Separatists in Ukraine seek “special status.” Officials from the self-proclaimed “People’s Republics” of Donetsk and Luhansk met with representatives from Ukraine and Russia, airing demands for special recognition that fall short of full independence, but not by much. Meanwhile, Reuters reports that new EU sanctions might ban the buying of new Russian government bonds.
Barclays dumps its Spanish unit at a loss. The costly clean-up of Barclays continues, with the British bank offloading most of its operations in Spain to local lender CaixaBank. The urgency of the bank’s “bold simplification” plan is apparent in the move—the Spanish operations were priced at only half of their book value, saddling Barclays with a loss of £500 million ($831 million).
China gets tough on Microsoft. Chinese antitrust regulators have given Microsoft a 20-day deadline to explain the relationship between the firm’s Windows operating system and its Office suite of products. Thanks to rampant software piracy China is already a tough market for Microsoft—it makes less money there than in the Netherlands.
Britain acts on homegrown jihadists. The UK announced new anti-terror measures, including giving police the power to seize passports of citizens suspected of trying to travel to Syria and Iraq to join groups like the Islamic State (also known as ISIL or ISIS). Talks will be held on what to do with these British citizens when they return to the UK, from prosecution to extra surveillance or even, possibly, refusing them entry at the border.
Hong Kong’s pro-democracy activists clash with police. Hong Kong protestors were pepper sprayed by police at a news conference to explain Beijing’s rejection of universal suffrage for the city’s citizens. Last night, an activist told a crowd of thousands that this decision would mark an “era of civil disobedience.”
A big fund manager fears spiralling bank fines. Neil Woodford, a British fund manager, sold his firm’s stake in HSBC on fears of “fine inflation.” Despite apparent bargains in big-bank shares, the growing fines for bad behavior represent too great a risk, he explained. Woodford is an influential figure; others may follow his lead.
A slight delay for Alibaba’s IPO. Alibaba Group Holding is pushing back investor meetings about its initial public offering for “about a week” to answer additional questions from the Securities and Exchange Commission, Bloomberg reports. The IPO, which is expected to raise more than $20 billion for Alibaba, may price on Sept. 18 and start trading on the 19th, several days later than was reported two weeks ago.
A new iPayments system? Maybe Apple and American Express can do what Google hasn’t done yet and bring about the broad embrace of the concept of the mobile wallet. Re/Code reports that AmEx is involved in a payments product that will be unveiled Sept. 9, when the iPhone 6 is expected to debut.
China’s insurers get creative. To drum up business in a stagnant market, Chinese insurance companies are taking to increasingly outlandish promotions. Add-ons to policies include covering cancelled honeymoons due to accidental pregnancies, refunding the cost of treating burns from simmering stew “hot pot” meals, and paying for damage caused by “mischievous and destructive” toddlers.