Business this week

Ren Zhengfei, the founder and boss of , said he was considering selling his company’s 5G technology, which has become a source of tension between and . The Chinese maker of telecoms equipment has in effect been locked out of the American roll-out of 5G because of national-security concerns. Mr Zhengfei suggested Huawei would share 5G patents with a buyer, along with licences and codes, but it would continue to sell its own 5G equipment.

The operator of the Hong Kong stock exchange submitted a surprise $36.6bn unsolicited bid for the London Stock Exchange. The LSE said it remained committed to its recent agreement to buy Refinitiv, a financial-data provider, for $27bn.

The gig is up

’s legislature passed a bill that will compel firms in the gig economy to reclassify their workers as employees rather than contractors. The law comes into force on January 1st and will affect many startups and firms that rely on low labour costs. and lobbied hard against the legislation, arguing that it could wreck their businesses. Portending a possible legal challenge, suggested the law would not apply to its drivers.

South Korea lodged a complaint at the World Trade Organisation over ’s limits on exports of materials crucial to South Korea’s consumer-electronics industry. Japan claims the restrictions are based on national-security concerns, though its actions are widely seen as a response to the decisions of South Korean courts ordering Japanese firms to pay compensation for forced labour during the second world war.

Hiroto Saikawa resigned as ’s chief executive, as the company revealed that he had received an “improper” increase in share-based compensation in 2013 (it did not accuse him of misconduct). Investors had also lost confidence in Mr Saikawa as profits plunged and relations soured with Renault, Nissan’s partner, following the ousting of Carlos Ghosn.

Steven Mnuchin, America’s treasury secretary, went to Capitol Hill to explain his proposals for reforming Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, government-sponsored enterprises that back most of the mortgage industry. Fannie and Freddie were bailed out during the financial crisis. Mr Mnuchin wants to begin recapitalisation soon, and has urged Congress to agree to more far-reaching reforms.

British Airways struggled to recover from a two-day strike by pilots over pay, which caused the airline to cancel the vast majority of its flights. Unless the dispute over pay is resolved another strike is scheduled to take place at the end of the month.

America’s Centres for Disease Control advised the public not to use e-cigarettes, after the deaths of six people were linked to vaping. Meanwhile, the Food and Drug Administration requested more information from Juul, the biggest e-cigarette maker, about its marketing practices, especially to young people.

The Epstein connection

MIT appointed a committee to oversee its Media Lab after Joichi Ito resigned as director following press reports that the lab had accepted donations from Jeffrey Epstein, the late disgraced financier, and tried to conceal them. The Media Lab is at the forefront of bringing together disparate research in technology, notably artificial intelligence.

In an abrupt move Saudi Arabia replaced Khalid al-Falih as energy minister with Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, an oil-industry insider. Mr Falih was also recently removed as chairman of Saudi Aramco, the kingdom’s state oil company. The promotion of Prince Abdulaziz is a sign that the government wants to accelerate Aramco’s delayed IPO.

Tributes were paid to T. Boone Pickens, who died aged 91. An oilman who undertook a number of audacious takeover bids, Mr Pickens came to define American tooth-and-claw capitalism in the 1980s. He once said, “I never liked being called a raider. I never destroyed anything.”

’s annual product launch underscored the shift in its strategy towards services, as sales of the iPhone stall. Rather than using the event to jack up prices, Apple is selling the basic version of the iPhone 11 at a comparatively modest $699, which helps it retain customers. It also priced its new TV streaming service at $4.99 a month, undercutting . The low price may reflect the limited content Apple will screen on the service when it starts in November.

Business this week

Jack Ma stepped down as chairman of Alibaba, the Chinese tech giant that he founded 20 years ago. Daniel Zhang is combining the role with that of chief executive. Mr Ma announced his retirement a year ago in order to focus on philanthropy, but he will remain on hand to offer advice to his successor, who faces an uncertain trade climate.