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Julius Bär eyes EFG deal; UN says banks can finance oil, gas responsibly

S&P Global Market Intelligence offer our top picks of banking news stories and more published throughout the week.

Mergers, acquisitions and rumors

* Switzerland-based Julius Bär Gruppe AG is discussing a deal to acquire EFG International AG, according to media reports, which led to a surge in the target company's share price.

* Spain's Banco de Sabadell SA will sell a €700 million bad loan portfolio to Swedish loan servicer Intrum AB (publ) and a Spanish debt collection unit of Cerberus Capital Management LP, called Gescobro. Intrum will take on the bad private customer loans and Gescobro will buy the company portfolio. Financial details of the transaction were not disclosed.

* Kuwait-based Boubyan Bank KSCP is in talks to acquire the shares it does not already own in U.K.-based bank BLME Holdings PLC in an all-cash deal for a price of $1.05 per share — valuing the company at $212.1 million on a fully diluted basis.

* FinecoBank SpA CEO Alessandro Foti denied media reports that the financial technology firm was contacted by Italian peer Mediobanca - Banca di Credito Finanziario SpA for a possible tie-up. Foti said his bank's focus is to grow organically, noting that its net inflows are increasing at an average of €6 billion annually "which is equivalent of a midsize acquisition."

In the courts

* Swiss wealth management group Julius Bär Gruppe will set aside CHF153 million in provisions over a German assets case after the Zurich Court of Appeal overturned its previous ruling, affirming the claim by German authority Bundesanstalt für vereinigungsbedingte Sonderaufgaben. Julius Bär intends to appeal to the Swiss Federal Supreme Court again.

* The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York has ruled that Deutsche Bank AG must provide President Donald Trump's financial records as requested in House Democrats' subpoenas. In a divided decision, the court ordered some limited exceptions to the subpoenas to avoid disclosure of sensitive personal information about the Trump family.

* Polish holders of Swiss franc mortgage loans launched 3,200 court cases against banks in the third quarter of 2019, up by more than 40% compared with the second quarter. The increase in newly launched cases and court verdicts positive for CHF borrowers could force Polish banks to further increase their litigation-related provisions.

Watchdog activity

* The European Securities and Markets Authority said it is necessary to establish an EU-wide real-time consolidated tape for equity instruments to address the fragmentation in the region's markets and create a real single market. The watchdog also proposed a mix of legislative changes and supervisory guidance affecting European exchanges aimed at improving transparency and ensuring the provision of market data on a reasonable commercial basis.

* The U.K. Financial Conduct Authority is opening a consultation on operational resilience in financial institutions. The regulator wants banks and other financial services companies to review how they handle risks in their daily operations, such as the failure of a cloud provider or a major cyberattack, Megan Butler, executive director of supervision investment, wholesale and specialist, said during a speech in London.

* The U.K. Competition and Markets Authority is dropping part of a 2017 order covering overdrafts as it overlaps with new rules to be implemented by the FCA — set to come into force Dec. 18. The regulator said its decision was made to avoid unnecessary compliance costs stemming from conflicting regulatory regimes.

In other news

* Italy-based UniCredit SpA's CEO, Jean Pierre Mustier, believes that incentivizing banks to increase environmentally friendly lending exposes the financial industry to systemic risks. He used the example of an offshore wind farm the Italian bank recently divested after running into financial trouble, saying that had the bank been artificially rewarded to retain it the sale would never have occurred and the bank could potentially face problems down the road.

* Europe's finance chiefs want the European Commission to weigh and propose the formation of a centralized body that will have direct powers to combat money laundering. However, according to officials involved in the talks there is not much clarity around what needs to be done specifically beyond amalgamating national powers into a common institution.

* An upcoming strategic review of the European Central Bank's policies will take climate change into account, Christine Lagarde said in her first appearance before European lawmakers as president of the central bank. The ECB president told European lawmakers that she was "convinced" that tackling climate change had to be a top priority, but reiterated that the institution's main focus was achieving price stability.

Featured during the week on S&P Global Market Intelligence

Financing oil and gas can be responsible banking, say banks, UN: Banks can continue to finance carbon-intensive industries and still be in line with the UN Principles for Responsible Banking, according to Simone Dettling of the UN Environment Programme Finance Initiative.

EU bank regulator to develop climate stress tests, assess green prudential rules: The EU bank regulator will ask companies to incorporate sustainability risks into their strategies, develop climate stress tests and assess whether banks should have preferential capital treatment for environmentally friendly lending.

Metro Bank's new CEO not expected before February strategy update at earliest: Craig Donaldson's departure leaves the bank without a permanent CEO or permanent chairman after Vernon Hill stepped down from the post but, with regulators still probing the bank, a replacement for Donaldson is unlikely to arrive soon.

Fintechs have competitive advantage over big banks, RBS CEO says: Financial technology firms' clever use of tech and data has won over consumers and offers lessons for the big banks, but consumers must be able to trust banks as much with their data as with their money, Alison Rose said.