* More banks have suspended dividend payments and share buybacks, including Germany's Commerzbank AG, Dutch lender ING Groep NV and Ireland's AIB Group PLC and Bank of Ireland Group PLC, following calls by the ECB to bolster their capacity to absorb losses and support lending amid the coronavirus outbreak. France's BNP Paribas SA and Société Générale SA, meanwhile, said they will take the ECB's recommendations into consideration.
* The EU could consider introducing additional measures to give banks as much operational relief as possible to deal with loan losses resulting from the current pandemic, Reuters reported, citing a European Commission official.
* The ECB's asset purchases reached roughly €39 billion last week, the largest amount so far, highlighting its increased efforts to support governments grappling with the virus outbreak, Reuters reported.
* Zurich-based catastrophe insurance data provider Perils AG placed its initial insured property market loss estimate for extratropical cyclone Victoria at €286 million. The majority of insurance claims were reported in the U.K., Germany and Belgium.
* Euronext NV said it does not intend to make an offer for Bolsas y Mercados Españoles after Spain's economy ministry approved the takeover of BME by Switzerland's SIX Group AG.
UK AND IRELAND
* Standard Chartered PLC is freezing staff hiring for two months and said it expects to make "sensible adjustments" in 2020 bonuses as its finances were "likely to be challenged" by the current crisis, Reuters reported, citing a memo. The bank will also reprioritize its discretionary investment in the meantime.
* The Bank of England said the three-month contingent term repo facility will continue to run every week until the end of April.
* The British government will amend insolvency laws to ease pressure on businesses facing difficulty amid the pandemic and allow them to keep trading while exploring options for rescue. The changes include a short moratorium for businesses as well as the temporary suspension of the wrongful trading rules. The move follows measures recently implemented in Germany, the Financial Times noted.
GERMANY, SWITZERLAND AND AUSTRIA
* UBS Group AG will press ahead with distributing dividends to shareholders for 2019 despite some of its European peers postponing payouts due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Swiss rival Credit Suisse Group AG, which already halted its share buyback plan, is also sticking with plans to pay dividends for 2019 and will decide in the autumn what dividend to recommend for 2020, Reuters reported, citing an interview by Swiss broadcaster SRF's Eco program with Credit Suisse CEO Thomas Gottstein.
* Vontobel Holding AG said it will retain 50% of its 2019 profits to further strengthen its capital base, adding that it is now feeling the negative effects of the pandemic and the oil price shock.
* German banks will not be able to offer loans for coronavirus crisis aid without assuming at least some portion of the risk involved, the EU Commission ruled on Monday. The Commission said that there is no longer any incentive for careful handling of tax money if the state is liable for all loans, Reuters reported.
* Dietmar von Blücher, CFO of Commerzbank unit comdirect bank AG, has resigned, according to Handelsblatt.
* Austrian insurer Grazer Wechselseitige Versicherung AG acquired a 100% stake in Eurolink Osiguruvanje Skopje for 1.07 billion Macedonian denars, or €17.5 million.
FRANCE AND BENELUX
* Karel Baert will become head of Belgian banking federation Febelfin, taking over from Karel Van Eetvelt in mid-April, De Tijd wrote.
SPAIN AND PORTUGAL
* Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA's senior managers have opted to forgo their variable compensation for 2020 as part of efforts to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.
* Banco de Sabadell SA agreed to sell its institutional depositary business to BNP Paribas SA unit BNP Paribas Securities Services for €115 million. The transaction is expected to close in the second quarter of 2021.
* Not all Portuguese banks have scrapped plans to pay dividends despite the ECB's recommendation, Jornal de Negócios wrote, highlighting the case of Banco BPI SA, which plans to transfer €117 million to its owner, Spain's CaixaBank SA. Meanwhile, a number of Portuguese lenders have gone beyond the government's decree on mortgage payment moratoriums and are offering payment holidays on consumer and vehicle loans, the newspaper noted.
* Portugal's ASF insurance industry regulator also urged insurers to suspend dividend payments and show flexibility when dealing with customers affected by the outbreak, Jornal de Negócios reported.
ITALY AND GREECE
* The Italian government is extending the country's coronavirus lockdown, due to end Friday, to at least until Easter, Reuters wrote, citing Italian Health Minister Roberto Speranza.
* Italian insurance regulator Ivass has called on insurers to be prudent about dividends and bonus payments to safeguard their capital positions during the health crisis, a source told Reuters.
* Greece's Piraeus Bank SA booked a net result attributable to shareholders of €270 million for 2019, up 46% from €185 million a year earlier.
* Ukraine's Verkhovna Rada passed at first reading a law aimed at regulating the withdrawal of insolvent banks from the market, news agency Prime reported. Implementation of the law, which would make it impossible to return the country's largest lender JSC CB Privatbank to its former owners, is one of the main conditions for Ukraine to obtain new financing from the IMF.
* Fitch Ratings revised to negative its outlook on the banking sector in the region of central and Eastern Europe, namely Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovenia, due to economic pressures related to the coronavirus outbreak, noting that the move could lead to negative rating actions.
* The global crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic could delay Bulgaria's entry to the Exchange Rate Mechanism II and the EU's banking union until 2021, SEENews reported, citing Bulgarian central bank Governor Dimitar Radev.
IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD
Asia-Pacific: South Korea finalizes P2P lending rules; Agbank's net profit rises 4.6% YOY
Middle East & Africa: Kuwait on review for downgrade; Nigeria suspends clearing of checks
Latin America: Colombia cuts key rate; Brazil central bank seeks more bond-buying powers
North America: Morgan Stanley/E*TRADE deal gets antitrust OK; Fed hires muni market adviser
Global Insurance: Insurers ease policies amid COVID-19; Wimbledon pandemic insurance; Sirius sale
NOW FEATURED ON S&P GLOBAL MARKET INTELLIGENCE
Oil price drop a 'real, live' climate stress test for banks: The fall in oil prices driven by a price war and the coronavirus shutdowns could — and should — be the trigger for the banking sector to speed up its phasing out of fossil fuel financing, sustainable finance experts say.
Deza Mones, Daniel Stephens, Danielle Rossingh, Esben Svendsen, Beata Fojcik, Heather O'Brian, Brian McCulloch, Sophie Davies and Helen Popper contributed to this report.
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