Business review from the Economist

Investors assured by new Tesla chairman

Robyn Denholm was named as chairwoman of Tesla, as part of a deal with regulators under which Elon Musk is relinquishing the role at the electric-car manufacturer. Denholm is the chief financial officer at Telstra, an Australian telecoms firm. She will be the first person at Tesla other than Musk, who remains chief executive, to sit at the apex of the company since its very earliest days.

Citigroup also appointed a new chairman. John Dugan, who takes over from Mike O'Neill in the new year, is a former banking regulator.

SoftBank reported a big jump in quarterly net profit, to ¥526.4 billion ($4.6 billion). That was mostly because of returns from technology investments in its Vision Fund. The Japanese conglomerate has had to face some awkward questions about the Saudi money that is backing the fund since the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. Its share price has fallen by a fifth following the killing of the Saudi journalist, allegedly by Saudi government operatives.

The political maneuvering continued in the trade war between the U.S. and China. Wang Qishan, a senior Chinese official, indicated that Beijing was ready for a discussion about "mutual concerns" with Washington. That came after President Xi Jinping lashed out at what he described as international trade's "law of the jungle." Xi and President Donald Trump are expected to discuss how they might end their standoff when they meet at the G-20 summit this month.

U.S. prosecutors brought criminal charges against two former bankers at Goldman Sachs and a Malaysian financier in connection with the alleged misappropriation of funds from Malaysia's 1MDB development fund (one of the bankers has pleaded guilty). Goldman said it was cooperating with the Department of Justice's continuing investigation and acknowledged that the proceedings could result in significant fines or sanctions against the bank.

Berkshire Hathaway revealed that it had repurchased $928 million of its shares in August, its first buyback in six years. Warren Buffett's investment company has not completed a takeover in nearly three years. Spotify, a music-streaming service, announced a $1 billion buyback of its own.

The share prices of Italian banks came under renewed pressure, ahead of a deadline for the Italian government to submit a revised budget that meets E.U. rules. Italy's big banks did better than many of their European counterparts in the recent stress tests conducted by the European Banking Authority. But questions remain about how tough those tests really are.

A remark by the governor of the Bank of Japan, Haruhiko Kuroda, that it was no longer appropriate to implement "a large-scale policy to overcome deflation" was taken as the clearest indication yet that he is minded to move on from the central bank's enormous stimulus program and start tightening monetary policy. Kuroda hedged his comments, however, and said he would keep interest rates extremely low for the foreseeable future.

Global politics from The Economist

U.S. sanctions on Iran take effect

After pulling out of a nuclear deal with Iran earlier in the year, the United States' most punishing sanctions on the country came into effect, aiming to cripple its already struggling economy. Hassan Rouhani, the Iranian president, called it an act of "economic war." France vowed to help European firms defy the sanctions.

Saudi members of a team assisting the Turkish authorities investigate the killing of Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last month were accused of trying to remove evidence.

Despite a U.S. call for peace talks, the war in Yemen escalated, as forces backed by a Saudi-led coalition advanced on rebel positions in the port city of Hodeida. More than 150 people are reported to have been killed in the past week. Hodeida's port is critical for feeding millions of Yemenis at risk of famine.

Dozens of schoolchildren kidnapped in northwest Cameroon were freed. The school's headmaster and a teacher are still being held. The government blamed Anglophone separatists in the English-speaking region, which the separatists denied.

Ecuador's supreme court ordered the country's former president, Rafael Correa, to stand trial on charges that he participated in a failed plot to kidnap an opposition congressman in 2012. Correa has been living in Belgium since he left office in 2017. He denies wrongdoing.

Voters in New Caledonia chose for the Pacific island to remain part of France, rather than become independent. But the margin was narrower than expected; there may be another referendum in two years.