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China to share investor identities with Hong Kong; Sri Lanka reinstates PM 

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China to share investor identities with Hong Kong; Sri Lanka reinstates PM 

GREATER CHINA

* Li Yuanxiang and Chen Xinying, vice CEOs of Ping An Insurance (Group) Co. of China Ltd., as well as Xie Yonglin, vice general manager of Ping An Group, all became co-CEOs for the company, Caixin reported.

* Orient Securities Co. Ltd. said Citigroup Global Markets Asia Ltd. will no longer extend its joint venture contract with the securities company and will transfer the 33.33% stake it holds in Citi Orient Securities Co. Ltd. to Orient Securities, the China Securities Journal reported.

* The board of directors of Silk Road Fund appointed Xie Duo, secretary-general of China's National Association of Financial Market Institutional Investors, to be chairman of the fund, Caixin reported. Jin Qi, the first chairman of the fund, retired from the post.

* The China Securities Regulatory Commission will begin collecting information regarding the identities of Chinese investors trading in Hong Kong via the Shanghai and Shenzhen stock connect schemes, the South China Morning Post reported. The information will be shared with Hong Kong's Securities and Futures Commission starting in the first quarter of 2019 to "enhance market surveillance."

JAPAN AND KOREA

* Meiji Yasuda Life Insurance Co. will introduce U.S. dollar-denominated savings-based whole life insurance in February 2019, The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun reported. The move comes amid a prolonged low interest rate environment at home, as the company tries to appeal to customers with products that offer relatively high yields.

* Fukuoka Financial Group Inc., which is merging Eighteenth Bank Ltd. with unit Shinwa Bank Ltd., will transfer about half ¥100 billion in loans to other financial institutions by the end of 2018, The Nikkei reported, citing Fukuoka Financial President Takashige Shibato. Japan's Fair Trade Commission had requested the company to sell about ¥100 billion in loans by April 2019 in order to reduce the market share of the combined entity.

* According to a recent report by Korea Institute of Finance, internet banking services are used more than 100 million times daily in South Korea, in transactions worth a total of 53 trillion won, the Seoul Business Newspaper reported.

* South Korea's KB Financial Group Inc. will confirm the appointment of seven new CEOs at its affiliates, including KB Securities Co. Ltd., on Dec 19, The Chosun Ilbo reported.

ASEAN

* The Bank of Thailand's monetary policy committee is expected to raise the policy rate by 25 basis points at its final meeting for 2018 on Dec. 19, Post Today reported, citing Kasikorn Research Center.

* Thailand's Government Housing Bank pledged to keep its lending rates low, despite possible rate hikes by the Bank of Thailand, Post Today reported, citing bank President Chatchai Sirilai. If the monetary policy committee raises the rate by 25 basis points, the lender will increase its lending rate by just 12.5 basis points to prevent any impact on borrowers' monthly repayments, Chatchai said.

* PT Bank Muamalat Indonesia Tbk and Al Rajhi Banking & Investment Corp. (Malaysia) Bhd. signed a cooperation agreement on the remittance of Saudi Arabian riyal for payments of pilgrims during their time in Saudi Arabia, Infobank reported. Bank Muamalat has the biggest share of haj funds among Shariah banks in Indonesia, said bank CEO Achmad K. Permana.

SOUTH ASIA

* Mastercard Inc. will begin deleting Indian cardholders' data from global servers to comply with the Reserve Bank of India's requirement to have that data stored locally, the Press Trust of India reported. The company, however, warned that the move would weaken security and safety over time.

* The Reserve Bank of India expects that about four of the 11 banks placed under the prompt corrective action framework may see lending restrictions lifted with the help of capital infusions, The Times of India reported. The central bank reportedly discussed the matter during its Dec. 14 meeting and will review banks' progress before it holds its next meeting in January 2019.

* Sri Lanka reinstated Ranil Wickremesinghe as prime minister following the resignation of Mahinda Rajapaksa, The Associated Press reported. Rajapaksa resigned from the role after failing to secure a majority of the 225-member parliament. On Dec. 12, Wickremesinghe secured the support of 117 lawmakers, forcing President Maithripala Sirisena to reappoint him after firing him two months earlier.

* Fitch Ratings lowered Pakistan's long-term foreign-currency issuer default rating to B- from B with a stable outlook, citing increased external financing risks amid low reserves and high external debt repayments.

AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND

* Australia's four biggest banks could inject more capital into their New Zealand subsidiaries or conduct capital raisings, following the Reserve Bank of New Zealand's proposal to nearly double the required high-quality capital held by local banks, The Australian reported. Australia's big banks are assessing the impact of the proposal, which is subject to consultation until March 29, 2019.

* Commonwealth Bank of Australia will begin offering Apple Pay to customers, making it the second major bank after Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. to offer the service to customers, The Australian reported. The bank's New Zealand subsidiary will also offer the service beginning in 2019, The New Zealand Herald reported.

* Australia could become a cashless society in a few years as tap-and-go payment systems and online payments gain popularity, The Sydney Morning Herald reported. Richard Holden, an economics professor, said the transition could happen in three years, while Reserve Bank of Australia Governor Philip Lowe said the country is at a turning point and that he believes cash will become a niche payment. Data from the central bank said only 37% of households use cash for spending, down from 69% a decade ago.

Hoi Chan, Sally Wang, Sarun Saelee, Cathy Hwang, Emi White and Aditya Suharmoko contributed to this report.

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