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Ping An becomes 2nd biggest HSBC shareholder; India keeps rates steady

* Moody's said the global banking sector will benefit from more robust and stable economic growth, as the rating agency expects GDP growth of 3.2% for the G20 economies in 2018. However, bank profitability continues to be subdued across regions as the low-rate environment weighs on returns and nonperforming loan levels remain high in several jurisdictions.

GREATER CHINA

* The China Banking Regulatory Commission released draft rules containing three new quantitative measures on commercial lenders' liquidity risks, which will be effective March 1, 2018, Reuters reported, citing an online statement from the regulator. The measures include the net stable funding ratio which will apply to commercial banks with more than 200 billion yuan in assets, the high-quality liquid assets adequacy ratio which will apply to those with less than 200 billion yuan in assets, and the liquidity matching ratio which will apply to all commercial banks.

* Ping An Insurance (Group) Co. of China Ltd. unit Ping An Asset Management Ltd. raised its stake in U.K.-based HSBC Holdings Plc to 5.01%. The asset management unit cumulatively acquired 1,017,946,172 HSBC shares through the Hong Kong stock connect. The move makes it the second-biggest shareholder of the bank, the Financial Times reported.

* Chinese banks established the Internet Finance Association of Small and Medium-sized Banks in Shenzhen in a bid to promote the transformation of small and medium-sized lenders in the financial technology field, cnstock.com reported. Sun Jianyi, senior vice chairman of Ping An Insurance (Group) Co. of China, was named director-general of the association.

* Taiwan's SinoPac Financial Holdings Co. Ltd. appointed Stanley Chu, former chairman of Cathay Securities Corp. Co. Ltd., as president of the company, the United Daily reported. Chen Chia-hsien, the current president of SinoPac Financial, will become chairman of unit Bank SinoPac Co. Ltd.

JAPAN AND KOREA

* Indonesia's Financial Services Authority expects Japan's Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc. to start acquiring a stake in PT Bank Danamon Indonesia Tbk in early 2018, Bloomberg News reported, citing Aristiadi, head of foreign bank supervision at the regulator. Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ Ltd., a unit of the Japanese group, will likely buy 40% of Bank Danamon in two phases, Aristiadi said.

* Japanese company SBI Holdings Inc. is entering into a capital tie-up with Chinese cryptocurrency trading platform Huobi to tap the latter's expertise in exchange systems and operational know-how, The Nikkei reported. Huobi will buy a 30% stake in SBI unit SBI Virtual Currencies, while SBI will buy 30% and 10% stakes in Huobi's Japanese and South Korean units, respectively. The move comes as SBI prepares to establish its own bourse in early 2018.

* Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ and NTT Data Corp. will test a blockchain-based international trade processing system which connects with Singapore's National Trading Platform, the Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun reported.

* Orix Life Insurance Corp. will add foreign currency-denominated insurance and business insurance to its insurance product portfolio by the first quarter of 2019, the Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun reported.

* The Blockchain Association, a South Korean industry group of about 30 cryptocurrency exchanges, said it will voluntarily restrict cryptocurrency transactions with bank accounts starting in 2018, Yonhap News Agency reported. The move is aimed at preventing these transactions from being used for money laundering and other crimes.

* South Korean securities companies withdrew plans to draw investments through foreign bitcoin-related derivatives, following an order from the country's Financial Services Commission to ban the trade, The Korea Herald reported.

* NongHyup Bank reshuffled top management, including the appointment of five deputy presidents, on Dec. 6, Yonhap News Agency reported.

* Daegu Bank Ltd. opened a branch in Incheon, South Korea, its fourth branch in the capital region around Seoul and outside its southeastern home base, Yonhap News Agency reported.

ASEAN

* Bangkok Bank PCL is cautious about granting loans for condominiums due to signs of oversupply in the market, Thailand's Post Today reported. The bank said it will keep monitoring the situation.

* Sylvy Setiawan, managing director of PT MNC Insurance Indonesia, said the company's Shariah business unit has received a license from the Financial Services Authority and will begin operations in January 2018, Bisnis Indonesia reported. The insurer also declared premium income of approximately 290 billion rupiah as of October, up 25% from the prior-year period, the publication separately reported.

* Didiet Sandjoto Pamungkas, managing director of PT Asuransi Bangun Askrida, said the company obtained permission from Indonesia's financial regulator to spin off a Shariah business unit, Bisnis Indonesia reported.

* Malaysia-based CIMB Group Holdings Bhd. is looking to expand its digital banking presence in Southeast Asia with plans to launch its first fully digital bank in Vietnam in January 2018, The Star reported. The bank will follow its Vietnamese digital bank with one in the Philippines, where it has obtained a license, said CEO Zafrul Abdul Aziz.

* Malaysian regulators are seeking to crack down on initial coin offerings by expanding the definition of "securities" in the country's existing laws, The Star reported, citing industry sources. Cryptocurrency exchanges may also be required to obtain licenses to operate in the country, the report said.

SOUTH ASIA

* The Reserve Bank of India kept its policy repo rate unchanged at 6.0% in a 5-1 vote. The central bank also maintained its reverse repo rate at 5.75%, and both the marginal standing facility rate and the bank rate at 6.25%. One member of the monetary policy committee favored a rate cut of 25 basis points, it said.

* India's central bank allowed foreign investors to increase their stake in microfinance bank Bharat Financial Inclusion Ltd., as the aggregate foreign shareholding in the company has gone below the prescribed threshold caution limit, Press Trust of India reported, citing a regulatory notification.

* Life Insurance Corp. of India will curb its stock investments and bolster its holdings of Indian government bonds after buying 440 billion rupees of stock in the first eight months of the year ending March 31, 2018, Reuters and Bloomberg News reported. The insurer set a target of investing 500 billion rupees in stock in the current fiscal year.

* Bangladesh Bank removed Dewan Mujibur Rahman, managing director of NRB Commercial Bank Ltd., from his position over "gross irregularities," including signature forgery, interference of outsiders in the board, and corruption, The Daily Star reported, citing Suvangkar Saha, spokesperson and executive director of the central bank.

AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND

* The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority's quarterly lending data showed that the number of home loans approved despite not meeting serviceability requirements surged to the highest level since March 2008, The Australian reported. The loans approved outside the criteria amounted to A$4.5 billion as of the September quarter, or a rise of 5.2%. Deutsche Bank analyst Anthony Hoo said the rise "would be concerning if sustained," and that it was "a historically high level."

* Credit experts and bank analysts described David Murray's concern that the banking royal commission could undermine the financial system if banks are unable to enforce terms as a "worst case outcome," The Australian Financial Review reported. Murray, who led Australia's financial system inquiry in 2014, said the commission could have "profound systemic consequences" if lenders could not rely on strong contracts to enforce their security.

* Four New Zealand-based insurers may join more than 250 locals in a class action lawsuit against the Bay of Plenty Regional Council over flooding in Edgecumbe, New Zealand, in April, The New Zealand Herald reported, citing NewstalkZB. The residents claim the council failed to act on the knowledge that the river bank could burst.

IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD

Middle East & Africa: Global sukuk market seen to grow; Access Bank Ghana to raise capital

Europe: EU allows derivatives trading in US; Deutsche rebrands asset management unit

Latin America: Panama lands on EU blacklist; Banorte shareholders OK Interacciones deal

North America: California regulator seeks to suspend/revoke Wells Fargo licenses

North America Insurance: UnitedHealth's Optum inks $4.9B deal; Calif. wildfire could cost insurers $2B

Janna Estares, Sally Wang, Jonathan Cheah, Jaekwon Lim and Santibhap Ussavasodhi contributed to this report.

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