* The China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission approved Heng-An Standard Life insurance Co. Ltd.'s application to set up a pensions insurance business, China Times reported. The pensions insurer would be the ninth such company in China, with Heng An Standard Life, a joint venture of Standard Life Aberdeen and Tianjin Teda International, becoming the first venture to open a pensions insurance firm in the country.
* The market shares of PICC Property & Casualty Co. Ltd., Ping An Property & Casualty Insurance Co. of China Ltd., China Pacific Property Insurance Co. Ltd. and China Life Property & Casualty Insurance Co. Ltd. accounted for 73% of the country's property insurance in January, Securities Daily reported, citing a research report by Hua Chuang Securities Co. Ltd.
* Taiwan's central bank kept its discount rate unchanged at 1.375% for the 11th straight quarter, citing concerns of a slowing economy amid trade disputes between the U.S. and China. The central bank said growing uncertainty and persistent negative output gaps warrant an extended accommodative monetary policy to help support economic growth.
JAPAN AND KOREA
* Chiba Bank Ltd. President Hidetoshi Sakuma and Musashino Bank Ltd. President Kikuo Kato told Tokyo's The Nikkei that the "synergy effect" of a collaboration between the lenders, which began in 2016, will be worth ¥11 billion in the first five years.
* South Korea's Woori Financial Group Inc. was selected as a preferred bidder for Anbang Insurance Group Co. Ltd.'s two South Korean asset management units, The Chosun Ilbo reported. Woori Financial Group's offering price for Tong Yang Asset Management Corp. and ABL Global Asset Management Co. Ltd. is reported to be around 170 billion won.
* Hyundai Marine & Fire Insurance Co. Ltd. has decided to leave a digital-only bank consortium led by Viva Republica Co Ltd., following Shinhan Financial Group Co. Ltd.'s departure from the group, The Korea Economic Daily reported.
* The South Korean government will cut the stock transaction tax rate to 0.25% from 0.3%, with plans to gradually abolish it by 2024, The Korea Times reported, citing the country's Ministry of Economy and Finance and the Financial Services Commission.
* Krung Thai Bank PCL launched the Krung Thai Innovation Lab as it prepares for "invisible banking," the bank said in a release. The lab will focus on the development of business, product and process, data and IT innovations.
* PT Sinar Mas Multiartha Tbk acquired a 15% stake in PT Sinar Mitra Sepada Finance for 96.19 billion rupiah, Bisnis Indonesia reported.
* Bank Indonesia decided to maintain the seven-day reverse repo rate at 6.00%, and the deposit facility and lending facility rates at 5.25% and 6.75%, respectively.
* Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas kept the overnight reverse repurchase facility unchanged at 4.75%. The Philippine central bank also kept the overnight lending and deposit facilities unchanged.
* India-based Manappuram Finance Ltd. said it received board approval to resume depository services, effective April 1. The company added that Amla Samanta resigned as independent director to transfer to the board of HDB Financial Services Ltd.
* India's equity brokers may be forced to cut broking fees in the next few years to remain competitive amid the entry of more discount brokers in the market, Business Standard reported, citing HDFC Securities. The securities firm expects the growing customer base of discount brokers to attract more players in the market.
* The Securities and Exchange Board of India is considering the introduction of a dual-class listing structure on stock exchanges to allow companies to list shares with more voting rights. The regulator is studying the proposal and is open to public comment until April 20.
AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND
* Suncorp Group Ltd. plans to ramp up loans for small businesses by A$3 billion, The Sydney Morning Herald reported. The move comes amid concerns that lenders may tighten their loan books due to greater scrutiny on the financial industry.
* ClearView Wealth Ltd. Managing Director Simon Swanson has suggested that fee-for-service financial advice be tax deductible, an alternate option to insurance companies paying adviser fees, The Sydney Morning Herald reported. However, Geoff Summerhayes, executive board member of the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority, said the proposal is "unlikely to happen."
* Members Equity Bank Ltd. CEO Jamie McPhee said the government should tax Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd., Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Westpac Banking Corp. and National Australia Bank Ltd. to level the playing field for smaller lenders, The Australian reported. McPhee said the four lenders enjoy cheaper funding from the wholesale market compared with other banks due to investor belief that they would be bailed out by the government in times of crisis.
IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD
Middle East & Africa: Standard Bank names chief risk officer; Barclays Bank of Kenya raided
Europe: Brextension' sought; UBS warns on profit; BayernLB gets new CEO
Latin America: Fitch cuts growth forecast for Brazil, Mexico; new chairman at Banco do Brasil
North America: BlackRock cuts fee on biggest index mutual fund; 2 bank deals announced in Iowa
Global Insurance: Munich Re plane crash exposure; NRA to question ex-regulator; Allianz deal talk
R Sio, Sally Wang, Jonathan Cheah, Jaekwon Lim and Santibhap Ussavasodhi contributed to this report.
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