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Standard Life Aberdeen, Phoenix in £3.24B deal; RBS posts 1st FY profit in years

* The Bulgarian presidency of the EU Council called on the bloc to ease proposed new rules on foreign lenders operating within the EU, saying the so-called intermediate parent undertaking requirement should only affect banks with total assets of at least €40 billion in the EU rather than the initially proposed €30 billion, Reuters wrote, citing EU documents.

UK AND IRELAND

* Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc reported an attributable profit of £752 million in 2017 — its first profit in 10 years — compared to a loss of £6.96 billion in 2016, driven by lower litigation and conduct costs and restructuring costs. For the fourth quarter of 2017, the bank reported an attributable loss of £579 million, narrowing from a loss of £4.44 billion in the year-ago period.

* Standard Life Aberdeen Plc will sell its insurance business to Phoenix Group Holdings for £3.24 billion as it reported full-year 2017 profit attributable to equity holders of the company of £699 million, up from £368 million in 2016. The total consideration of the transaction includes £2.28 billion in cash and a 19.99% stake in Phoenix Group. Standard Life Aberdeen added that it has commenced the search for a successor to Gerry Grimstone, who will step down as chairman by the end of 2019.

* Standard Chartered Plc unit Standard Chartered Bank plans to consolidate its commercial banking, corporate and institutional banking and private banking businesses in Singapore.

* Gary Rynsard, executive chairman of The Steamship Mutual Underwriting Association Ltd., told Reuters that the British ship insurer intends to establish a new subsidiary in the Netherlands as part of its Brexit plans.

* Moneysupermarket.com Group plc shares tumbled in yesterday's trading, closing down 13.75% at 283.7 pence apiece, after the U.K.-based financial comparison site said it expects growth in 2018 to slow as it makes a £5 million investment in its product engineering teams.

GERMANY, SWITZERLAND AND AUSTRIA

* Swiss Re AG reported full-year 2017 consolidated group net income of $331 million, compared to $3.56 billion a year earlier, on the back of about $4.7 billion in estimated insurance claims from large natural catastrophes. The reinsurer's board will propose a new share buyback program of up to CHF 1.0 billion after recently completing an earlier buyback of the same amount.

* UBS Group AG will have to stand trial at a Paris court from Oct. 8 for allegedly aiding clients to evade tax and launder money through anonymous Swiss bank accounts between 2004 and 2012, according to 24heures. The amount of assets not declared by the bank to French tax authorities is estimated by investigators at around €10 billion.

* Separately, UBS CEO Sergio Ermotti said he expects his potential successor to come from within the group, Reuters reported, citing an interview with Swiss magazine Bilanz.

* U.S. private equity firms Cerberus Capital Management LP and J.C. Flowers & Co. LLC have struck a deal to acquire troubled German lender HSH Nordbank AG for up to €1 billion, insiders told The Wall Street Journal.

* Felix Hufeld, president of German financial regulator BaFin, told Börse Online that he currently sees no need for regulation of cryptocurrencies, but noted that BaFin will take action as soon as there are signs that "financial stability is threatened, consumers are systematically financially harmed or criminal abuse gets structurally facilitated."

* BaFin filed for bankruptcy of Munich-based Dero Bank AG, a bank specialized in IPOs and bonds issuances by medium-sized companies, WirtschaftsWoche reported.

* Wolf Schumacher, former CEO of Aareal Bank AG, will become chairman of Bayerische Landesbank, Süddeutsche Zeitung wrote.

* Frankfurt-based Fintura GmbH, an online comparison platform for corporate finance for small and medium-sized enterprises, is closing down business due to failure to find venture capital investors to further develop the company, Finanz-Szene.de wrote.

* Deutsche Apotheker- und Ärztebank eG is acquiring the custodian business of Bankhaus Lampe KG.

FRANCE AND BENELUX

* French financial regulator AMF said platforms offering cryptocurrency derivatives fall within the scope of the EU's MiFID II regulations and must abide by the authorization and business conduct rules. The AMF also published the summary of responses to a public consultation on initial coin offerings, noting that it will continue working on the definition of a specific legal framework for ICOs.

* Groupe Crédit Mutuel-CM11 Chairman Nicolas Théry said his group will not launch any takeovers of banks in the Crédit Mutuel Arkéa SACC network, which wants to break from the Crédit Mutuel group, Les Echos reported.

* More than 1,000 people joined a class action claiming a refund of the capital they invested in the Arco co-operative before Dexia SA collapsed, L'Echo reported. The Belgian government has said it wants to settle the issue before the intended listing of Belfius Banque SA.

* Rabobank will reduce its branches in the Netherlands to 90 from 103 by 2020 as the bank moves to a more centralized operation on its digital platforms, insiders told Het Financieele Dagblad. The move will lead to layoffs of some 5,000 jobs, which are part of a previously announced reduction of 12,000 positions.

* Profits made on cryptocurrencies will be hit with taxes as high as 33% in Belgium, according to Het Financieele Dagblad.

SPAIN AND PORTUGAL

* Aviva Plc announced the sale of its remaining Spanish businesses to Bankia SA for a total consideration of €202 million. The deal, which includes the British insurance group's entire stake in life insurance and pensions joint ventures Cajamurcia Vida and Caja Granada Vida, is expected to complete in the second quarter.

* Grupo Catalana Occidente SA reported full-year 2017 attributed result of €325.4 million, up from €295.6 million a year earlier.

* The Macau branch of Portugal-based Caixa Geral de Depósitos SA has closed as part of the company's restructuring plan, Macauhub wrote.

ITALY AND GREECE

* Mario Nava will succeed Giuseppe Vegas as head of Italian market watchdog Consob, La Repubblica wrote.

* U.S.-based Apollo Global Management LLC and Italian investment advisory firm Apeiron Management SpA entered into a strategic partnership focused on investments in corporate credit opportunities in Italy.

NORDIC COUNTRIES

* Struggling Danish lender Østjydsk Bank A/S filed for bankruptcy, Børsen reported. Sparekassen Vendsyssel is taking over the remains of Østjydsk Bank for 50 million Danish kroner.

* Niche banks Ikano, Monobank ASA and Komplett Bank ASA are planning court proceedings against Bank Norwegian AS for allegedly purchasing their company names as keywords with search engine Google, E24 reported.

EASTERN EUROPE

* Aleksandrs Paže resigned as chief compliance office and a board member of embattled Latvian lender ABLV Bank AS, which faces allegations of money laundering and terrorism financing, noncompliance with regulations and international sanction violations. Latvian Finance Minister Dana Reizniece-Ozola said the ECB, which had imposed a moratorium on ABLV's debit operations in all currencies, gave the lender until Friday to plug a financing hole and avoid being shut down.

* Otkritie Financial Corp. Bank will need more funds from the Russian central bank despite the 456 billion Russian ruble rescue financing already received from the regulator in 2017, Reuters reported, citing the lender's head Mikhail Zadornov.

* The Polish Financial Supervision Authority does not currently plan to issue a special recommendation for banks regarding cryptocurrencies as they do not pose a significant systemic risk on a macro scale, but warned against multiple risks to individual investors, Rzeczpospolita wrote.

* The Croatian central bank approached the commercial court in Zagreb to open bankruptcy proceedings against Tesla štedna banka d.d., the smallest credit institution in the country, SEENews reported.

* The Czech Republic's state-owned Export Guarantee & Insurance Corp. could take over Ceská exportní banka a.s. as part of measures that are being prepared by the country's government to support exporters, E15 reported.

IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD

Asia-Pacific: Japan to check regional banks' defenses; Paytm registers 2 insurance units

Middle East & Africa: Bahraini bank eyes Saudi, UAE expansion; Kenyan banks urged to rethink plans

Latin America: Banco do Brasil's Q4'17 profit shoots up; Paraguay maintains key rate

North America: FDIC sues banks over Doral Bank's failure; BofA extends London HQ lease to 2032

North America Insurance: LIMRA says DOL rule hurt '17 annuity sales; states eye Medicaid work requirement

NOW FEATURED ON S&P GLOBAL MARKET INTELLIGENCE

Barclays pledges further returns to shareholders after hiking FY dividend: Yet despite the positive news for investors, analysts were underwhelmed by the lender's performance in 2017, with one analyst likening its investment bank to "a casino where the house isn't winning."

AXA to use proceeds from US IPO to boost position in health, P&C: AXA's U.S. IPO will free up funds to boost its position in health, property & casualty and protection, and the company is seeking to invest selectively in the U.S. healthcare market, its CEO said.

Scor's US tax-reform charge could cut solvency ratio by 7 points, says CFO: The French reinsurer may have to take a charge of up to $350 million in 2018 to account for U.S. tax reforms, but CFO Mark Kociancic said the charge is "very digestable" for the group.

KBC updates capital plan, eyes possible 2018 bid for Budapest Bank: Belgium's KBC Group might bid for the state-owned Hungarian bank if it comes up for sale in 2018, CEO Johan Thijs said.

RSA expects UK business to bounce back after 'disappointing' 2017: RSA UK and International CEO said the U.K. business, the only unit to suffer underwriting losses in 2017, should be able to hit a sub-94% combined ratio in two to three years.

UK regulator warns money managers over hackers, dirty cash and Brexit plans: The U.K.'s asset managers and private banks need to think hard about Brexit plans, cyber crime and money laundering risk, according to the Financial Conduct Authority.

Leo Magno, Arno Maierbrugger, Danielle Rossingh, Esben Svendsen, Beata Fojcik, Yael Schrage, Brian McCulloch, Sophie Davies and Helen Popper contributed to this report.

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