The most read financial stories in S&P Global Market Intelligence's Asia-Pacific coverage include Zurich Insurance's takeover of Cover-More, while editors' picks feature political uncertainties in South Korea amid the impeachment of its president.
1. Hong Kong authorities arrest 29 staff at 5 financial companies in bribery case
Hong Kong's Independent Commission Against Corruption arrested 29 serving and former employees of five financial institutions over bribery allegations. The arrests came after a media report revealed that more than 20 current and former staff at DBS Group Holdings Ltd. were arrested in Hong Kong in connection with an alleged leak of customer data.
2. Australia's Cover-More agrees to A$741M takeover offer from Zurich Insurance
Australia's Cover-More Group Ltd. entered into a scheme implementation agreement with Zurich Insurance Co. Ltd., under which Zurich Insurance will acquire Cover-More for A$741 million.
3. Chinese banks sign debt-for-equity swap deals
Bank of China Ltd. and five other Chinese banks have agreed to a debt restructuring deal with Sinosteel. China Construction Bank Corp. also signed a framework debt-to-equity swap agreement with Shanxi Coking Coal Group totaling US$3.62 billion, while Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd. signed a US$1.45 billion debt-for-equity swap with Shandong Gold Group.
4. Report: China's Minsheng battles US funds for Novo Banco
China Minsheng Financial Holding is reportedly competing against U.S. private equity funds Apollo Global Management LLC and Centerbridge Partners LP as well as private equity firm Lone Star Funds to buy Portugal's Novo Banco SA.
5. Aflac to incorporate Japanese branch by end of 2018
American Family Life Assurance Co. of Columbus, which operates as a branch of Aflac Inc., will set up a new office Jan. 1, 2017, to prepare for the branch's incorporation.
1. Political uncertainty clouds South Korea's economic prospects
Domestic observers expect South Korea's economy to face challenges following the passing of a bill in the National Assembly to impeach President Park Geun-hye. S&P Global Ratings said that the impeachment will have no material effect on South Korea's sovereign credit rating, with any impact on domestic economic sentiment likely to be temporary.
2. Data Dispatch Asia-Pacific: Rise in property lending at Chinese banks to continue despite government curbs
Mortgage lending is expected to continue to drive growth in property-related exposures at China's largest banks amid the government's efforts to restrict property prices. The China Banking Regulatory Commission has stepped in to curb mortgage lending and launched inspections at banks in 16 major cities.
3. Banking on Asia: In a break with tradition, Malaysia's banks take diverging routes
Malaysian banks are delivering with each and every recent earnings period a very mixed snapshot of their performance as they adapt to fast-changing markets, according to analyst Daniel Tabbush. Nonperforming loan formation and net profit growth trends are also moving in different directions, while the Malaysian House Price Index has been seeing muted increases since 2013.
4. South Korean insurers bracing for new accounting rule, readying capital
Capital raising across the insurance sector in South Korea is expected to accelerate in 2017 as local insurers prepare for an accounting rule change to be implemented in 2021. Under the new rule, insurance companies around the world will be required to reassess their liabilities based on market value rather than book value, as is currently the case.