Jeff Mason is a White House Correspondent for Reuters and the 2016-2017 president of the White House Correspondents’ Association. He was the lead Reuters correspondent for President Barack Obama's 2012 campaign and interviewed the president at the White House in 2015. Jeff has been based in Washington since 2008, when he covered the historic race between Obama, Hillary Clinton and John McCain. Jeff started his career in Frankfurt, Germany, where he covered the airline industry before moving to Brussels, Belgium, where he covered the European Union. He is a Colorado native, proud graduate of Northwestern University and former Fulbright scholar.
Twitter handle: @jeffmason1
MUMBAI (Reuters Breakingviews) - Infosys' cash return is a useful distraction from bigger questions. Boss Vishal Sikka is following his rivals at Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) and HCL Technologies in returning up to $2 billion of its unused war chest. The payout will help lift some of the gloom around the Indian IT firm, which has been beset by worries about slowing growth and top-level disagreements.
MUMBAI (Reuters Breakingviews) - Reliance Industries' rise challenges assumptions about what investors want from India's corporate giants. After four years, Mukesh Ambani's $70 billion flagship firm is on the verge of reclaiming its mantle as the country's most valuable company from IT giant Tata Consultancy Services. India’s richest man is reaping the rewards of massive risk taking.
HONG KONG (Reuters Breakingviews) - India needs to convince the country’s poor that bailing out banks is in their interests. That is the top challenge facing Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government as it seeks to clean up state-owned lenders. Meanwhile, banks are scared of being accused of selling bad assets too cheaply. Any comprehensive plan will have to overcome both hurdles.
HONG KONG (Reuters Breakingviews) - Vodafone has its eye firmly on the top spot in India. A $23 billion merger of the UK-based telecom giant’s Indian operations with Idea Cellular will create the nation's top mobile operator amid a bloody price war. The structure is less than ideal, however, because it aims to satisfy both companies, and give a big say to an Indian tycoon all at once.
HONG KONG (Reuters Breakingviews) - Anil Agarwal is betting the house on Africa. The Indian tycoon is making a personal bet on Anglo American worth up to 2 billion pounds through a fiddly, bond-financed deal. The raid signals a desire to build a global mining giant. There is little overlap with Agarwal's flagship London-listed Vedanta Resources, but a 12 percent stake would give him a prime position in the event of an Anglo breakup.
NEW YORK (Reuters Breakingviews) - Global tech giants are heading for a proxy war in India. Alibaba is leading a $200 million investment into Paytm’s marketplace, creating a new Indian unicorn. It confirms the intention of the Chinese behemoth to take on Amazon, which is aggressively ramping up, investing $5 billion into its local operation as other homegrown rivals flail. Only one of the tech big boys will emerge victorious.
HONG KONG (Reuters Breakingviews) - India may see bigger as easier. Tucked into the budget released on Wednesday was a plan to create national champions, starting in the oil sector. The idea pairs industrial logic with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s love of grand gestures, and desire to see India make a bigger mark on the international stage. Such state capitalism looks like a marriage of convenience.
HONG KONG (Reuters Breakingviews) - Malaysia is still struggling to put its sovereign-fund scandal behind it. Prime Minister Najib Razak was not named in lawsuits filed last year by the U.S. Department of Justice after billions disappeared from 1Malaysia Development Berhad, and he has deftly avoided a legal tangle on his home turf. Nonetheless, the fallout is keeping Malaysia's leader on his toes.
SINGAPORE (Reuters Breakingviews) - Global banks are being hit by Southeast Asia’s distrust of hot money. Indonesia plans to introduce new rules to ensure research about the health of its economy and financial markets is “factual”. It follows a decision by Jakarta to cut business ties with JPMorgan. Meanwhile Malaysia has been clamping down on currency trading. The skittishness moves serve to highlight the region's vulnerabilities ahead of its impressive growth profile.
HONG KONG (Reuters Breakingviews) - India's banks need a cash injection, and 2017 looks like the year that they will get it. The country reckons ailing state lenders need at least 1.8 trillion rupees ($27 billion) or more to shore up their balance sheets and meet global capital requirements. Now Prime Minister Narendra Modi may have a way to rally political support for such a move.