Money Daily Brief: Asian firms struggle in weak economy

Kin Cheung/AP
Hundreds of investors owning financial products linked to defunct Lehman Brothers protested outside Standard Chartered Bank in Hong Kong Friday. The US firm's collapse last year has hurt some 37,000 Hong Kong investors holding Lehman-related products of questionable value.

Not out of the woods: Asian shares fell, causing the MCI Asia Pacific index to slip back from its highest close since Sept. 8 last year, after Japanese lender Aiful Corp sought to reschedule debt payments and figures revealed that bankruptcy petitions in Hong Kong rose by 33 percent in August from a year earlier.

Insider trading: A Hong Kong court sentenced a former Morgan Stanley managing director to a maximum seven years in jail and a stiff fine in the latest sign of the city's crackdown on financial crime.

Sky wars: American Airlines, British Airways, and Australia's Qantas are joining forces on a proposal to recapitalize cash-strapped Japan Airlines (JAL) and head off a rival offer from Delta Airlines. The trio want to retain a Japanese carrier within the Oneworld Alliance and prevent Delta's rival SkyTeam grouping picking up JAL.

G20 positioning: European leaders have agreed to push for a global deal to limit bankers' bonuses at next week's G20 summit in Pittsburgh, calling for sanctions to be used to ensure that bonuses are linked to long-term performance. A united front was agreed after France's Nicolas Sarkozy of France relaxed his call for a ceiling on bonuses.

In my backyard: Setting out his own stall ahead of next week's G20, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown writes that it is time to look for "exit strategies" from the emergency fiscal measures introduced by leading economies to stave off worldwide depression.  Looking for a different kind of exit in light of improving conditions, Lloyds Banking Group PLC said it was talking to regulators about reducing the amount of its assets to be covered by the national insurance plan for toxic securities.

Ben Quinn is a Monitor correspondent in London. For a look at Americans' reviving fortunes, click on US household wealth up after two years.

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