* Agricultural Bank of China Ltd.'s net profit attributable to equity holders for the year ended Dec. 31, 2017, rose 4.9% year over year to 192.96 billion yuan, or 58 fen per share, from 183.94 billion yuan, or 55 fen per share. Meanwhile, the lender received a license to open a branch in Hanoi, Vietnam, Reuters reported, citing a statement from the State Bank of Vietnam. The new branch will commence operations in May, with a charter capital of US$50 million.
* China CITIC Bank Corp. Ltd. posted a 2.25% year-over-year increase in net profit attributable to equity holders for full-year 2017 of 42.57 billion yuan, up from 41.63 billion yuan. The lender's EPS fell to 84 fen from 85 fen.
* Song Huizhong, deputy head of the People's Bank of China's Shenyang branch, said the central bank should restructure its balance sheet as the U.S. Federal Reserve's shrinking balance sheet will have certain spillover effects on the local economy and finance, Reuters reported, citing a Chinese-language publication. Song expects the People's Bank of China to experience challenges in its monetary policies and balance sheet management as a result of the spillover, the report added.
* Hong Kong's Securities and Futures Commission released a circular calling on licensed corporations acting as IPO sponsors to critically review and enhance their systems and controls, after an inspection of such sponsors found deficiencies in due diligence practices, among other things. The securities regulator earlier fined and suspended UBS Group AG amid investigations over its role in certain offerings listed on the local bourse.
* U.S.-based Blackstone Group LP's strategic capital holdings fund acquired a passive minority equity interest in Hong Kong-based PAG, an independent alternative investment firm with more than US$20 billion in capital under management in private equity, absolute return and real estate strategies. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.
JAPAN AND KOREA
* Japan's Mizuho Financial Group Inc. and Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Holdings Inc. will establish a new holding company to control Mizuho Financial unit Trust & Custody Services Bank Ltd. and Sumitomo Mitsui Trust unit Japan Trustee Services Bank Ltd., which are set to merge in 2021, Tokyo's The Nikkei reported.
* Japan-based Shoko Chukin Bank Ltd. said it has uncovered 577 more cases of irregular lending, bringing the number of reported cases to 5,538, The Asahi Shimbun reported.
* Nanto Bank Ltd., which is based in Nara Prefecture in Japan, will invest ¥200 million in new shares of One Tap BUY Co., Ltd., a Tokyo-based smartphone stock trading platform operator, The Nikkei reported.
* South Korea's Mirae Asset Daewoo Co. Ltd. chairman, Park Hyeon-joo, has taken up the newly created post of global chairman at Mirae Asset Daewoo (Hong Kong) to focus on international operations, The Financial News reported.
* South Korean virtual currency exchange operator Dunamu plans to invest 100 billion won in blockchain technologies in the next three years, The Korea Herald reported. Dunamu, which operates Upbit, is also looking to establish a venture capital unit, tentatively named Dunamu & Partners.
* South Korea-based Shinhan Bank Co. Ltd. will link its ATM network to the LG Pay mobile payment platform of consumer electronics producer LG Electronics Inc., The Financial News reported.
* Thailand's National Credit Bureau CEO, Surapol Opasatien, said the Bank of Thailand is amending the Credit Information Business Act so financial technology operators can apply for a membership with the bureau, Post Today reported.
* The Singapore FinTech Association and the Fintech Association of Japan entered into a memorandum of understanding to foster greater fintech cooperation, The Straits Times reported, citing a joint statement from both bodies. The partnership will allow the two parties to collaborate on joint projects to support fintech innovation and development.
* Indonesia's House of Representatives will conduct a fit-and-proper test on Bank Indonesia governor candidate Perry Warjiyo by the end of March, Kompas reported.
* Bank Indonesia said skimming incidents at some banks started in December 2017 but were not reported to the regulator, Bisnis Indonesia reported. Customers of lenders such as PT Bank Rakyat Indonesia (Persero) Tbk and PT Bank Mandiri (Persero) Tbk have recently fallen victim to skimming.
* U.S.-based Goldman Sachs Group Inc. is in discussions to acquire a stake in India-based Royal Sundaram General Insurance Co. Ltd., the insurance unit of Sundaram Finance Ltd., Mint reported, citing "two people aware of the development." The talks between the two parties, however, might not necessarily lead to a deal, the publication said. Royal Sundaram has been looking to divest a stake since late 2017.
* Japanese tech giant SoftBank Group Corp., Singaporean sovereign wealth fund Temasek Holdings (Pte.) Ltd. and a private equity fund managed by U.S.-based Morgan Stanley, are in talks to acquire a 33% stake in India-based Fino Payments Bank, The Economic Times reported. The proposed transaction will include buying out Blackstone's 26% stake in the payments bank and purchasing a 7% holding via a primary issue of shares.
* India-based ICICI Securities Ltd.'s IPO of up to 77,249,508 equity shares was subscribed 78% on the last day of the bidding process, data from the National Stock Exchange of India showed. The securities company said in a statement that it successfully closed its offer for sale and raised about 35 billion rupees, of which 17.17 billion rupees came from anchor investors, The Economic Times reported. The publication noted that the announcement meant ICICI Securities reduced the issue size.
* The Reserve Bank of India is expected to keep policy rates unchanged and maintain its neutral stance at the next monetary policy review on April 5, Press Trust of India reported, citing a Morgan Stanley report. The central bank maintained its repo rate at 6.0% in a 5-1 vote in February, noting a continuing rise in inflation.
AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND
* Australia-based private wealth and funds manager Evans Dixon Ltd. filed a prospectus with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission for its planned IPO, with the aim of raising up to A$182.1 million, The Australian Financial Review's Street Talk blog reported. Evans Dixon will offer 62.9 million shares at A$2.50 apiece to raise A$157.2 million, with the ability to sell an additional 10 million shares to raise up to A$24.9 million. If the IPO pushes through, the company will start trading on a normal settlement basis on May 14.
* National Australia Bank Ltd. was found to have given itself a high rating for regulatory and compliance risk for "many months" in 2015, The Australian reported, citing bank board minutes released by the country's royal commission into the financial services industry. The minutes also revealed issues, such as a A$780 million loan to debt-laden Anglo-Swiss miner and commodities trader Glencore, and findings of "non-compliance" against the bank by Australia's anti-money laundering and counterterrorism finance regulator.
* Paul Sainsbury, global executive of wealth solutions and chief customer officer of Australian financial services company AMP Ltd., emerged as a likely successor of outgoing CEO Craig Meller, The Australian reported. The company is believed to prefer an internal candidate, but is still considering outgoing Perpetual Ltd. CEO Geoff Lloyd, who is set to depart June 30, as its next chief executive.
* New Zealand's nine biggest registered banks issued total loans worth NZ$401.65 billion in the fourth quarter of 2017, up 0.9% from NZ$398.05 billion a quarter earlier, The New Zealand Herald reported, citing a quarterly financial institutions' performance survey conducted by KPMG. The banks' combined profits rose 1.6% to NZ$1.4 billion in the fourth quarter, mostly due to an increase in noninterest income.
IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD
Middle East & Africa: Moody's keeps South Africa above junk; Capitec, Sanlam plan bancassurance JV
Europe: Aberdeen Standard sues Provident Financial; BoE to update Brexit approach
Latin America: Indusval's loss expands in Q4'17; Banrisul prepares for card unit's IPO
North America: Goldman Sachs targets 1,000 new i-banking clients; 2 Illinois banks strike deal
North America Insurance: AIG circles Australian bank's general insurance biz; Safepoint cat bond grows
Janna Estares, Sally Wang, Jonathan Cheah, Jaekwon Lim and Santibhap Ussavasodhi contributed to this report.
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