* China's central bank said it would cut banks' reserve requirement ratios by one percentage point, as it looks to reduce financing costs and further support real economic development, Caijing reported. The reduction in banks' reserve requirement ratios will be made in two stages, effective Jan. 15 and Jan. 25.
* China Life Insurance Co. Ltd. purchased 1.87 billion shares in China Guangfa Bank Co. Ltd. for 6.95 yuan per share, or a total price of 13 billion yuan, www.cailianpress.com reported. The insurer continues to hold 43.69% of the lender's shares after the purchase.
* Lu Jiajin, president of Postal Savings Bank of China Co. Ltd., was appointed vice president of Bank of Communications Co. Ltd., the 21st Century Business Herald reported.
* The financial research center of Bank of Communications Co. Ltd. said in its report on prospects for 2019 that China's macro policy will be more positive for the year, with further possibilities of reserve requirement ratio cuts, Reuters reported. However, the frequency and range of the reductions will be lower, according to the report.
JAPAN AND KOREA
* MUFG Bank Ltd. is set to issue ¥2 trillion, or about US$18.5 billion, to Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. for its purchase of American biopharmaceutical company, Celgene Corp., The Nikkei reported. The loan is expected to have a maturity of one year or less. This will be the first time a Japanese bank makes a loan in the ¥2 trillion range for an acquisition involving two foreign companies.
* Tokyo Century Corp. invested in a car rental company and its subsidiary in Southeast Asia, The Nikkei reported. The Japanese leasing company has so far invested a total of US$175 million in the company since 2016.
* The workers' union of South Korea's KB Kookmin Bank will launch a strike on Jan. 8 after negotiations with the bank failed to resolve issues including salaries and incentives, The Chosun Ilbo reported, citing industry insiders. The union is planning four more strikes in the first quarter.
* South Korea's Shinhan Card Co. Ltd., Lotte Card Co. Ltd. and BC Card introduced a joint QR payment system based on a mobile application for both users and vendors, the Korea Economic Daily reported. The move would allow the companies to compete with the newest forms of payment systems, including the government-run Zero Pay and Kakao Pay.
* South Korea's Financial Supervisory Service plans to launch a comprehensive audit as early as March, The Korea Times reported, citing industry sources and the regulator. Major insurance companies such as Samsung Life Insurance Co. Ltd. are expected to be the first on the inspection list.
* Small & Medium Enterprise Development Bank of Thailand is offering a moratorium on loan repayments and low-interest loans to businesses affected by tropical storm Pabuk, Krungthep Turakij reported.
* Malaysia's DiGi Telecommunications Sdn Bhd partnered with ManagePay Systems Bhd. and Mastercard Inc. to provide a new digital payment method that can cater to the fast-evolving needs of Malaysia's growing online community, The Borneo Post reported.
* Manila-based Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. said John Go resigned as first senior vice president, effective Feb. 1.
* The Indian government has merged Punjab Gramin Bank, Malwa Gramin Bank and Sutlej Gramin Bank into a single regional rural bank, effective Jan. 1.
* A two-day nationwide strike called by public sector banks' worker unions on Jan. 8 and Jan. 9 is expected to affect banking operations across the country on those days, Press Trust of India reported.
* India's public sector banks are set to close or rationalize about 69 offshore businesses in the next few months as part of efforts to conserve capital, Press Trust of India reported, citing sources. The banks had reviewed 216 overseas operations in 2018 and closed as many as 35 operations following the examination.
AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND
* Australian online lenders Prospa, Moula, OnDeck, Spotcap, Capify, GetCapital and Lumi have agreed to comply with a code of lending practice announced in 2018, The Australian Financial Review reported. The fintech companies pledged compliance with unfair contract terms provisions and committed to standardize disclosure on interest rates.
* The Australian Finance Industry Association's code of conduct for online small to medium business lending hired former FlexiGroup Ltd. CEO Symon Brewis-Weston as head of the fintech committee, The Australian reported. The group will have the power to investigate its members for potential breaches of its code of conduct.
* More than 20 advisers moved from Macquarie Group Ltd. to other companies following the group's decision to consolidate its private bank and private wealth divisions in 2018 and to scrap commission-based remuneration, The Australian Financial Review reported.
Janna Estares, Sally Wang, Sarun Saelee, Cathy Hwang, Emi White and Aditya Suharmoko contributed to this report.
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