* Chinese President Xi Jinping and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte are expected to sign a preliminary agreement that would pledge Italy's support for Xi's One Belt, One Road trade initiative, Reuters reported. Sources said more than 30 deals are expected to be signed, including an approval for Italian lender Cassa depositi e prestiti SpA to sell Chinese-yuan denominated bonds in China. Xi will be in Italy in the week of March 20.
* China Construction Bank Corp. appointed Liu Guiping, a former vice mayor of Chongqing city, as president, Sina Finance reported. Guiping succeeds Wang Zuji who has reached retirement age.
* New China Life Insurance Co. Ltd. said its full-year 2018 net profit attributable to shareholders rose to 7.92 billion yuan from 5.38 billion yuan in 2017.
* Taiwan's Financial Supervisory Commission Chairman Wellington Koo said local life insurance companies' net foreign exchange losses hit a record NT$232.3 billion in 2018, up 31.9% from 2017, the Taipei Times reported. The increase was attributed to higher hedging cost in 2018 due to foreign exchange volatility and the widening interest rate differential between Taiwan and the U.S., according to the report. Koo expects the losses to narrow in 2019.
JAPAN AND KOREA
* Japan's Norinchukin Bank will launch partnerships with JSCB for Investment and Development of Vietnam, Philippines-based BDO Unibank Inc., Thailand-based Kasikornbank PCL and Indonesia-based PT Bank Central Asia Tbk to collaborate on agricultural industry mergers and acquisitions and agricultural business development in Southeast Asia, Tokyo's The Nikkei reported.
* Japan Bank for International Cooperation will provide a payment guarantee to support a currency swap between Shizuoka Bank Ltd. and Indonesia's PT Bank CIMB Niaga Tbk, The Nikkei reported.
* South Korea's Samsung Asset Management Co. Ltd. signed a partnership agreement with Korea Development Bank to jointly develop an online asset management platform and customized retirement pension products, The Chosun Ilbo reported.
* The Bank of Thailand's monetary policy committee decided to keep the policy interest rate unchanged at 1.75% to help boost the country's economic growth, the central bank said in a release.
* Thailand's cabinet has increased the lending ceiling for picofinance operators to 100,000 baht per borrower from 50,000 baht, according to the cabinet's resolution published on the government's website. The interest rate ceiling remains unchanged at 36% per year for the first 50,000 baht but will be lowered to 28% per year for the amount exceeding the first 50,000 baht. In addition, the cabinet increased the amount of minimum registered capital for these lenders to 10 million baht from 5 million baht.
* The Thai Life Assurance Association and the Indonesian Life Insurance Association signed an agreement to exchange data and statistics on life insurance business, related rules and regulations and activities between the two jurisdictions, the Thai association said in a release.
* Standard Chartered PLC plans to infuse more than US$2.5 billion of common equity Tier 1 capital into Standard Chartered Bank (Singapore) Ltd. by May 13, The Business Times reported. The Singapore unit will operate the bank's commercial banking, corporate and institutional banking and private banking businesses, in addition to retail banking, following the capital injection.
* Vietnam Joint Stock Commercial Bank for Industry & Trade, or Vietinbank, plans to sell 15.1 million shares in Saigon Bank for Industry & Trade, representing a 4.91% stake in the bank, in the second quarter of 2019 for approximately 304 billion dong , Viet Nam News reported. The move is a part of Vietinbank's plan to restructure its portfolio as approved by the State Bank of Vietnam.
* India-based Power Finance Corp. Ltd. entered into a share purchase agreement to buy a 52.63% stake in power sector lender REC Ltd. from the Indian government following the signing of an in-principle approval in Dec. 6, 2018.
* India's Shriram City Union Finance Ltd., a deposit-taking nonbanking finance company, is looking to raise up to 30 billion Indian rupees through the issuance of secured redeemable nonconvertible debentures in one or more tranches.
* Mahindra & Mahindra Financial Services Ltd. plans to raise up to 5 billion Indian rupees via an offering of nonconvertible debentures.
AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND
* The Australian Securities and Investment Commission received approval from the Federal Court to wind up Melbourne-based Aviation 3030 Pty Ltd. The investment scheme's directors were found to have misled investors, fabricated invoices and made unauthorized and exorbitant expenditures, among other violations.
* The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority will step up scrutiny on how banks, insurers and superannuation trustees manage the financial risks of climate change to their businesses. The regulator also called on companies to take actions on climate-related financial risks to mitigate them.
* National Australia Bank Ltd. said it will keep its regional bank branches across Australia until at least January 2021, The Sydney Morning Herald reported, citing acting CEO Phil Chronican. The move is an extension of the bank's pledge not to close branches in drought-affected communities, Chronican said.
IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD
Middle East & Africa: Attijariwafa Bank FY'18 net income rises YOY; Alexander Forbes gets new CFO
Europe: UBS fined; Italy to extend bad-loan guarantees; BBVA, Nordea sell CoCos--> Latin America: