* The EU reassured British Prime Minister Theresa May that an Irish backstop plan would only be used temporarily, if at all, in response to a letter from May ahead of a House of Commons vote on her Brexit deal. The majority of British lawmakers are expected to vote against the deal today, Bloomberg News noted. Officials from the EU and the U.K. are now said to be working on the assumption that Britain will exit the bloc later than the scheduled date of March 29.
UK AND IRELAND
* Analysts at S&P Global Ratings have not considered the impact of a no-deal Brexit on U.K. banks in their most recent base-case economic forecast because there is no majority in parliament for such a course.
* U.K. Chancellor Philip Hammond and Home Secretary Sajid Javid will jointly lead a new government taskforce called the Economic Crime Strategic Board, which will work with senior figures from the British financial industry to tackle economic crime. The board will meet twice a year and includes CEOs from financial institutions such as Barclays PLC and Lloyds Banking Group PLC.
* U.K.-based Tandem Bank Ltd.'s product and marketing director, Matthew Ford, said the digital lender intends to launch an IPO within the next five years, The Daily Telegraph reported.
* British property developer Oliver Morley is seeking £100 million in damages from Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC due to alleged mistreatment by the bank's now-defunct Global Restructuring Group unit, The Times reported.
* Former Barclays CEO John Varley entered a not guilty plea to two charges of conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation over two capital raising deals with Qatari investors during the financial crisis, according to the Financial Times. The trial against Varley and three other former executives of the British bank is expected to begin next week.
* HSBC Holdings PLC said it processed more than 3 million foreign exchange trades worth $250 billion with the use of blockchain technology in the past year, Reuters reported.
* British specialty lender Provident Financial PLC said it expects its 2018 profit to be towards the lower end of the range of market expectations of £151 million to £166 million.
* Bermuda-based Aspen Insurance Holdings Ltd. will divest its U.K. regional managing general agency, Aspen Risk Management Ltd., Insurance Insider reported.
GERMANY, SWITZERLAND AND AUSTRIA
* Swiss Re AG estimated preliminary estimates put its claims burden from natural catastrophes and large man-made events in the fourth quarter of 2018 at approximately $1.0 billion and roughly $300 million, respectively. For full year 2018, the reinsurer anticipates pretax combined claims of $2.9 billion.
* The German Savings Banks Association will meet Monday to discuss a plan to have several public-sector lenders become shareholders in Norddeutsche Landesbank Girozentrale, Handelsblatt reported. Such a move could lead to further consolidation in the sector.
* The Zurich public prosecutors' office may broaden its investigation into fraud allegations against former Raiffeisen Schweiz Genossenschaft CEO Pierin Vincenz following an independent probe by the bank, finews.com wrote, citing a report by NZZ am Sonntag. Prosecutors are gathering information that will allow the state to put Vincenz on trial, and may have received more evidence in the form of a sealed report from Raiffeisen's internal probe.
* Clients of troubled Swiss asset manager GAM Holding AG are poised to get back at least 98% of funds they invested in the group's absolute return bond funds unit, finews.com wrote, citing a Bloomberg report.
FRANCE AND BENELUX
* Belgian group KBC Group NV has entered into a partnership with fintech companies Cashforce and BrightAnalytics in a bid to expand its fintech business, De Tijd reported.
* Dutch Banking Association Chairman Chris Buijink has argued that banks in the Netherlands should be given access to personal data from citizens in order to prevent illegal activities such as money laundering, Het Financieele Dagblad reported.
SPAIN AND PORTUGAL
* Spanish lender Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA is broadening an investigation into media reports that the bank had hired private investigators to spy on executives and government officials who favored a takeover attempt on the bank in 2004, according to a letter sent by BBVA Chairman Carlos Torres to the bank's employees.
* A Spanish court ruled that Swiss investment company Reuben Brothers SA won a tender to acquire Banco Santander SA's headquarters outside Madrid with a €283 million cash bid, net of debt, Reuters reported. Santander, which had submitted a €232 million bid to regain ownership, is expected to appeal the decision, Expansión reported.
ITALY AND GREECE
* Shares in Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena SpA were suspended yesterday after sliding more than 9%, following the bank's announcement that it had received a warning from the ECB. The central bank warned the lender about "significant challenges" in raising funds on the market, and urged it to continue to set aside funds to cover losses.
* Meanwhile, Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena could shortly issue a €750 million covered bond to be sold to institutional investors, MF said.
* Small shareholders in Banca Carige SpA see the nationalization of the bank as something not to be taken into consideration at this point of time, MF wrote.
* Danske Bank A/S' head of Swedish operations, Berit Behring, told Bloomberg that some of the Danish lender's customers in Sweden have expressed concerns and reconsidering their loyalty to the bank as they await the outcome of multiple criminal investigations launched against the lender over alleged money laundering at its Estonian branch.
* Norwegian lender DNB ASA and pension provider Kommunal Landspensjonskasse gjensidig forsikringsselskap will will wait for the recommendation of the board of Oslo Børs VPS Holding ASA before deciding on whether to sell their respective stakes in the company to Dutch stock exchange operator Euronext NV or other potential suitors, according to Reuters. DNB holds an approximately 20% stake in Oslo Børs, while KLP has a 10% holding.
* The founder and chairman of Swedish private equity firm Segulah Advisor AB, Gabriel Urwitz, will leave his post as chairman and will be replaced by current managing partner Sebastian Ehrnrooth.
* The European Commission authorized under EU state aid rules the reintroduction of a bank resolution scheme in Croatia, which was initially approved in October 2016 and prolonged in June 2017. The measure will be available for small banks with total assets below €1.5 billion, only if they are found to be in distress by the competent national authorities, the EC noted.
* A group of 16 holders of PAO Promsvyazbank bonds, which were written off after the lender was bailed out by the Russian central bank in December 2017, lodged a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights against the Russian state, Vedomosti said. The investors, who spent the total of $4.2 million on the bonds, demand a compensation that would cover their losses.
* PAO Sberbank of Russia unit Sberbank Investments and Baring Vostok Fund V Managers Ltd. concluded a deal to recapitalize two portfolio investment funds of Baring Vostok for the amount of over 4.9 billion Russian rubles during a period of more than four years, the Russian lender said.
* The Ukrainian deposit guarantee fund discovered during the liquidation of VTB Bank PJSC unit JSC VTB Bank that 105 million Ukrainian hryvnia worth of assets, mainly properties, had been removed from the lender's balance sheet in December, before the revocation of the lender's license, news agency Prime said.
* The Czech central bank imposed a 3 million Czech koruny fine on Fio banka a.s. over breach of banking and capital market legislation, E15 reported. The lender said it already addressed the shortcomings highlighted by the regulator.
IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD
Asia-Pacific: ANZ buys stake in online loan broker; China raises foreign investors' quota
Middle East & Africa: Egypt plots international bond sale in Q1; Zimbabwe to introduce new currency
Latin America: B3 wants local listing for XP; Colombia OKs payment to Ruta del Sol creditors
North America: Citi gives more access to ValueAct; PG&E in financing talks with i-banks
Global Insurance: Guy Carp rate index up 1.1%; MS Amlin raises P&I capacity; Pool Re cat bond
NOW FEATURED ON S&P GLOBAL MARKET INTELLIGENCE
Gulf asset management growth stalls despite recent optimism: Political and economic challenges have eroded the Gulf Cooperation Council's status as a safe haven in a tumultuous region, while the structure of the workforce and Shariah inheritance law means many investors feel safer investing elsewhere.
Guy Carpenter's reinsurance price index rises 1.1% as capacity subdues rates: The reinsurance broker said reinsurance pricing adequacy is in question following the 2018 catastrophe losses.
Sheryl Obejera, Ed Meza, Danielle Rossingh, Gerard O'Dwyer, Beata Fojcik, Yael Schrage, Stephanie Salti, Sophie Davies and Helen Popper contributed to this report.
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