Globetrotting: news from around the world — August 2014

Former Silicon Valley engineer Jacques Littlefield’s collection of more than 200 tanks and military vehicles goes up for auction, while contraception for women goes digital, and more.


Hey buddy, wanna buy a tank?

Nothing like a tank in your driveway, alongside a Lamborghini or a Ferrari, to impress the neighbours. This opportunity was offered to a few lucky buyers on July 11 when a portion of the largest private tank and historic military vehicle collection in the world went to auction, reports Bloomberg.

The collection — tanks, artillery cannons and the like — belonged to former Silicon Valley engineer Jacques Littlefield who, although he had no military connections, reached a point where he was buying more than one war machine a week. He ended up with more than 200 vehicles.


Contraceptive chip

A totally new contraceptive method should be available by 2018 — but unlike many of its predecessors, this one will be of the digital variety.

Developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and funded by Bill Gates, the new "pill" is a computer chip that is implanted under the skin and controlled by a wireless remote. A small electric charge in the chip melts an ultrathin seal and releases a 30-microgram dose of a hormone called levonorgestrel into the body. The chip can be activated and deactivated at will, thus allowing a woman to control her contraception.

Contraceptive chip


Sotheby’s via eBay

Sotheby’s and eBay are e-partnering — again. That means shoppers looking for a timepiece valued at US$17 million will be able to find it in the same place where they can buy a Mickey Mouse watch, reports the International Business Times.

By live-streaming its high-end art auctions through online shopping giant eBay, Sotheby’s hopes to tap into the site’s 145 million registered customers.

The art multinational and the Internet colossus had already partnered in 2002 to create a website, but had pulled the plug after only a year, apparently because of a lack of profits.

Sotheby’s via eBay


Out of the ashes

You don’t often hear of a company "finding itself" after a major setback, but that’s what seems to have happened with Swiss bank UBS. Not long ago, it was written off as one of the biggest banking casualties of the 2008 crisis. But in July, it was named Best Global Bank 2014 by Euromoney magazine.

Starting in 2007, UBS was confronted with a near-perfect storm. It was the first bank to fall victim to the subprime crisis. And it was the first big Swiss private bank to run afoul of the US justice department for helping its American clients avoid taxes. From 2007 to 2009, it saw three CEOs come and go.

In 2011, Sergio Ermotti became CEO. Since then, the bank has basically redefined its business. As Euromoney puts it, "UBS is now focused on things it is good at, and can be a leader in. At the heart of that strategy is its global wealth management franchise, a US$2 trillion-plus asset business that is the envy of its competitors."