* Cheng Jinqian, deputy party secretary and vice president of the Shaanxi branch of Agricultural Bank of China Ltd., is being investigated for serious breaches of conduct, Beijing Daily reported.
* Bank of Ningbo Co. Ltd. obtained approval from the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission to set up a wealth management subsidiary with 1.5 billion yuan of registered capital. The new unit will provide wealth management products as well as specialized advice services for professional investors.
* Hong Kong's Securities and Futures is seeking public input on proposed rule changes that would allow licensed or registered securities brokers to act as custodians for private open-ended fund companies. The SFC also proposed to expand the investment scope of such companies to include loans as well as shares and debentures of private companies.
* The China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission approved Amundi SA and Bank of China Ltd. to set up an asset management joint venture. It will be the first foreign-controlled asset manager in China, with Amundi holding a 55% stake in the company.
* The China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission will support Macao-based banks to expand into the China mainland, Bloomberg News reported. At the same time, financial leasing firms from the mainland will be allowed to offer services in Macao and insurers from the mainland will be able to invest in the special administrative region.
* Japan's Financial Services Agency is likely to impose a three-month ban on new insurance sales by Japan Post Insurance Co. Ltd. and parent Japan Post Holdings Co. Ltd. as a penalty for the companies' irregular sales practices, The Asahi Shimbun reported. The FSA could issue the decision on Dec. 27.
* Nippon Life Insurance Co. will participate in a A$290 million capital increase by its Australian life insurance unit MLC Ltd. Nippon Life Insurance will acquire 179,368,038 new shares on Dec. 24 to retain its 80% stake in MLC.
* KB Financial Group Inc. will not make any changes to CEOs at its bank and nonbank units, including KB Kookmin Bank, as part of the year-end management reshuffle, the Maeil Business Newspaper reported. Rival Shinhan Financial Group Co. Ltd. earlier decided to retain existing CEOs of seven out of its eight units.
* South Korea-based LG U+ agreed to spin off its payment gateway business and sell its stake in the business to Viva Republica Co Ltd. by the first half of 2020, Yonhap News Agency reported. While the companies did not disclose financial details of the transaction, it is said to be worth about 365 billion won, according to the report.
* The capital and brokerage units of Mirae Asset Financial Group. are considering setting up an aircraft leasing business in Singapore in the first half of 2020, The Korea Times reported, citing industry sources.
* Singapore Life Pte. Ltd. partnered with Aboitiz Equity Ventures Inc. and Di-Firm to launch a joint venture, Singlife Philippines, which will offer insurance and financial products in the Philippines, according to a filing. Singapore Life owns a 65% stake in the joint venture, while Di-Firm and Aboitiz Equity Ventures own 20% and 15%, respectively.
* Philippines' central bank is requiring banks to disclose their management and mitigation strategies as part of the Risk-Based Capital Adequacy Framework for the Philippine Banking System on interest-rate risk in the banking book, BusinessWorld reported. The central bank also asked banks to include the period of the calculation of their measures, as well as the interest-rate shock and stress scenarios they used in their calculations in their disclosures.
* Thailand's Securities and Exchange Commission and the SME Startup PE VC panel discussed guidelines for the establishment of a stock exchange specifically for small and medium-sized enterprises and startups, The Nation reported. The SEC and the panel agreed on preliminary rules for capital raisings on the planned bourse. The rules are expected to be finalized in the first quarter of 2020.
* Vietnam International Commercial Joint Stock Bank became the first bank in the country to comply with the three pillars of Basel II, Viet Nam News reported, citing an official of the State Bank of Vietnam. The three pillars are minimum capital, supervisory review process and market discipline disclosure.
* India's ESAF Small Finance Bank Ltd. is expected to file for a 10 billion rupees IPO by the year-end, Mint reported, citing two sources aware of the matter. The offering will be a mix of primary and secondary share sales. The small finance bank could also raise about 2 billion rupees in a funding round prior to the IPO.
* IDBI Bank Ltd. is likely to come out of the central bank's prompt corrective action framework - a watchlist of weak banks - in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2020, Press Trust of India reported, citing sources. The bank's net nonperforming assets ratio fell below the 6% threshold for the framework in the quarter ended Sept. 30. It is expected to post profit in the fiscal third and fourth quarters on the back of capital injections from its shareholders and expected capital from the resolution of Essar Steel, Bhushan Power and Steel and Alok Industries.
* India's Supreme Court issued an interim order prohibiting the central bank from releasing inspection reports, risk assessment reports and annual financial inspection reports of banks under the country's right to information law, The Economic Times reported. Banks had requested the court to review an earlier court ruling, which ordered the central bank to release such reports under the law.
* India's Avanti Finance plans to raise US$30 million to US$40 million in capital from investors and local financial firms by diluting the stake of its promoters, Press Trust of India reported, citing the company's CEO Rahul Gupta. It plans to raise the funds by March or April 2020.
AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND
* Westpac Banking Corp. appointed Ziggy Switkowski and Kerry Schott as members of an independent advisory panel, which will review the bank's risk governance and accountability in relation to the money-laundering scandal. The bank expects to announce the appointment of a third member of the panel at a later date.
* Commonwealth Bank of Australia is adding 120 new bankers as it seeks to expand in the small business lending market, The Sydney Morning Herald reported, citing bank's executive general manager of business customer solutions, Clive van Horen.
* Employees of New Zealand-based Craigs Investment Partners Ltd. agreed to acquire Deutsche Bank AG's 49.9% stake in the company for an undisclosed sum, The New Zealand Herald reported. Subject to approvals, the deal is expected to close in February 2020.
* Apollo Global Management Inc. and Cerberus Capital Management LP are among the firms shortlisted by Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. for the second round of an auction for its New Zealand auto financing unit UDC Finance Ltd., The Australian Financial Review's Street Talk blog reported. The second stage is expected to get underway in mid January 2020.
Zia Khan, Emily Lai, Jonathan Cheah, James Lim and Santibhap Ussavasodhi contributed to this report.
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