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South Korea OKs 3rd internet bank; Australia launches Westpac probe

GREATER CHINA

* The China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission is considering establishing rules to classify insurance intermediaries, which contribute more than 80% of insurance premiums, Beijing Business Today reported. The regulator plans to classify insurance intermediaries into four categories.

* Taiwan's Financial Supervisory Commission rejected Nan Shan Life Insurance Co. Ltd.'s selection of Yin Chung-yao as its acting chairman, citing a lack of experience, the Taipei Times reported. Following the rejection, the insurer's board of directors appointed Donald Chen to replace Yin, pending regulatory approval.

* Fitch Ratings revised its outlook on Macao to negative from stable, pointing to its increasing economic, financial and sociopolitical links with China, saying the links between the territory and the country "are consistent with a gradual convergence of their respective sovereign ratings." Fitch affirmed Macao's long-term foreign-currency issuer default rating at AA, noting that its economic policies, business and regulatory environments remain distinct from those of China.

* China's State Council told banks to reduce financing costs on loans to businesses with credit lines under 10 million yuan by 50 basis points in 2020, Caixin reported. The council also ordered the five largest state-owned commercial banks to lift the value of loans handed out to such companies by at least 20% next year.

* The People's Bank of China injected 300 billion yuan through medium-term loans at 3.25%, Bloomberg News reported. Of the total amount, 286 billion yuan was used to roll over loans that were due Sept. 16.

JAPAN AND KOREA

* Shiga Bank Ltd. will close nearly a quarter of its branches over a three-year period starting February 2020, Tokyo's The Nikkei reported, quoting President Shojiro Takahashi. The bank plans to close or merge 30 of its 133 branches.

* Nomura Holdings Inc. and San-in Godo Bank Ltd. are collaborating to achieve ¥800 billion in assets under management by September 2020 through the latter's newly established asset consulting arm, The Nikkei reported.

* Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp. has invested into Indian nonbank firm Northern Arc Capital Ltd. as part of the former's plan to open its third business location in India by 2020, The Nikkei reported. The Japanese company invested 5.4% in the Indian firm for an undisclosed amount, the publication noted.

* A consortium led by South Korea's Viva Republica has received clearance for Toss Bank's registration to become the country's third internet bank, the Chosun Ilbo reported, citing the Financial Services Commission. The online lender will have an initial capital of 250 billion won.

* SMBC Nikko Securities Inc. is planning to set up a wholly owned business in China, Reuters reported, quoting CEO Yoshihiko Shimizu. SMBC Nikko plans to almost double its recurring profit from overseas business over the next three years to about 20 billion yen, Yoshihiko added.

ASEAN

* Predee Daochai, president of Kasikornbank PCL, said its loan growth in 2019 is likely to come in at the lower end of its target range of 5% to 7% due to slower than expected economic growth, Manager Daily reported. Nonperforming loans are expected to remain near the current level of 80 billion baht, accounting for 3.7% of total loans, at the end of the year.

* Somjate Moosirilert, CEO of Thanachart Capital PCL, told the Stock Exchange of Thailand that the firm plans to spend 6 billion baht for a share repurchase program, which will run between Feb. 11 and Aug. 10, 2020, Krungthep Turakij reported. The company plans to buy back 97.04 million shares, or 8.33% of the total shares it previously sold.

* South Korea-based Kwangju Bank Ltd., a unit of JB Financial Group Co. Ltd., agreed to buy Morgan Stanley's Vietnam-based subsidiary Morgan Stanley Gateway Securities JSC for 382.4 billion dong, The Investor reported. The bank will also inject 600 billion dong into the Vietnamese brokerage. The acquisition is expected to take place in January 2020 and is subject to regulatory approvals in South Korea and Vietnam.

* The Philippines' BPI Family Savings Bank raised 9.6 billion pesos from its bond issuance, which was more than 4× oversubscribed, BusinessWorld reported.

SOUTH ASIA

* Reserve Bank of India Governor Shaktikanta Das said the central bank has reiterated that it has policy space for further rate cuts, Bloomberg News reported. "While taking a pause, we very carefully and definitively said there's space for further monetary action, but its timing will have to be decided," Das noted.

* India-based Equitas Small Finance Bank Ltd. filed a draft prospectus for an IPO, Mint reported, quoting two sources aware of the matter. The offering will be a mix of fresh issue and offer for sale. The bank expects to raise 5 billion rupees and its promoter Equitas Holdings Ltd. plans to sell 80 million shares through the offer for sale.

* IL&FS Transportation Networks Ltd., a unit of Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services Ltd., said in a disclosure that it defaulted on the payment of around 33.7 million rupees of dues on interest payable on redeemable nonconvertible debentures due to insufficient responses.

* India's Enforcement Directorate filed charges against Rakesh Wadhawan and Sarang Wadhawan under the country's Prevention of Money Laundering Act in connection with the alleged fraud at Punjab & Maharashtra Co-operative Bank Ltd.

AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND

* National Australia Bank Ltd. said about 730 employees had been underpaid for a total of about A$850,000, The Australian reported. The staff would be reimbursed in line with an enterprise agreement.

* The Australian Securities and Investments Commission said NAB group's superannuation trustee NULIS Nominees (Australia) Ltd. now meets the requirements of the additional license conditions after it implemented recommendations from KPMG, an independent body approved by the regulator. The license conditions were imposed on NULIS Nominees after breaches during 2015 and 2016, indicating failures in risk management and communication procedures.

* Jonathan Kearns, the Reserve Bank of Australia’s head of financial stability, said the role of large banks in the financial system could be challenged by technology-driven competitors, The Sydney Morning Herald reported. He pointed out that technology firms could use the vast amount of customer data at their disposal to beat banks in assessing loans.

* The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority levied additional capital requirements on Westpac Banking Corp. and launched an inquiry into the lender over the alleged claims by the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre, The Australian Financial Review reported.

* The Australian Securities and Investments Commission initiated legal action in the Federal Court of Australia against TAL LIfe Ltd. for allegedly making false statements to its clients, The Australian Financial Review reported.

IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD

Middle East & Africa: National Bank of Oman to exit Egypt; Fitch revises outlook on Cabo Verde

Europe: Deutsche eyes bonus cut; 2 German banks to begin M&A talks; Italian bank rescue

Latin America: BNDES mulls divesting stake in Petrobras; Brazil's B3 releases 2020 guidance

North America: Group files for Atlanta de novo; JPMorgan to up China investment

Global Insurance: Humana deal; US health insurance outlook; Mapfre warning; Japan Post probe

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

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