time for companies to pick and choose is over - Groups have to be prepared to take a whole array of ancillary products otherwise, the banks say, they can’t support their infrastructure or headcount - 21st February
  • All-share deals betray shaky nerves - Spin from chief executives in all-share nil-premium mergers is that by combining two companies of equal size, they can create one with double the market capitalisation - 14th February
  • Actelion needs a shot in the arm - Activist investors in the European biotech company are not going to give up, and momentum for change is growing fast - 7th February
  • M&A fills market’s house of mirrors - A spate of spin-offs is helping fuel global dealmaking, which in 2011 stands at $209bn – making it the strongest start to the year in more than a decade - 31st January
  • Private equity provides some key lessons - Chief executives with no tangible growth plans must study any serious private equity bid with a critical eye or concentrate intensely on raising their game - 24th January
  • When there’s merger talk on the table - In the UK, if companies are in serious M&A talks and the news leaks into the market, the merger watchdog will grill them relentlessly and make them clarify the situation - 17th January

Articles: 2010

  • Climate is right for bad dealmaking - This time it will be different. Those are the words being spouted by rainmakers as they prepare for 2011 and the beginning of a new M&A cycle - 20th December
  • The logistics of Biomet bid for S&N - On paper a combined Biomet and Smith & Nephew makes perfect sense from the synergies that can be achieved but there are doubts as the whether it can afford its rival - 13th December
  • Chinese outsiders shake up rules of M&A - The bid by China’s Tianjin Xinmao for Draka, the Dutch cable maker, came so far out of left field that some bankers thought it might be a hoax - 6th December
  • Equities traders return from Siberia, via Basel III - It used to be said that being in the equities trade in Dallas was the worst place a banker could be - 29th November
  • The funds that trade on synthetic deal activity - The anticipated recovery in dealmaking has yet to materialise, and with few solid deals to trade on, rumours and speculation make the running - 22nd November
  • Man in the News: Nat Rothschild - The banking dynasty scion has grand ambitions, write Christopher Thompson and Lina Saigol - 20th November
  • Actelion rises as rivals start to circle - Swiss biotech group seeks to calm takeover speculation while the industry’s biggest company, Amgen, shows interest in the group - 20th November
  • Kirin and Suntory want a taste of Danone - It is unlikely the French group will dispose of its water business but there are other brands it could part with and use as leverage to expand in emerging markets - 15th November
  • Cross-border mega-mergers are dying out - Regulatory and government sensitivities to large-scale cross-border deals are heightened during economic recessions, when growth is weak and unemployment high - 7th November
  • Truth behind very civilised rejection - Unlike their US counterparts, who have an arsenal at their disposal to fight off hostile bids such as poison-pills and scorched-earth tactics, in the UK management teams tend to use language first to try to see off unwanted advances - 25th October
  • Bonus squabbles will only reopen old wounds - This year, like no other, the quandary of how to allocate the spoils will be excruciating - 18th October
  • The work may be rolling in, but the money isn’t - To gain a foothold in developing markets, banks have little choice but to swallow lower fees for a while. But expert at making the same mistakes again and again, they have forgotten that rapid expansion into new markets almost always backfires - 4th October
  • Banks balance revenue with reputation - They are making tough calls, as shown by Citigroup’s decision to freeze its role as joint broker to BHP and work for Sinochem, a rival but potentially lucrative client - 27th September
  • Banks are looking identical - With little to distinguish one bank from another, chief executives are running scared about the strength of their competition in the face of an improving market - 20th September
  • Big moves need more certainty of outcome - Sanofi-Aventis, France’s biggest drugs group, is close to sending US biotech company Genzyme a bearhug letter to try to bounce it into talks - 2nd August
  • Dear Mr Cable, please examine the big picture - Whay are you so silent about a potential takeover of Tomkins – a British engineering company that Canadian funds want to asset-strip? - 26th July
  • Bankers pander to greedy clients - It is a company management’s responsibility to judge the contest on the quality of IPO advice, rather than go with the highest price from banks - 19th July
  • Zombie bankers in the line of fire - For the past year, an army of undead bankers has been stalking the world of financial services, searching for tasty fees to feast on - 12th July
  • Size alone is not the right cure for Sanofi - Investors’ insatiable demand for continued profit growth could see Sanofi’s chief pressured into adding product lines, without achieving enough scale in any one area to compete with established players - 6th July
  • Bankers’ unverifiable boast that ‘the pipeline is full’ - Given today’s cost of financing, no one expects to see a buy-out boom any time soon. That suggests bankers will have to wait until 2011/12 for rebound to materialise. Only then, will the world find out whether their unverifiable boast that “the pipeline is full” is true - 28th June
  • BP needs to get a grip of any post-disaster assets sale - With the group’s credit rating hovering around junk, avoiding a fire sale will be tricky, but analysts believe it will achieve top dollar for the assets it tries to offload - 20th June
  • Meet new chief executives and wait for more of the same - It is uncanny how new chief executives of global banks all think alike - 14th June
  • Bankers should take blame for Pru’s failed AIA deal - Companies hire and pay investment bankers to be transaction specialists and they are there to find their client a do-able deal, structure it and negotiate the best term - 7th June
  • When insider trading fails to add up - It's the biggest insider dealing operation Evaaaahh! But has the FSA really stepped up its enforcement of market abusers, or just become better at publicising it? - 29th March
  • Pfizer could ease Deutsche Bank’s pain - Back in 2007 the German bank financed nearly all of Icelandic billionaire Thor Bjorgolfsson’s acquisition of a majority stake in Actavis, the generic drug company, failing to syndicate about €4bn of debt which is now sitting on its books - 22nd March
  • The Real Deal: When buy-outs fail to work out - Bankers are being very choosy about accepting take-private work now that it is them, rather than clients, that are taking a scientific approach to choosing their clients and deals - 15th March
  • Thiam’s 12-point guide to daring M&A - Prudential’s bid for the Asian business of AIG was launched at a time when many chief executives are reluctant to commit themselves to transforming deals of the type usually only seen at the peak of bull markets. Here then is Pru boss Tidjane Thiam’s guide to express M&A in a downturn - 8th March
  • Wanhua holds the whip hand in Hungary - For years, ‘softly softly’ was the approach taken by Chinese companies making investments in western groups. Now the gloves are coming off and they are taking up a much more combative stance - 1st March
  • Less is more for BofA when it comes to Merrill - Less is more. When it comes to investment banking, at least, that is the strategy of the corporate bankers at Bank of America as they try to make the acquisition of Merrill Lynch work -22nd February
  • Hedge funds enjoy ride on this train deal - Hedge funds have always liked playing with train sets. Now the arbs are playing the $26bn takeover of Burlington Northern Santa Fe by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway - 15th February
  • Peering through telecoms hoops - It would seem to be an act of lunacy if Teléfonica decided to merge with Telecom Italia in order to gain market share in Brazil, given the many hurdles involved - 8th February
  • Listed equity is the new leverage - Listed equity is the new leverage. That’s the buzz around entrepreneurs such as Hugh Osmond who are looking to bypass banks and fund their acquisitions without high levels of debt - 25th January
  • GDF-Suez dances round International Power - A GDF-Suez takeover of International Power would be a good way to set the tone for dealmaking this year - 18th January
  • Faceless shareholders to drive M&A action - Forget about trying to spot the next hotshot dealmakers – M&A in 2010 will be driven by the often-faceless shareholder - 11th January

Articles: 2009

  • M&A cycle turns - The conglomerate business model favoured in the 1960s could be set to make a fashionable return - 21st December
  • M&A experts pay for others’ mistakes - M&A advisers were not at the heart of the financial crisis, yet now they are being punished for the sins of those colleagues who played fast and loose with their bank’s capital - 14th December
  • Double speak, the language of bonuses - For anyone new to the banking industry, here is a reminder of what is being said by managers and what it really means to their bonus-hungry staff - 7th December
  • Banks regain the upper hand - During the credit boom, the banks were held hostage as they chucked their balance sheet behind deals almost for free in exchange for higher margin investment banking products. It was like dealing with the Mob – no one liked it but they had to do it - 30th November
  • Time for reality check on the deal market - M&A bankers are spending a lot of time watching shadows, and the reality is that most chief executives would rather hang on to their cash than throw it at shadows - 23rd November
  • Caution needed in IPO queue - Over the next few months buy-out groups are expected to dump as many highly leveraged companies as they can on the stock market. Trouble is, mature companies coming to market with their cost structure finely tuned leave little room in the after-market for growth - 16th November
  • Cash is king in the book of Bob - A reading from the book of Robert E Diamond III:Chapter One; Verse One: In the beginning there was Bob - 10th November
  • Delayed payments bringing bigger rewards - In a market where sellers do not want to offload assets for a low price and buyers are reluctant to pay top dollar, offering a deferred payment consideration can keep both sides happy - 26th October
  • Tiring of fast and loose ploy - It’s the due diligence, stupid! That’s the familiar cry from CVC almost every time it launches a high-profile bid only to walk away - 19th October
  • Bear hugs lose clout without financial firepower - The old-fashioned bear hug – whereby a bidder publishes an open letter outlining a takeover proposal to pressure the target board into negotiating – is in vogue again - 12th October
  • Stock is still valid currency for deals - It’s a buyers market and cash is king, right? That’s what you would expect, given all the banker talk of cash-rich companies preparing to splash their hoard on bargain assets - 5th October
  • M&A bankers lose star quality - The bold strategists who engineered the deals that trasnformed the corporate landscape have been replaced by executors with little more than balance sheets - 28th September
  • Better to wait out siege by bidders - The ’put up or shut up’ order is one of the best weapons available to a British company under siege, but knowing when to use it calls for skill and sound judgment - 21st September
  • Kraft without guile in Cadbury’s bid - What’s the best M&A tactic when you really, really want to buy an asset? Bid low and then bid against yourself; or bid low, wait for someone else to bid, and then bid against yourself? - 14th September
  • Raised spirits - Deal-making: Glasses are clinking again in the City of London as bankers celebrate recent mergers and acquisitions – yet hopes of a possible upturn are mixed with caution - 12th September
  • The world’s dealmakers take heart - Kraft’s approach for Cadbury and a potential deal involving France Telecom’s Orange UK and Deutsche Telekom’s T-Mobile UK have raised hopes of a rebound in global dealmaking - 8th September
  • Merger may be only choice for T-Mobile - Deutsche Telekom is in talks with competitors including Vodafone and Telefónica to sell the UK’s fourth-biggest mobile operator. A smarter solution would be to knock on France Telecom’s door and suggest a merger - 7th September
  • Strange case of banking fees - Free markets should be kryptonite for cartels but the high fee structure Wall Street developed for selling investment banking services seems curiously immune - 2nd September
  • Bidding buddies need a pre-nup - Private equity and trade bidders must make sure they have a watertight deal spelling out which partner has control over deciding when to sell and at what price - 28th July
  • Merger arbs stay out of the game - Merger arbitrageurs who bet on cheap talk now could be making the most expensive mistake of their careers - 20th July
  • Vivendi must keep on haggling - Trying to do telecoms deals in emerging markets is like haggling for bargains in a souk: it is harried and confusing and no one can agree a price. Sometimes you end up paying more for an item than you would have back home. Investors have to wonder why Vivendi is willing to go through such an experience - 13th July
  • Private equity forced to think smaller - Investment banks have refocused on flow trading to compensate for the loss of business in higher-margin areas. Private equity is doing the same and when the market returns, they will do full-control buy-outs again - 6th July
  • Xstrata’s merger double trouble - Three little words in M&A are guaranteed to make investors break out into a cold sweat: merger of equals - 29th June
  • Barclays chooses a risky path to growth - This is the type of newspaper article readers could see in five years if the UK bank’s resurrection of its ambition of building an investment bank is allowed to spin out of control - 22nd June
  • Caution urged over M&A deals - Chief executives should exercise caution over mergers and acquisitions in the downturn because buying distressed or bankrupt companies does not guarantee higher returns, a study warns - 15th June
  • Banking fees are facing a backlash - Investment banking fees are starting to come under scrutiny at a time when investors are being deprived of dividends as they instruct their boards to watch how they spend every penny - 8th June
  • Seeds of backlash ready to sprout from BAB - Barely four months after the world was calling for bankers to be burnt at the stake, it’s BAB, that means Bonuses Are Back and even banking veterans are astonished by the speed of their return - 1st June
  • SocGen needs to be wary of M&A’s giants - Frédéric Oudéa has big plans for Société Générale, one of which is to become a top-three player in mergers and acquisitions to match its dominance of equity derivatives in Europe - 18th May
  • Bigger banks will restart boom and bust cycle - Mergers and acquisition bankers are poring over the stress test results of weak US banks, eagerly looking for deal opportunities. But is now the time to risk such deals? - 11th May
  • Another sparkling boutique offers advice - Almost every day a key rainmaker defects from a large bank to launch his own financial advisory boutique. This is the kind of press release the Financial Times receives announcing the latest addition - 4th May
  • Culture clash may prove costly for Nomura - If Nomura wants to grow revenue in a declining market, it will have to adapt to Lehman’s ways and create an environment where the bankers it bought are incentivised to earn what they have been guaranteed - 27th April
  • Patience will help to grease M&A wheels - It was two years after the collapse of the dotcom boom in late 2000 before companies started selling assets to reduce debt accumulated from expensive acquisitions - 20th April
  • Crisis sees European banks raising the pace - Barclays Capital, Deutsche Bank and Credit Suisse are a bit breathless at the moment. All three banks still have balance sheets with legacy assets and monolines to write down and that means they need to continue to run faster than their provision build - 6th April
  • Dealogic tough on credit for mergers - The first quarter M&A rankings are out and they are prompting brawls between bankers seeking promotion for their firm. But, if Dealogic has anything to do with it, the bankers will soon have to unclench their fists - 31st March
  • Show of togetherness could soon fall apart - Bankers have clung together in a rare display of solidarity for most of the credit crisis. But that could all be about to change. Employees who already hate each other are now finding out which of their colleagues are being paid what - 23rd March
  • Litigation fear should not cloud fair views - Chief executives who are brave enough to do deals in this environment are terrified of one thing: shareholder litigation against ill-conceived transactions - 16th March
  • Raise cash in haste, repent at leisure - The performance of companies in the years following cash calls is a good reason for investors to reject the current glut of UK rights issues - 9th March
  • Trapped in vicious circle of cutbacks - UBS has a problem. For the past 18 months, the Swiss bank has been slicing away at its stubborn cost base and headcount now stands at 16,970 – a 34 per cent drop from the peak in the third quarter of 2007. But the more it cuts, the more revenue it loses, which forces it to cut again - 2nd March
  • Merrill’s racy ways and BofA don’t mix - BofA’s stubborn suburban approach to investment banking will lose it revenues and top-dollar intellectual capital - 23rd February
  • Rio shareholder talk unlikely to result in action - Judging by the record of UK institutional investors, it does not look as if Rio Tinto should be worried about shareholder wrath over Chinalco’s $19.5bn investment? - 16th February
  • Corporate lending is a sprat to catch a mackerel - Need help meeting your funding requirements? We’ll extend the credit if you give us all your future investment banking business - 9th February
  • Issue of bankers’ pay can’t be ducked - Regulators and bank managements missed the chance to reform the way bankers are incentivised to take risk eight years ago during the dotcom boom - 2nd February
  • Where is business case for bail-outs? - Here’s how to do financial services M&A in 2009. Buy an asset at knock-down prices with minimal due diligence and three weeks later go crying to the government, claiming you didn’t know what you were buying and need some quick and easy capital - 19th January
  • Funds adopt an ostrich mentality - The Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal, a character in Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, was so mind-bogglingly stupid that it believed if you could not see it, then it could not see you - 12th January

Articles: 2008

  • Banks’ fate was written in their DNA - The world’s biggest banks have each reacted differently to the credit crisis. Some took quick action, while others denied the severity of the situation and chose to let the markets decide their course - 14th December 2008
  • Private equity pull-out brings more victims - Buy-out bosses were claiming limited partners in some private equity funds were so worried about meeting capital calls they were willing to pay other investors to take their undrawn commitments - 8th December 2008
  • Something is rotten in the state of Hesse - Shares in Deutsche Bank are trading at just under half their book value and its chief executive Josef Ackermann is at a loss as to why. His procrastination over whether to raise any new capital may provide the answer. - 1st December 2008
  • A test of bankers’ staying power - The pink slips are coming. That’s the word in Charlotte, North Carolina, where Bank of America’s top chiefs are preparing the integration of Merrill Lynch - 17th November 2008
  • Mergers rely on cultural integration - The success of mergers and acquisitions in investment banking, as much as anywhere, depends heavily on the integration of culture, and for Bob Diamond the acquisition of Lehman Brothers’ US business is no exception - 3rd November 2008
  • A pharma deal could offer the right medicine - M&A bankers looking for the nearest ledge to jump off should turn to drugs to relieve their pain. A pharmaceutical deal in the next few months could offer a needed high to depressed M&A volumes - 27th October 2008
  • Investment bankers see the streams run dry - Having focused necessarily on capital and liquidity problems, few investment bankers have had time to address their future revenue streams. When they do, they’ll see there isn’t a whole lot left - 20th October 2008
  • When a stitch-up is needed - The big question among the buy-out crowd is when will the companies they own start to blow up - 13th October 2008
  • Market fears Schaeffler lacks the ball bearings to close on Conti - Hedge funds are becoming increasingly nervous about the potential €12bn (£9.4bn) deal closing - 6th October 2008
  • Top rainmakers plan to flee to boutique havens - All across Wall Street and the City of London, some of the world’s biggest rainmakers are hatching plans to set up independent boutiques - 29th September 2008
  • Bigger may not be better - Last week’s spate of panic-driven merger deals has spawned a new generation of gargantuan institutions with the power to dictate the next financial boom and bust - 22nd September 2008
  • Denial disguises reality of Lehman crisis - Ask employees at Lehman Brothers what went wrong, and they say Dick Fuld was so drunk on hubris he refused to see the gravity of the credit crunch - 15th September 2008
  • Got those goodbye bonus blues - It is a subject no one wants to discuss at the moment but, as bankers return after their summer break, they will have one thing on their minds: the year-end bonus - 31st August 2008
  • Bankers on board for latest game of strategy - This could be the perfect opportunity to dust down Risk, the board game much loved by testosterone-fuelled M&A bankers - 28th July 2008
  • Where creeps seem to prosper - Volkswagen has been stalked for two years by Porsche; PPR tiptoed up behind Puma; and Schaeffler is creeping towards Continental, having secured 36 per cent of the automotive parts and tyre supplier through the use of derivatives - 21st July 2008
  • Black Horse back in its stable - Deals are not always the answer, but Lloyds TSB looks stronger than any of its rivals. If ever there was a reason for the bank to do something, it must be now - 14th July 2008
  • Missed chance to cut and run - It seems chief executives of UK companies have never listened to Kenny Rogers’ well-worn advice, and the same goes for Bradford & Bingley - 7th July 2008
  • Mind the gap between advisory and revenue rankings - Is there any relationship between the M&A advisory rankings and the amount of money the banks are earning from these deals? - 30th June 2008
  • Reasons for lack of side bets on BHP bid - It may be the biggest hostile bid in the world, but those hedge funds playing BHP’s $167bn hostile takeover of Rio Tinto for arbitrage say it’s one, big, non-event - 23rd June 2008
  • Panel's action speaks louder than the FSA's words - If the Takeover Panel governed the recent statements by John Varley or Steve Crawshaw on capital raisings, the chief executive of Barclays would have been slapped with a “put up or shut up” and his counterpart at Bradford & Bingley would have been banned from taking action for six month - 19th June 2008
  • Investors face bind over the leader's longevity - Is it too risky to eject a chairman or chief executive immediately after an emergency rights issue? - 16th June 2008
  • Old M&A heroes can't get no satisfaction - Ask any chief executive of a large global company to name Wall Street’s top dealmakers and they will start to stutter. The days when M&A advisers took centre stage are gone - 12th June 2008
  • Refresher exam for France Telecom - A quick refresher exam for Didier Lombard France Télécom chief executive to help him decide whether to revise his offer for TeliaSonera or walk away from the whole shambolic affair - 9th June 2008
  • Time for FSA to stop talking and start doing - When it comes to stamping out market abuse, no one does it worse than the Financial Services Authority. It seems the dirtier the market becomes, the more ineffectual the UK regulator is - 2nd June 2008
  • A painful prognosis for big drugmakers - Some of the world’s biggest pharmaceuticals companies, including GlaxoSmithKline and AstraZeneca, face their worst crisis in decades, as their future revenues come are under threat from shrinking drug pipelines, increased competition from generics and a slew of patent expiries - 9th May 2008
  • How to get a magic circle turning again - It’s the greatest magic trick of any downturn. Get a bank to lend you money to buy back a loan that it has been forced to sell because you borrowed from them it at such a cheap rate in the first place - 6th May 2008
  • Bankers forget there's life after death - Investment banks must stop mourning subprime losses and start looking forward - 27th April 2008
  • Case of deja vu on risky debts - They call it Chapter 22 – you get to restructure a company twice and make double the fees - 20th April 2008
  • Best time to act is before your rivals do - If Royal Bank of Scotland is forced into a £12bn ($23.6bn) rights issue to boost its capital ratios and repair its damaged balance sheet, it should move sooner rather than later - 13th April 2008
  • Diamond wedding for stricken UBS - Wax up your skis, Bob. The opportunity of a lifetime may be careering down a piste near you soon. UBS needs to be rescued, and who better to do it than Mr Diamond himself, the president of Barclays? - 6th April 2008
  • A joke on global trading floors is that UBS will soon stand for U've Been Split - Insiders at Europe's second-largest bank talk about a break-up as the best solution to the spectacular $18bn writedown it has taken on mortgage securities - 17th March 2008
  • Citigroup sticks it's neck out - Need to raise some M&A finance? Give Citigroup a call. As other banks decline to dance with their clients, Citigroup, one of the worst hit by the credit crunch, is still doing the rhumba - 9th March 2008
  • Banks have done badly but their input is still of worth - When the credit crunch ends, should investment banks go back to financing private equity deals as well as advising on them? - 2nd March 2008
  • When it comes to M&A, - the Americans seem to have a misconception that the Arabs and Chinese are about to start acting like the Japanese during the 1980s - 21st January 2008

News & updates: