RUSSIA

Activists Demonstrate in Support of Tycoon

About 70 Russian civil rights activists demonstrated outside Moscow's Matrosskaya Tishina jail to express support for imprisoned oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who says he has gone on a hunger strike to protest his business partner's transfer to an isolation cell. Demonstrators called for the release of Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev -- both sentenced to nine years in prison in May for fraud and tax evasion after a politically charged 13-month trial. The protesters, including Garry Kasparov, a former world chess champion who has become a fierce critic of President Vladimir Putin, dispersed peacefully after about an hour.

LABOR

Gate Gourmet Postpones Talks

Gate Gourmet, the Reston company that provides in-flight meals for airlines including British Airways, postponed talks with a union over a labor dispute that is key to its ability to sign a new deal with the airline. British Airways canceled hundreds of flights this month after a decision by Gate Gourmet to fire almost half its London staff set off strikes by workers at both companies.

The carrier agreed Tuesday to give Gate Gourmet more money and extend its contract to 2010, but only if the caterer resolves the dispute with the Transport and General Workers Union.

TRADE

Mexico May Set Tariff on U.S. Syrup

Mexico may impose an import tariff of up to 210 percent on U.S. corn sweetener after the World Trade Organization ruled a local tax on high fructose violates trade agreements, a Mexican trade official said. Mexico is studying the option of a tariff to protect its sugar industry from U.S. corn sweetener imports because the United States blocks imports of Mexican sugar exports allowed under the North American Free Trade Agreement, said Hugo Perezcano, the trade ministry's legal director for international negotiations.

BANKING

UBS Announces Firings at U.S. Unit

UBS, Europe's biggest bank by assets, said it fired as many as 30 people from its U.S. equities unit, following firms such as Goldman Sachs Group in cutting costs as stock trading commissions shrink.

Margins for equity research, sales and trading have collapsed as electronic exchanges charge as little as half a cent a share for a trade, compared with about 5 cents typically charged by a traditional broker. Goldman, the third-biggest securities firm, fired about 30 employees from its U.S. equities unit in June.

Equity research, sales and trading, once a booming business, is fading as securities firms focus on markets where they can make more money, such as high-yield debt.

BRAZIL

Lawmakers to Investigate Pension Funds

Brazilian lawmakers investigating alleged government corruption voted to break the banking secrecy of three state-run pension funds to view their transactions with two private banks. Lawmakers will analyze financial dealings of Banco Rural and Banco BMG with the pension funds of state-controlled companies Petroleo Brasileiro and Caixa Economica Federal, and with the fund that serves the country's federal workers, Brazil's lower house said in a statement on its Web site. Lawmakers are also seeking to review the banks' transactions with eight other pension funds, the statement said.

Lawmakers want to investigate whether pension funds bought securities from the banks to help finance loans to a state contractor who is at the center of an investigation of alleged bribes to legislators, deputy Antonio Carlos Magalhaes Neto told reporters in Brasilia. The three funds have more than $18 billion under management, according to the Brazilian association of pension funds.

SOUTH KOREA

Vogo to Compete With Carlyle, Newbridge

Vogo Investment, which plans to raise as much as $971 million to become South Korea's largest private equity firm, will use the cash to challenge U.S. rivals including Carlyle Group and Newbridge Capital Group for deals. "We saw overseas funds pick low-hanging fruits during Korea's crisis," said Vogo partner Lee Jae Woo, former country head at Lehman Brothers Holdings in Seoul. "Now, we can do it with regulatory support from the government."

Vogo has registered with Korea's Financial Supervisory Service as a private equity fund, following a December regulatory change that let domestic buyout funds operate for the first time. Co-founder Jason Shin, Morgan Stanley's former head of investment banking in Korea, said in April that Vogo planned to raise $486 million to $971 million this year.

Compiled from news service reports.

A supporter of former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky protests in Moscow yesterday. The words read: "Don't be silent."