* The People's Bank of China denied a report that it delayed Mastercard Inc. and Visa Inc.'s entry into the country's payments market, the South China Morning Post reported. An unidentified official from the central bank's payments services license department told wallstreetcn.com that Mastercard retracted its application in June 2018 and Visa's application had problems and required additional documents.
* The Shanghai Stock Exchange sent a letter of inquiry to CITIC Securities Co. Ltd. seeking additional information in relation to its planned acquisition of Guangzhou Securities Co. Ltd from Guangzhou Yuexiu Financial Holdings Group Co. Ltd. The subject includes reason for the acquisition despite Guangzhou Securities' losses and the impact of the deal to the company's assets and employees.
* The Asset Management Association of China said it will no longer adopt annual inspections on fund qualification certificates, Shanghai Securities News reported.
* Taiwan's Life Insurance Association said the sector's first year premium increased 9.5% year over year to NT$1.38 trillion in 2018, marking the seventh straight year of FYP surpassing the NT$1 trillion mark, the Liberty Times reported.
* Taiwan's central bank said yuan deposits totaled 298.44 billion yuan at the end of December 2018, the first time it fell below 300 billion yuan after 51 months, the Central News Agency reported. Domestic banks held 264.47 billion yuan of deposits, while offshore banking units accounted for 33.97 billion yuan.
* Taiwan's Financial Supervisory Commission expects Brexit to have limited impact on the five Taiwanese banks operating in London, Central News Agency reported. The commission said the banks' risk exposure to the U.K. stood at NT$180.8 billion as of the end of 2017, and that the branches mainly handle international syndicated loans.
JAPAN AND KOREA
* Japan's Norinchukin Bank will set up a subsidiary in Amsterdam, The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun reported. The company currently has a subsidiary in London, but is looking to open a new subsidiary in the European continent by the end of 2019.
* Tokyo-based MS&AD Insurance Group Holdings Inc. formed a business tie-up with U.S.-based CoverHound Insurance Solutions, a platform for comparing and purchasing insurance, The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun reported. The company plans to develop new insurance products available through the platform.
* South Korea's KB Financial Group Inc. and LG Group signed a memorandum of agreement to co-develop new technologies for the financial sector, including blockchain-based businesses, cryptocurrency and artificial intelligence services, The Chosun Ilbo reported.
* The Bank of Thailand said rising interest rates will have no impact on the country's life insurance business, despite these companies mostly investing in bonds which are sensitive to rate changes, Post Today reported.
* CIMB Thai Bank PCL posted a net profit of 6.9 million baht in 2018, down 98.2% from 384.9 million baht in 2017 partly due to an increase in operating expenses and lower fee income and service revenues. The bank's nonperforming loans as of Dec. 31, 2018, totaled 9.9 billion baht, accounting for 4.3% of its total loans.
* Indonesian private lender PT Bank Central Asia Tbk will acquire one small bank in 2019, said CEO Jahja Setiaatmadja as reported by Bisnis Indonesia. He said BCA has allocated 4 trillion Indonesian rupiah for the acquisition.
* BCA is also in talks with Chinese digital payment providers Alipay and WeChat Pay to facilitate Chinese tourists using those payment methods in Indonesia, Kompas separately reported, citing the bank's CEO.
* PT Bank Syariah Mandiri will begin a roadshow at the end of 2019 to tap potential investors for its planned IPO in 2020, Bisnis Indonesia reported, citing finance director Ade Cahyo Nugroho.
* JSCB for Investment and Development of Vietnam's pre-tax profit for the full year 2018 increased 11% year over year to 9.62 trillion Vietnamese dong, Viet Nam News reported.
* Indiabulls Life Insurance Co. obtained preliminary approval from the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority to start its life insurance business, the Press Trust of India reported.
* The Indian government is considering consolidating IFCI Ltd.'s operations, selling noncore assets and changing top management, The Economic Times reported, citing a senior government official. The government owns a 56.42% stake in the nonbanking finance company.
* Multi Commodity Exchange of India Ltd.'s net profit after tax for the quarter ended Dec. 31, 2018, increased to 419.9 million rupees from 187.7 million rupees in the prior-year period. EPS rose to 8.26 rupees from 3.69 rupees.
* The Indian government is expected to approve a proposal to inject about 5 billion rupees into Export-Import Bank of India in their upcoming meeting on Jan. 16, the Press Trust of India reported, citing sources.
AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND
* Australian Ethical Investments Ltd. decided to sell its US$8.8 million worth of stake in IOOF Holdings Ltd. following regulatory scrutiny over the latter's operations, The Australian reported.
* The Australian Securities and Investments Commission imposed additional license conditions on Kaz Capital Pty Ltd amid concerns over the company's adequacy and effectiveness of compliance framework, including how it monitors its advisers.
* UBank, the digital arm of National Australia Bank Ltd., hiked interest rates on fixed-rate products by 20 basis points amid mounting pressure on the Reserve Bank of Australia to cut cash rates by up to 50 basis points, The Australian Financial Review reported.
IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD
Middle East & Africa: Egypt plots international bond sale in Q1; Zimbabwe to introduce new currency
Europe: MPS shares suspended; Swiss Re sees $1B nat cat claims burden; Tandem eyes IPO
Latin America: BNDES freezes advertising spending; Bradesco reshuffles management
North America: JPMorgan's Q4'18 EPS below consensus; PNC Bank buying Ambassador Financial
Global Insurance: UnitedHealth revenues up; Swiss Re sees $1B cat burden; new Lexington structure
Janna Estares, Sally Wang, Sarun Saelee, Cathy Hwang, Emi White and Aditya Suharmoko contributed to this report.
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