The most read financial stories in S&P Global Market Intelligence's Asia-Pacific coverage include Bangkok Bank's proposed acquisition of Bank Permata, while editors' picks feature a story on how Westpac survived shareholders' ire following a money laundering scandal.
1. Nomura to acquire US investment banking company
Japan's Nomura Holdings Inc. is acquiring U.S.-based boutique investment banking company Greentech Capital Advisors LP. Following the acquisition, Greentech Capital Advisors will be rebranded as Nomura Greentech and form part of the group's Americas investment banking franchise.
2. Fitch says Australia regulator's actions against Westpac are credit negative
Fitch Ratings regards the Australian banking regulator's investigation into and new capital requirements for Westpac Banking Corp. as credit negative. The rating agency said the bank may face further remediation and increased costs if the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority's findings are adverse.
3. Report: China to pilot legal digital currency project
China is expected to pilot a legal digital currency project in cities including Shenzhen and Suzhou, Caijing reported, citing a source close to the project. The project will be led jointly by the central bank and state-owned companies, including Bank of China Ltd., Agricultural Bank of China Ltd., Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd. and China Construction Bank Corp.
4. Chinese banks to adopt new benchmark for floating-rate loans
The People's Bank of China has ordered financial institutions to adopt the loan prime rate, or LPR, as the new benchmark to price existing floating-rate loans starting from Jan. 1. Floating-rate loans, excluding individual housing credit linked to state provident funds, that were agreed before 2020 will be priced based on the LPR, the central bank said.
5. Bangkok Bank to buy 89.12% stake in Indonesian lender from StanChart, Astra
Bangkok Bank PCL agreed to buy an 89.12% stake in Indonesia's PT Bank Permata Tbk from Standard Chartered Bank and PT Astra International Tbk for an estimated 37.431 trillion Indonesian rupiah. Subject to shareholder and regulatory approvals, the transaction is expected to close within 2020.
1. Westpac board survives shareholders' ire in wake of money laundering scandal
A third of Westpac Banking's shareholders voted against the bank's remuneration report despite the board touting the changes it made to the executives' pay, including no increase in base pay for the CEO and a 20% cut to directors' base fees. The vote constituted a "second strike" under Australia's Corporations Act, and triggered a conditional vote on whether nonexecutive directors on the board should stand for re-election. Shareholders, however, defeated the conditional resolution with 90.80% voting against it.
2. China's Bank of Guizhou looks to raise up to HK$5.74B in Hong Kong IPO
Chinese city commercial lender Bank of Guizhou Co. Ltd. is looking to raise up to HK$5.74 billion through its planned IPO in Hong Kong, as it seeks to stabilize narrowing margins amid the Chinese government's push to liberalize interest rates. The bank plans to use proceeds from the IPO to replenish its capital.
3. Research & Analysis: APAC banks seek rewards of core system modernization
A number of APAC banks have sought to modernize their core banking systems by replacing, upgrading or outsourcing the technology to allow for greater business agility. Core transformation activities in APAC increased after 2008 as weaker margins stemming from the financial crisis compelled banks to take the plunge in an effort to improve future performance.
4. China's small banks may need to merge for survival in 2020, analysts say
Small, less-capitalized Chinese may need to merge to survive tough conditions amid slowing economic growth, rising corporate defaults and tightening market liquidity and regulatory oversight, analysts said. In November 2019, China's central bank said it identified 586 "high risk" banks and financial companies, many of which are small rural commercial banks. It said the banks needed structural changes, although the sector's risks were still manageable.
5. Data Dispatch Asia-Pacific: Indonesia bank margins set to stay ahead of most Southeast Asian lenders in 2020
Despite expectations that Indonesia may further cut policy interest rates and bank reserve ratios in 2020, the country's lenders will likely continue to report some of the highest net interest margins in Southeast Asia. The aggregate NIM of SNL-covered banks in Indonesia stood at 5.52% as of end-2018.