Business review from the economist

Alibaba ready for Hong Kong stock offering

Alibaba priced its forthcoming stock offering on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange at HK$176 ($22.49) a share, which could see it raise as much as $12.9 billion if all the options are taken up. The Chinese e-commerce giant is already listed in New York. It had wanted to undertake a secondary listing in Hong Kong earlier this year, before the city plunged into political turmoil. Taking no chances, Alibaba's Hong Kong stock code will be 9988, numbers that symbolize enduring fortune in China.

The indicative price at which Saudi Aramco is to sell shares on the Riyadh exchange valued it at as much as $1.7 trillion. That is short of the $2 trillion that Muhammad bin Salman, Saudi Arabia's de facto ruler, had wanted. The state-owned oil firm could raise as much as $25.6 billion, below the $100 billion that it had once hoped for, but still beating Alibaba's record IPO, set in New York in 2014. Aramco is selling 1.5% of the company: 0.5% to retail investors in the kingdom and 1% to regional funds and institutions; it has scaled back plans to drum up investors outside the Gulf. The shares are expected to start trading in December.

China's central bank cut its key interest rates, though by just 0.05 percentage points. The move is another signal of a shift at the People's Bank of China toward a modest easing cycle.

Australia's financial-intelligence agency accused Westpac, the country's second-largest bank, of failing to adequately monitor A$11 billion ($7.5 billion) in suspicious transactions, some of which were payments to child exploiters in Southeast Asian countries. It is the country's biggest money-laundering scandal, which could result in huge fines for Westpac.

HP rejected a takeover bid from Xerox, which proposed the offer earlier this month. But the maker of computers and printers left the door open to a potential combination of their businesses.

The U.S. Commerce Department said it would issue licenses to some companies that will allow them to supply goods and services to Huawei again. It had earlier granted another 90-day waiver for commercial sanctions it has placed on the Chinese maker of smartphones and network-equipment gear, enabling U.S. firms to carry on supporting existing products they have sold to it. The sanctions have proved to be porous, with many firms finding ways through them. Huawei has so far shrugged off the effects.

Amazon confirmed that it will appeal against the Pentagon's decision to award a $10 billion cloud-computing contract to Microsoft. Amazon had been favored to win the deal, before President Donald Trump, who has kept up a public feud with Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, suggested it should go elsewhere.

India's three biggest wireless telecom firms said they would increase fees next month, ending a three-year price war that has given their customers the cheapest data packages in the world. Two of the companies need to raise cash in order to pay government fees following a court ruling. Their share prices surged after announcing the price rises.

Global politics from the Economist

Another Rajapaksa will lead Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka's presidential election was won by Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the younger brother of Mahinda Rajapaksa, a former president who oversaw the bloody end to an insurrection by Tamil separatists. Gotabaya Rajapaksa was defense secretary during the fighting. His Sinhala-Buddhist nationalist campaign pledged to wipe out terrorism, following attacks at Easter by jihadists, in which 268 people died. The older Rajapaska will be prime minister.

After almost six months of protests and street battles, Hong Kongers had a chance to vote in local elections. They sent a clear message of support to those agitating for greater democracy. Days earlier, police shot rubber-coated bullets at the protesters occupying Hong Kong Polytechnic University. Most of the students eventually left the campus.

The U.S. walked out of talks in Seoul with South Korea in a dispute about paying for U.S. troops stationed in the country. South Korean politicians say the United States wants $5 billion a year, five times what it is getting now from the South Korean government.

The Taliban released two academics, one American and one Australian, whom it had held captive since 2016, in exchange for three militants. Afghanistan's president, Ashraf Ghani, said the swap of hostages for prisoners was necessary to kick-start peace talks with the jihadists.

Escalating conflicts in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger have created a crisis in which 2.4 million people need urgent food aid, the U.N.'s World Food Program said. The worst affected is Burkina Faso, where a half million people fled their homes.