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Prudential, L&G, Zurich report earnings; Italy eyes Monte dei Paschi sale

UK AND IRELAND

* Prudential PLC reported first-half IFRS profit after tax of £1.36 billion, down 10% from £1.51 billion a year earlier, largely because of a £513 million pretax loss on the reinsurance of £12 billion of U.K. bulk annuities to Rothesay Life. The life insurer also announced a first interim dividend of 15.67 pence per share, up from the 14.50 pence per share interim dividend it paid for the first half of 2017.

* Legal & General Group PLC declared an interim dividend of 4.60 pence per share for the first half, up from 4.30 pence per share a year earlier, despite a year-over-year drop in first-half IFRS profit attributable to equity holders of the company to £771 million from £946 million.

* China's Ping An Insurance (Group) Co. is considering acquiring Prudential's Asia business and has discussed financing options with banks for a potential deal, insiders told Bloomberg News. The business could be valued at £40 billion, the newswire noted. However, Prudential CEO Mike Wells said the insurer is not in any talks to sell its Asian operation.

* Recently listed U.K.-based asset manager Quilter PLC, formerly Old Mutual Wealth, will pay a special dividend of 12.0 pence per share from the surplus proceeds generated by the sale of its single-strategy asset management business.

* HSBC Holdings PLC transferred ownership control of its Irish and Polish subsidiaries to HSBC France SA from London-based entity HSBC Bank PLC to ensure the bank could continue to serve European customers after Brexit, Reuters reported. Control of operations in Belgium, the Czech Republic, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Spain will also be shifted to HSBC France during the first quarter of 2019.

GERMANY, SWITZERLAND AND AUSTRIA

* Zurich Insurance Group AG reported first-half after-tax net income attributable to shareholders of $1.79 billion, up 19% from the year-ago $1.50 billion. Zurich noted that it remains "well positioned" to deliver on its 2017 to 2019 financial targets, with cumulative cost savings of approximately $900 million of the targeted $1.5 billion achieved as of June 30.

* Hannover Re reported second-quarter group net income of €281.9 million, up from €270.2 million in the same period in 2017, as gross written premium increased.

* Austria's Raiffeisen Bank International AG reported second-quarter consolidated profit of €357 million, down from €367 million a year earlier, although operating income was up.

* Switzerland-based fintech firm Advanon said it has fallen victim to a "massive" fraud case after a Swiss trading firm allegedly sold certain invoices on the company's online marketplace that may have been falsified.

* Germany-based Norddeutsche Landesbank Girozentrale, or NORD L/B, plans to sell a portfolio of nonperforming loans at a volume of at least €2 billion and is currently in talks with potential investors, Die Welt reported, citing Bloomberg News.

* Switzerland's PostFinance AG said it concluded its consultation process on planned job cutting measures and confirmed it will reduce staff by 500 full-time posts by the end of 2020.

* Germany's UniCredit Bank AG, or HypoVereinsbank, made provisions of €339 million in the first half of 2018 for legal disputes in the U.S., Börsen-Zeitung wrote.

* Erich Pfister, former head private banking of Falcon Private Bank Ltd., has been appointed CEO of Oddo BHF (Switzerland) AG to push the German-French bank’s expansion in Switzerland, Finews wrote.

FRANCE AND BENELUX

* Belgium-based KBC Group NV reported second-quarter profit attributable to equity holders of the parent of €692 million under IFRS, down from €855 million under IAS 39 a year earlier. Unit KBC Bank Ireland PLC agreed to sell part of its legacy portfolio, amounting to roughly €1.9 billion, to Goldman Sachs.

* Belgian insurer Ageas SA/NV CEO Bart De Smet said the insurer is interested in boosting its position in the nonlife insurance market in Belgium and Portugal through acquisitions. De Smet also told L'Echo the company had received no confirmation of a rumored buy-out attempt by Chinese group Fosun.

* Dutch insurer Aegon NV is set to introduce a second investment worth €100 million fund to participate in new fintech companies, Het Financieele Dagblad reported. The new fund will focus on European companies, whereas the existing fund is aimed at U.S. companies.

SPAIN AND PORTUGAL

* Bankia SA and the European Investment Bank executed an agreement under which they will provide a total of €150 million in financing at favorable conditions to SMEs and midcap firms, Europa Press reported.

ITALY AND GREECE

* Italy's economy minister, Giovanni Tria, said the country plans to sell its stake in state-controlled Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena SpA in remarks that seemed at odds with comments made by senior members of Italy's ruling coalition, Reuters wrote. The League's economic spokesman, Claudio Borghi, previously said the government would retain control of the bank and use it to provide financing to local communities.

* Illimity, the entity resulting from special purpose acquisition vehicle Spaxs's purchase of Banca Interprovinciale SpA, is looking to buy nonperforming loans amounting to €2 billion through 2018, Reuters reported, citing CEO Corrado Passera.

* Banca Carige SpA's board granted Bain Capital Credit LP a period of exclusivity until Oct. 15 regarding the sale of an unlikely-to-pay loan portfolio with a gross book value of up to €400 million. Meanwhile, Carige saw the resignation of another board member, Il Sole 24 Ore reported.

* Crédit Agricole Cariparma SpA formalized the sale of €700 million in nonrecourse nonperforming loans to Pacific Investment Management Company, or Pimco, that will be supported by Phoenix Asset Management, Il Sole 24 Ore wrote.

* Greece's Piraeus Bank SA agreed to sell its 98.83% stake in Albania-based Tirana Bank sh.a. to Balfin Group and Komercijalna Banka AD Skopje for a total consideration of about €57.3 million.

NORDIC COUNTRIES

* Oslo-based niche bank Shippingbanken Maritime & Merchant plans to proceed with a stock market listing in 2019, FinansWatch reported. Halvor Sveen, the bank's CEO, said a public listing will enable the bank to better access the capital it needs to grow within its core areas of lending and linked operations.

* Djurslands Bank A/S has upgraded its pretax profit expectations for 2018 to between 90 million Danish kroner and 105 million kroner, based on a stronger-than-anticipated second-quarter result and the prospect of an equally solid third- and fourth-quarter performance, reported Berlingske Tidende.

EASTERN EUROPE

* The Serbian Commission for the Protection of Competition allowed PPF Group NV to acquire a 100% holding in Serbia-based Telenor banka a.d. Beograd from Telenor ASA, news service eKapija reported.

* The Russian central bank, concerned about the rapid growth of consumer lending, said local lenders will have to take into account customers' debt-to-income ratios when issuing unsecured loans from 2020, Kommersant reported.

IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD

Asia-Pacific: Dai-ichi Life unit to buy Suncorp life business; New Zealand holds cash rate

Middle East & Africa: Mizrahi Tefahot won't settle US probe for $342M; Saudi-Canada row escalates

Latin America: BTG Pactual's Q2 profit jumps 13.6%; Argentina holds key rate

North America: Regulators plan global sandbox; Goldman Sachs probed over 1MDB scandal

Global Insurance: Icahn faces 'uphill battle;' CVS/Aetna clear DoJ hurdle; disasters hit Munich Re

NOW FEATURED ON S&P GLOBAL MARKET INTELLIGENCE

ABN Amro preparing for new capital rules with corporate bank revamp: The Dutch banking group will scale back its corporate banking division as it looks to bulk up its capital position before the latest Basel III requirements take effect in 2022, CEO Kees van Dijkhuizen and CFO Clifford Abrahams said.

Prudential PLC CEO bats away rumors of Asian unit sale: Mike Wells told analysts there are no plans to sell the Asian business or spin off the U.S. operation, even as the insurer works to split its U.K. and Europe operations from the group.

Quilter, hived off from Old Mutual, 'still has a lot to do' as profits rise: CEO Paul Feeney said the business was where the company expected it to be at this stage, but added that "we still have a lot to do."

Ben Meggeson, Arno Maierbrugger, Meike Wijers, Gerard O'Dwyer, Beata Fojcik, Yael Schrage, Stephanie Salti, Praxilla Trabattoni and Helen Popper contributed to this report.

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