UBS said it would write down an additional $19 billion because of losses in America's housing market and related credit structures. Marcel Ospel's departure from the job of chairman was also announced. However, the Swiss bank's share price soared after it confirmed it had secured underwriting for a $15 billion rights issue.

Lehman Brothers raised $4 billion in a share offering, which bolstered its cash position and dampened market rumors that it was running out of money. Its share price also soared, as it increased the size of the offering, which had been oversubscribed.

Pernod Ricard won the auction to buy Sweden's Vin & Sprit, which makes Absolut vodka, with a bid of $8.9 billion. The deal propels the French drinks company almost to the front of the bar in terms of global sales; it is just behind Diageo.

France's stock market regulator recommended that prosecutors investigate its evidence of insider trading and an attempt to mislead investors at EADS. The allegations stretch back to 2005 and center on executives' knowledge of delays to Airbus's A380 super-jumbo.

Western Union unveiled a service that enables remittances to be sent home by mobile phone. The money-transfer business is evolving with the rise of "m-banking," which is very popular in some Asian and African countries. Western Union is marketing its new service to Hispanic immigrants in the United States.

Alitalia was in full crisis mode after Air France-KLM failed to reach an agreement with the Italian carrier's unions about a takeover. Its chairman resigned. Italy's government has tried several times to offload Alitalia, which loses around $1.6 million a day. The Air France deal was seen as its best hope.

British Airways apologized to passengers for the chaos that marked the start of operations at Heathrow's Terminal 5. The airline had to cancel hundreds of flights when problems in the baggage-handling system resulted in a backlog of at least 20,000 bags. In a sign of how bad the situation had become, BA had to send thousands of suitcases to a sorting facility in Italy.

Political economy

Relations between North Korea and South Korea worsened as North Korea expelled South Korean officials from their joint industrial park at Kaesong. It also gave warning that the policies of South Korea's president, Lee Myung-bak, whom it called a "traitor," would lead to catastrophe. America expressed concern that North Korea still has not kept its promise to declare all its nuclear programs, which it was supposed to do last year.

Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, announced at the NATO summit in Bucharest that France would send an extra 800 troops to Afghanistan. However, the summit was divided over the question of offering a membership action plan to Ukraine and Georgia, a split that pleased the Russians.

Syria was host to the 22-country Arab League annual summit, but only half of the leaders turned up. Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt sent insultingly low-ranking delegations in protest against alleged Syrian meddling in crisis-ridden Lebanon, which boycotted the meeting.

The Polish parliament approved the European Union's Lisbon treaty. Some observers had suggested that it might resort to a referendum. Ireland will now be the only one of the EU's 27 members to put the treaty to a popular vote.