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Credit Suisse launches new CHF1.5B share buyback; HSBC hit by Hong Kong protests


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Credit Suisse launches new CHF1.5B share buyback; HSBC hit by Hong Kong protests

* ECB policymaker and German central bank President Jens Weidmann told Handelsblatt that banks should establish cost-effective and faster systems for transferring money to tackle latest developments, such as Facebook Inc.'s Libra currency, Bloomberg News wrote. Weidmann also noted that there is no pressing need for the ECB to develop its own digital currency.

* The growth of passive products globally will continue to be one of the bigger risks for the traditional asset management industry, Wells Fargo Securities LLC analysts said in a Jan. 2 research note.


* HSBC Holdings PLC was forced to shutter some branches and suspend several ATMs in Hong Kong yesterday after being drawn into the fallout of continuing anti-government protests. The bank has been targeted by protesters due to its November decision to close an account that provides aid to demonstrators.

* U.K. asset manager M&G said it will continue the suspension of its flagship £2.5 billion M&G Property Portfolio and will reopen the fund "once cash levels have been sufficiently raised," Reuters reported, citing a statement from the company. The fund was suspended in December 2019 due to Brexit uncertainty and weakness in the retail sector.

* Travelex, the subsidiary of London-listed payments firm Finablr PLC, said it shut down all of its online services and its mobile application following a cyberattack identified earlier this week, The Wall Street Journal reported.

* Utmost Life and Pensions Ltd. on Jan. 1 completed the takeover of Equitable Life Assurance Society, the oldest mutual life assurance company in the U.K. Under the transaction, Utmost Life and Pensions took on £6.2 billion of AUM and some 300,000 Equitable Life customers.


* Credit Suisse Group AG's board of directors approved a new share buyback program of up to CHF1.5 billion that will run through 2020, subject to market and economic conditions. The Swiss lender also said it completed its 2019 buyback program on Dec. 30, 2019, repurchasing 79,818,000 of its shares on a second trading line on the SIX Swiss Exchange for a total of CHF1.0 billion at an average purchase price of CHF12.53 per share.

* Martin Schilling, COO of Germany's N26 Bank GmbH and compliance head Sven Niederheide are leaving the firm in a major reshuffle of the company's top management, wrote.

* Chinese conglomerate Fosun International Ltd., through its German bank subsidiary Hauck & Aufhäuser Privatbankiers AG, is the frontrunner in the bidding process for Bankhaus Lampe KG, which is being sold by German food and beverage conglomerate Dr.August Oetker KG, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported.

* Daniel Llano Manibardo, most recently head of retail banking at ING-DiBa AG, was appointed member of the executive board of the bank, responsible for retail banking, digital sales channels and small and medium enterprise clients.

* Holger Hohrein, COO of Frankfurt-based Deposit Solutions GmbH, and Christian Tiessen, head of the firm's business-to-consumer unit, have left the financial technology firm, Börsen-Zeitung wrote.

* The U.S. charged Swiss firm Blacklight SA and two executives linked to 14 shell companies in the Panama Papers data leak, accusing them of purchasing shares in small publicly traded companies and then publicizing false information to defraud investors, Bloomberg reported. The Swiss firm was set up as an asset management company.


* U.S. fund CVC Capital Partners Ltd. completed its acquisition of French insurance broker April SA and said it was in the process of delisting the company, Les Echos reported.


* Pedro Manuel Moreira Leitão was confirmed as the new executive president of Caixa Económica Montepio Geral Caixa Económica Bancária SA after several months of uncertainty. The appointment comes after the central bank authorized it last month, Jornal de Negócios reported.


* Extraordinary administrators of Banca Popolare di Bari SCpA reached an agreement to sell the bank's 73.57% stake in Cassa di Risparmio di Orvieto SpA for €55.5 million to a pool of investors including the Alkemia subsidiary of French private equity firm Argenthal and Italian businessman Giulio Gallazzi, according to Corriere della Sera.

* Banco BPM SpA CEO Giuseppe Castagna told Il Messaggero that the lender expects to resume paying a dividend with 2019 earnings. When asked about the possibility of tie-ups with other banks, Castagna said Banco BPM is intent on completing its business plan, which foresees a standalone strategy.

* Banca Valsabbina SCpA sold a portfolio of nonperforming loans with a gross nominal value of €19.6 million to Balbec Capital, MF wrote.


* U.S.-based Bank of New York Mellon Corp. has ended its long-standing cooperation with scandal-hit Swedbank AB (publ), a move that the Swedish lender said is part of a strategic business decision mutually agreed by the two firms, Dagens Industri reported. FinansWatch also covered this.

* Svenska Handelsbanken AB (publ) will start to wind-down its operations in Asia during the first quarter, as part of efforts to focus on its business activities in Nordic markets, Britain and the Netherlands, Kauppalehti wrote. The bank's exit from Asia is expected to lead to the closures of its corporate banking offices and subsidiary operations in Hong Kong, Beijing, Taiwan, Singapore and Malaysia, according to Helsingin Sanomat.

* Iceland's central bank and Financial Supervisory Authority have officially merged as a single independent institution. As part of the change, the central bank will now be responsible for the tasks entrusted by law to the financial regulator.


* The Turkish central bank will charge an annual 0.025% commission on required reserves for U.S. dollar-denominated deposits and participation funds, effective Jan. 10, Reuters wrote, citing a report by Bloomberg HT.

* The potential purchase of Commerzbank AG's Polish unit mBank SA by a consortium made up of state-controlled insurer Powszechny Zakład Ubezpieczeń SA and Bank Pekao SA would make more sense than the acquisition of mBank by PKO Bank Polski SA, in which the Polish state also has a significant holding, the Polish Development Fund's head Paweł Borys told Dziennik Gazeta Prawna. The official said the potential merger of mBank and Bank Pekao would generate more synergies than Pekao's previously considered integration with fellow Polish lender Alior Bank SA, which was dropped in August 2018.


Asia-Pacific: Australian fires force bank branch closures; Korean digital bank stops lending

Middle East & Africa: Equity, Atlas Mara still in talks over deal; Nigerian banks could be fined

Latin America: Gentera to sell remittance payment business; S&P ups Argentina's rating

North America: JPMorgan tightens data security; banking issues to remain on 2020 House agenda

Global Insurance: Court ruling in ACA case; bushfire claims reach $207M; renewal season ends late


Cash still king in Italy, but fintechs see wealth of opportunity: Italy has a long-running love affair with cash. But far from being put off, a new crop of fintech and payments companies are confident that they can win over new converts to mobile and digital payments.

Liability reinsurance faces pricing pressure in mixed Jan. 1 renewals: Reinsurance broker Willis Re noted a "significant variation in pricing and capacity" depending on geography, product line, loss record and client relationship at the key global renewal date.

Deza Mones, Arno Maierbrugger, Meike Wijers, Gerard O'Dwyer, Beata Fojcik, Heather O'Brian, Brian McCulloch, Praxilla Trabattoni and Mariana Aldano contributed to this report.

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This S&P Global Market Intelligence news article may contain information about credit ratings issued by S&P Global Ratings. Descriptions in this news article were not prepared by S&P Global Ratings.