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South Korea's ING Life draws interest; 2 Chinese firms post higher FY'17 results


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South Korea's ING Life draws interest; 2 Chinese firms post higher FY'17 results


* Postal Savings Bank of China Co. Ltd.'s net profit attributable to shareholders for the year ended Dec. 31, 2017, climbed 19.8% year over year in the aggregate to 47.68 billion yuan, or 59 fen per share, from 39.80 billion yuan, or 55 fen per share. Meanwhile, China-based Haitong Securities Co. Ltd.'s full-year profit attributable to owners rose 7.15% year over year to 8.62 billion yuan, or 74 fen per share, from 8.04 billion yuan, or 70 fen per share.

* The China Securities Regulatory Commission wants mutual funds to limit their total investment allocation to negotiation certificates of deposit, or NCDs, to not more than 20% of their portfolio during the time of its establishment, Reuters reported, citing "people with knowledge of the matter." The regulator also wants newly launched bond funds to comprise less than 80% of bonds. The guidance was released in response to concern over excessive allocation of NCDs in the companies' bond funds, a message seen by the news outlet showed.

* The China Insurance Regulation Commission imposed a penalty of 100,000 yuan on PICC Property & Casualty Co. Ltd. for filing and providing fake information, Caijing reported. The company has so far received 23 tickets from the regulator in 2018, with a total penalty of 4.55 million yuan.

* Hongkong & Shanghai Banking Corp. Ltd., a unit of U.K.-based HSBC Holdings PLC, will no longer offer its fixed-rate mortgage plan in the city, beginning March 29, after the U.S. Federal Reserve hiked its interest rate, the South China Morning Post reported. While the product remains popular with buyers, the profit margin on fixed-rate mortgages gets narrow every time there is an increase in base rate, which could explain the banks' withdrawal, the report said, citing Frankie Wong, COO of Pan Asian Mortgage.


* Japan's Mitsubishi UFJ Lease & Finance Co. Ltd. will sell its 50% stake in MMC Diamond Finance Corp. to Mitsubishi Motors Corp., which owns 47% of the auto financing company, Tokyo's The Nikkei reported. Tokio Marine & Nichido Fire Insurance Co. Ltd. will also sell its 3% stake in the company to Mitsubishi Motors. The transactions, worth a total of ¥6.9 billion, will take effect April 2.

* Japan-based Aozora Bank Ltd. will eliminate its own ATMs and link its banking service to Japan Post Bank Co. Ltd.'s machines in a cost-cutting move, effective from August, The Nikkei reported.

* Japan's Shikoku Finance Capital, a fund management joint venture established by regional banks Awa Bank Ltd., Hyakujushi Bank Ltd., Iyo Bank Ltd. and Shikoku Bank Ltd., will launch its first fund capitalized at ¥4 billion, The Nikkei reported.

* Japan-based Dai-ichi Life Holdings Inc. is looking to substitute human work equivalent to 2,100 employees with technology by 2023, and redeploy a redundant workforce to new growth areas, The Nikkei reported.

* South Korea-based Shinhan Financial Group Co. Ltd. unit Shinhan Bank Co. Ltd. is interested in buying ING Life Insurance Korea Ltd. for 2.5 trillion won including the management premium, The Korea Times reported, citing "sources familiar with the issue." The group is currently in the process of studying and analyzing ING Life's market valuation, a senior industry executive said. Rival KB Financial Group Inc. also expressed interest in ING Life, two sources from the private equity fund industry noted.

* South Korea's Mirae Asset Daewoo Co. Ltd. and Internet content service firm Naver Corp. launched a 200 billion won fund as a 50/50 joint venture investing in Asian startups, The Chosun Ilbo reported. The two companies plan to increase the fund to 1 trillion won. Mirae Asset Capital Co. Ltd. and Mirae Asset Global Investments Co. Ltd. will manage the fund.


* Indonesia's Financial Services Authority ordered the country's systemically important banks to make a Tier 1 capital surcharge of between 1% and 3.5% of risk-weighted assets, depending on the size and viewed riskiness of the bank, Bloomberg News reported, citing a statement from the authority. Lenders were given a deadline of Jan. 1, 2019, to meet the additional requirement, which aims to improve loss absorption and protect against bank failure.

* Mirah Wiryoatmodjo stepped down as an independent director, as well as director of compliance, of Indonesian lender PT Bank Permata Tbk, Bisnis Indonesia reported.

* The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas directed Philippine banks and other financial institutions to offer electronic payment channels for all customers and to come up with systems enabling fund transfers in a matter of seconds, BusinessWorld reported, citing a statement from the central bank. The authority looks to shift cash-heavy transactions to digital avenues through the National Retail Payment System, which is expected to help widen access to financial services.

* Thailand-based TMB Bank PCL CEO Piti Tantakasem said the lender's wealth management sector will focus on customers with mid-level income, or those who earn between 15,000 baht and 100,000 baht monthly, but do not have high financial literacy, Post Today reported. The bank will provide investment advice and technology to meet with their demands.

* Thailand's state agencies started making and receiving payments electronically instead of using cash and checks since March 27, as part of an effort to turn the country into a cashless society, Thai Rath reported.

* Singapore-based DBS Group Holdings Ltd. is looking to hire up to 100 people from Hack2Hire, a hackathon program which was introduced by the lender in 2017, The Business Times reported. The bank said it is broadening the program's scope to hire for a wider range of technology skill sets, including mobile application developers and user interface and user experience designers.


* India-based Punjab National Bank is working with the government and the Reserve Bank of India to settle a dispute over claims from counterparty lenders in a US$2 billion fraud case, Reuters reported, citing "a source with direct knowledge." The parties are keen to resolve the issue before the end of March to avoid any fraud-related losses on banks' balance sheets during the quarter. Authorities also want to avoid any protracted dispute between Punjab National Bank and other state-owned banks with exposure to the case, the source said.

* India's Infosys Ltd. incorporated a clause in incumbent CEO Salil Parekh's employment contract that leaves no room for potential disagreements or legal trouble, in a bid to avoid a repeat of issues with former CEO Vishal Sikka and former CFO Rajiv Bansal, Mint reported, citing the undisclosed employment contract reviewed by the publication. Both Infosys and Parekh have agreed to abide by a three-member arbitration panel's decision and not to dispute the panel's verdict before any court, the report said.

* The Reserve Bank of India resumed consultations with stakeholders, including bankers and business associations, to gather their views on policy making decisions, Press Trust of India reported, citing top official sources. The six-member monetary policy committee, led by Governor Urjit Patel, is set to meet on April 4 and April 5 to decide the first monetary policy of fiscal 2018-19.

* World Bank Group private investment arm International Finance Corp. launched a supply chain finance advisory services engagement with Pakistan's Bank Alfalah Ltd. to help bolster access to finance for local small and medium enterprises, the Daily Times reported. IFC has also inked a loan mandate with Nepal's NMB Bank Ltd., subject to regulatory approval, The Himalayan Times separately reported. The loan will be allocated mainly to the SME sector and agribusinesses.


* Australian life insurers' executives would face tougher regulations as an 18-month parliamentary investigation into the scandal-ridden financial sector recommended a reform, which includes removing the life insurance industry's exemption from parts of consumer law and a stricter code of conduct, among others, The Australian reported. Steve Irons, a member of the parliament who chaired the inquiry, said there are sections in the industry that should do better in giving the protection they promised while remaining financially viable.

* National Australia Bank Ltd. documents provided to the country's royal commission showed that the bank did not inform its investors that it had been dealing with "non-compliance" with anti-money laundering laws since 2015, The Sydney Morning Herald reported, citing bank board minutes. The investors first learned of the bank's issues with the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre when the lender released its 2017 annual report, which included a contingent liability for potential costs linked with a project to "strengthen" its compliance with anti-money laundering laws.

* An internal audit report by Commonwealth Bank of Australia in 2017 detailed a range of compliance issues with unit Aussie Home Loans, including failure to impose the lender's key policies that the broker was contractually bound to observe, The Australian reported, citing the report released as an exhibit by the financial services royal commission. The report rated the control environment for Aussie Home Loans as "marginal," which means the controls are operating but improvement in the short term is required to ensure proper risk management.


Middle East & Africa: Abraaj mulls unit stake sale; Hapoalim Q4'17 profit up; Bank of Ghana cuts rate

Europe: Commerzbank predicts fall in revenue; Deutsche Bank looks to replace CEO

Latin America: Caixa Seguridade prepares for IPO; Brazil finance chief eyes presidency

North America: Fed looks at modernizing CRA; Citi, Goldman Sachs boost hiring in Brazil

North America Insurance: Supreme Court rejects challenge in AIG bailout; PCS pegs storm losses at $1.36B

Janna Estares, Sally Wang, Jonathan Cheah, Jaekwon Lim and Santibhap Ussavasodhi contributed to this report.

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