This weekly article offers aselection of our top banking stories published throughout the week.
Woori Bank kicks off earningsseason
SouthKorea's Woori Bank kickedoff earnings season for Asia-Pacific banks during the week, reporting a35.8% year-over-yearincrease in net income for the second quarter ended June 30.
Inaddition to Woori Bank, which posted a net income of 307.05 billion won for thequarter, two other major South Korean lenders — Shinhan Financial GroupCo. Ltd. and KBFinancial Group Inc. — reported their respective results during theweek. Shinhan Financial posted a 1.3% decline in net profit for the second quarter, whileKB Financial's net profit for the six-month period ended June 30 rose20.1%, thanks tolower provisions for credit losses and employee expenses.
InSoutheast Asia, Krung Thai BankPCL was an outlier among Thailand's four largest banks, reporting ayear-over-year increase in second-quarter profit. On the other hand, netincome at each ofSiam Commercial BankPCL, KASIKORNBANKPCL and Bangkok BankPCL fellduring the quarter,thanks in part to higher bad debt provisions. Krung Thai Bank's net incomerose 2.72% to 8.68billion baht from 8.45 billion baht.
Elsewhereacross the region, India's HDFCBank Ltd. reported a 20.2% increase in net profit for the quarter ended June30, while Joint Stock CommercialBank for Foreign Trade of Vietnam saw a increase in net profit to 1.580trillion dong from 1.325 trillion dong.Indonesia's PT Bank Central AsiaTbk also joined the pack, reporting a in net profit for the first half.
Singapore gets serious about1MDB-related issues
Thenever-ending saga around Malaysian state investment fund 1Malaysia DevelopmentBhd., or 1MDB, resurfaced with full force during the week, as the MonetaryAuthority of Singapore vowed to take action against certain financialinstitutions for their involvement in 1MDB-related transactions.
TheSingapore central bank said it found lapses and weaknesses inanti-money laundering controls in certain financial institutions as part of aprobe into various1MDB-related fund flows through the city-state for possible money laundering,securities fraud and other offenses. The financial institutions includewell-known names DBS GroupHoldings Ltd., StandardChartered Plc and UBSGroup AG.
Theannouncement came as authorities in the U.S. and Switzerland continue to lookinto suspicious 1MDB-related transactions. The U.S. Justice Department filedlawsuits seeking to seize more than US$1 billion worth of assets linked to1MDB. The assets, according to the DOJ, were the result of US$3.5 billion thatwas misappropriated from 1MDB. The multijurisdictional probes were started afterMalaysian investigators found that millions of dollars of funds have flown intothe private accounts of the country's Prime Minister Najib Razak from 1MDBthrough a range of intermediaries.
More on the regulatory, legalfronts
Onthe monetary policy front, Bank Indonesia decided to keep its benchmark interest rate at 6.50% andmaintain the deposit facility and lending facility rates at 4.50% and 7%,respectively. Indonesia's central bank also kept the seven-day reverse reporate at 5.25%. Elsewhere, the isintroducing a newintegrated rate policy called the minimum lending rate, a single benchmark ratefor lending, effective Aug. 1.
Regulatorsin Asia-Pacific are taking steps to address risks to the financial sector.Notably, South Korea's Financial Services Commission a task force to improvecommunication with foreign financial companies amid concerns over exit by agrowing number of foreign firms. In Japan, theFinancial Services Agency plans to revise rules to allow the lenders more flexibility inaccommodating their customers' banking hours. Meanwhile, the Reserve Bank ofNew Zealand proposednew nationwide restrictions on loan-to-value ratios to further mitigate risksto financial stability from high house prices.
InHong Kong, Bank of East AsiaLtd. and U.S. hedge fund Elliott Management Corp. remain embroiled in along-running dispute that stemmed from the bank's sale of new shares to Japan'sSumitomo Mitsui BankingCorp. in 2014. The bank said it will strongly oppose a newlawsuit from the U.S.hedge fund over alleged unfair conduct on the part of the bank's directors andserious governance failings.
In other news
* KBFinancial denieda South Korean media report that said the banking group is looking to acquireIndonesia's PT Bank SinarmasTbk.
*Fitch Ratingsassigned a long-term issuerdefault rating of BBB- and a short-term issuer default rating of F3. Theoutlook on the bank's long-term issuer default rating is stable.
*Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp.Ltd.'s two Chinesebanking units, OCBC Bank (China) Ltd. and Wing Hang Bank (China) Ltd., to become OCBCWing Hang Bank (China) Ltd.
*The Philippines reaffirmed its intention to seek ratification of its membership in the AsianInfrastructure Investment Bank despite current political tensions with China.
* has an all-women branch in thecapital of West Bengal, India.
*South Korea'sKIWOOM Securities Co.Ltd. agreed to acquire TS Savings Bank in an 88.5 billion won deal.
* willshutter six of its 10retail branches in India from Oct. 1.
* subsidiary NihonHoshou Co. Ltd. entered into a business partnership with to provide guaranteeson the bank's real estate-related loans.
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