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Barclays to double dividend; Axa FY'17 profit up 7%; Deutsche Bank's Brexit move

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Barclays to double dividend; Axa FY'17 profit up 7%; Deutsche Bank's Brexit move

* The U.K. asserted that a Brexit transition period will have a fixed end-date after a leaked government document suggested that Britain would seek a longer bridging phase if needed, The Guardian reported. A government position paper shared with EU member states showed the U.K. supporting a two-year transition period, but officials also wanted to discuss a flexible duration with the EU.

UK AND IRELAND

* Barclays Plc reported full-year 2017 group loss after tax attributable to ordinary equity holders of the parent of £1.92 billion, compared to a profit of £1.62 billion in 2016. The result included a one-off charge of £1.18 billion due to the reassessment of its deferred tax assets in the U.S. as a result of recent U.S. tax reforms. For 2018, the British lender expects to pay a total cash dividend of 6.5 pence per share, compared to the 2017 dividend of 3.0 pence per share.

* RSA Insurance Group Plc reported full-year 2017 statutory profit attributable to equity holders of the parent company of £289 million, compared to £27 million a year ago.

* The U.K. Treasury Select Committee approved Charles Randell's appointment as chairman of the Financial Conduct Authority, The Guardian reported. The committee also launched an inquiry into digital currencies and the underlying distributed ledger technology to examine their potential risks and benefits to consumers, businesses, and the government.

* Conister Bank Ltd., Manx Financial Group Plc's wholly owned subsidiary in the Isle of Man, acquired a 40% stake in The Business Lending Exchange Ltd. and entered into a £4 million wholesale funding agreement with the company.

* U.K. online investment platform AJ Bell is planning a London IPO that could potentially be launched around the fourth quarter at the earliest, insiders told Sky News.

* Bermuda-based, London-listed Hiscox Ltd. stopped writing aviation hull and liability business insurance at its Lloyd's of London operation, according to The Insurance Insider.

* Bank of Ireland Group Plc Chairman Archie Kane intends to step down before 2018-end.

GERMANY, SWITZERLAND AND AUSTRIA

* Deutsche Bank AG is stepping up plans to move its primary global booking hub for corporate and investment bank clients to Frankfurt from London in response to Britain's impending departure from the EU. The lender intends to move the hub over the course of 2018, unless a transition deal between the U.K. and the EU is agreed.

* Deutsche Börse AG's new CEO Theodor Weimer said he fears political disadvantages arising from the perceived inactivity of the German government to promote Frankfurt as a financial center, Neue Zürcher Zeitung noted. The stock exchange operator is aiming for a 25% market share in the euro clearing market.

* Ulrike Brouzi, currently COO and CFO at Norddeutsche Landesbank Girozentrale, will join DZ Bank AG's board of managing directors Sept. 1 and take on the role of CFO as co-CEOs Uwe Fröhlich and Cornelius Riese begin their terms at the start of 2019.

* Germany's center-left Social Democrats dismissed a report from German daily Die Zeit that the party agreed to support Deutsche Bundesbank President Jens Weidmann as the next ECB president, insiders told Reuters.

* The Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority is investigating several unnamed Swiss lenders over their possible involvement in a corruption scandal surrounding Petroleos de Venezuela SA, Reuters reported. U.S. authorities have accused a number of Venezuelan officials of seeking bribes to help vendors secure energy contracts with Venezuela's state-run oil company and hiding the money in banks, some of which were in Switzerland. Tages-Anzeiger reported that Zurich-based asset management firm Eagle Wealth Management AG is suspected to have administered accounts for the officials.

* Doris Leuthard, a member of the Swiss Federal Council who has been rumored to become chairwoman of Raiffeisen Gruppe Switzerland, said she does not seek any corporate mandates after her term ends in 2019, Aargauer Zeitung wrote.

* Austria's justice ministry will close legal proceedings against Julius Meinl V, former chairman of Meinl Bank AG, and three former chief executives of the bank, who were accused of embezzlement by allegedly unlawfully extracting a special dividend of €212 million from the bank in 2009, Die Presse reported.

FRANCE AND BENELUX

* Axa reported full-year 2017 net income of €6.21 billion, up 7% from the restated €5.83 billion in the year-ago period.

* Scor SE reported fourth-quarter 2017 consolidated net income, group share, of €261 million, up from the year-ago €165 million. For full year 2017, the French reinsurance company posted net income of €286 million, down from €603 million earned in 2016.

* CNP Assurances SA reported full-year 2017 attributable net profit of €1.29 billion, up from €1.20 billion in the prior-year period.

* KBC Group NV reported fourth-quarter 2017 profit attributable to equity holders of the parent of €399 million, down from €685 million in the year-ago period.

* A startup accelerator called French Assurtech has been set up in Niort, France by a collective of five large mutual insurance companies, with projects on autonomous vehicles, health, artificial insurance and blockchain technology the first to be selected, La Tribune reported.

SPAIN AND PORTUGAL

* Carlos José da Silva will step down as vice chairman and a director of Millennium BCP but will remain as chairman of Banco Atlântico Europa SA, Jornal de Negócios wrote. He has been called to testify regarding Operation Fizz, which accuses former Angolan Vice President Manuel Vicente of corruption during his time as president of state oil company Sonangol — Sociedade Nacional de Combustíveis de Angola EP.

ITALY AND GREECE

* Generali will increase investment in green sectors by €3.5 billion, mainly through green bonds and green infrastructures, by 2020 and will cease making new investments in businesses associated with the coal sector. The Italian insurance group will also dispose of coal-related equity investments and gradually eliminate bond investments.

NORDIC COUNTRIES

* Nordea Bank AB (publ) is secretly trying to sell the ongoing operation and administration business of its Danish property management company, Nordea Ejendomme, according to Finans.

* Storebrand ASA's asset management unit is looking to expand its business into Europe, Realtid reported. Until now, Storebrand Asset Management has operated only in Norway and Sweden.

EASTERN EUROPE

* An ad-hoc creditor group holding 27.5% of defaulted Russian Standard Ltd.'s eurobond, secured with a 49% stake in AO Russian Standard Bank, rejected the company's restructuring proposal, maintaining its plans to call the notes due, Reuters reported.

* The Russian central bank placed JSC Bank Sovetsky into provisional administration of its banking sector consolidation fund, which will analyze the financial situation at the bank to determine the prospects of implementing measures preventing the lender's bankruptcy, Vedomosti and Kommersant reported.

* Ukraine plans to sell its entire holdings in state-owned PJSC JSB Ukrgasbank and PAO KB Privatbank by 2020 and 2022, respectively, Delo.ua reported, citing Ukrainian Finance Minister Oleksandr Danylyuk. The official also noted that the government plans to reduce the state's share in the banking sector to 24% of total assets from 55% in the medium term.

* The Ukrainian central bank believes there is a need to prolong sanctions imposed on the local units of Russian state-owned banks in March 2017, according to Delo.ua. The sanctions prohibit the affected Ukrainian lenders from carrying out any financial transactions in favor of the parent banks, but allow for the sale of the Ukrainian units.

* Bulgarian President Rumen Radev vetoed legislative changes to the country's Bank Insolvency Act due to the retroactive nature of some of the amendments, SEENews reported. The changes, proposed by three lawmakers from the opposition Movement for Rights and Freedoms party, are aimed at ensuring the proper handling of the disposal of assets of bankrupt Corporate Commercial Bank AD.

* Bulgaria's Financial Supervision Commission allowed Lev Ins AD Insurance Company to increase its holding in Life Insurance Institute to 63.68% from 49.08%.

IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD

Asia-Pacific: South Korea to invest in startups; India probes auditors in bank fraud

Middle East & Africa: Samba Q4'17 profit rises 11.38% YOY; South Africa ups VAT; Zambia cuts rate

Latin America: Grupo Elektra Q4'17 profit nosedives; Principal-MetLife Afore merger completed

North America: Morgan Stanley drops some global clients; Flagstar buying Santander portfolio

North America Insurance: US to ease curbs on short-term insurance; MetLife sells Mexican pension fund biz

NOW FEATURED ON S&P GLOBAL MARKET INTELLIGENCE

ECB blindsided by Latvian financial scandal as wind-up looms for top bank: A money laundering scandal engulfing both the third-largest bank and the top regulator in the Baltic country has highlighted the ECB's lack of power to fight financial crime in its own jurisdiction.

Data Dispatch EMEA: Fixed-rate mortgage shift to prompt Spanish bank funding rethink: Spanish borrowers are increasingly taking out fixed-rate mortgages, as the gap between their pricing and that of floating-rate products narrows.

Deutsche Börse CEO: Euro clearing must move to continental Europe after Brexit: European politicians must do anything in their power to bring euro clearing to the continent after Brexit, and Berlin in particular must fight to take as much of that business as possible to Germany, new Deutsche Börse chief Theodor Weimer said.

Lloyds to ramp up focus on digitization with £3B investment: The plan is intended to cut costs, while concerns over PPI payouts remain a worry for the British lender, which reported full-year 2017 earnings figures that showed "a lot to like," according to an analyst.

Ageas hoping for end to investor battle after 'roller-coaster' 2017: CEO: The insurer expects the Amsterdam Court of Appeal to make a decision on its latest settlement offer to shareholders "before the summer," said CEO Bart De Smet.

Leo Magno, Arno Maierbrugger, Danielle Rossingh, Esben Svendsen, Beata Fojcik, Yael Schrage, Brian McCulloch, Sophie Davies and Helen Popper contributed to this report.

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