Global business

HSBC agreed to sell its Brazilian banking division to Banco Bradesco for $5.2 billion, a big step in its strategy of refocusing on Asia. Pretax profit at HSBC for the first six months of the year rose to $13.6 billion, boosted in part by a strong performance in the bank's Asian markets.

The British government sold a 5.4 percent stake in Royal Bank of Scotland, the first time it has reduced its holding in the bank since bailing it out in 2008. The government, which still holds the majority of ordinary shares, lost money in the sale, but its priority is to restore market faith in the bank. It started selling the shares it holds in Lloyds Banking Group, which it bailed out at the same time as RBS, two years ago and at a profit.

Alibaba, China's biggest e-commerce company, appointed Michael Evans as its president. A former senior executive at Goldman Sachs who was once tipped to become chief executive of the bank, his new job will be to direct Alibaba's big push to expand outside China.

The Securities and Exchange Commission approved a contentious new rule, included in the Dodd-Frank reforms from 2010, that will require a company to reveal what the median pay is for its workers and compare it with the chief executive's salary. Multinationals can exclude 5 percent of their foreign staff when calculating the earnings ratio, a much smaller percentage than many businesses had hoped for.

Shire, a British drug company that moved its official headquarters to Ireland because of the country's low corporate tax rate, unveiled a hostile $30 billion bid for Baxalta, which is based in Illinois. Last year, Shire was itself the target of a takeover from AbbVie of Chicago, which dropped its offer when the U.S. Treasury clamped down on acquisitions through which American companies seek to transfer their tax base away from the U.S.

Three German carmakers — Audi, BMW and Daimler — joined to secure the winning bid for Nokia's Here, the Finnish company's digital mapping and location-intelligence business, which is based in Berlin. Here supplies the most detailed maps available of road networks in 196 countries as well as navigation services that are essential to the future of autonomous cars. The deal is a big win for the carmakers, which were worried Here's technology could fall into the hands of Uber or Google.

Disney's share price fell sharply, even though it reported a robust quarterly profit, when Bob Iger, the company's chief executive, confirmed investors' speculation that there have been "some subscriber losses" at ESPN, Disney's profitable cable network for sport.

Political economy

The speaker of the Australian Parliament's lower house, Bronwyn Bishop, resigned after she had claimed thousands of dollars for the use of a helicopter to take her to a function organized by the Liberal Party, to which she and the prime minister, Tony Abbott, both belong.

There were signs of divisions among the Taliban in Afghanistan following confirmation that the group's leader, Mullah Omar, died two years ago. Some have rejected his deputy, Mullah Akhtar Mansour, as the new leader.

Stephen Harper, Canada's conservative prime minister, triggered the start of campaigning for an election to be held on Oct. 19. If Harper is re-elected, he would be the first prime minister to win a fourth term since 1908. He faces a strong challenge from Thomas Mulcair, leader of the left-leaning New Democratic Party, which has never governed the country before.

The European Union concluded a trade agreement with Vietnam. Human-rights groups criticized the E.U. for failing to include more stringent requirements on Vietnam, which severely represses freedom of speech and political association.

A boat thought to be carrying 600 migrants capsized off Libya's coast in the latest Mediterranean tragedy. At least 370 were rescued by coast guard ships and other vessels in the area. Over 2,000 migrants are believed to have drowned in the sea this year trying to reach Europe from north Africa.

Puerto Rico missed a $58 million bond payment, the island's first default, as it struggles with $72 billion in debt. The American territory is expected to present a restructuring plan by the end of August.