* has steppedup its hiring spree in the Asia Pacific, as CEO Tidjane Thiam said it is the besttime to attract talent while rival financial institutions are retreating from theregion, Bloomberg News reported.The lender added 50 bankers in Australia in 2016, The Australian reportedseparately, citing John Knox, Credit Suisse Australia chief.
* Taiwan'sCathay Life Insurance Co. Ltd.increased its stake in Manila-based RizalCommercial Banking Corp. to 22.71% from 22.3%, BusinessWorld reported.Top shareholder Pan Malayan Management and Investment Corp. also increased its stakein the bank to 42.31% from 41.68%.
* KoreaExchange Chairman Kyung-soo Choi said currency differences among Asian countriesis the main hurdle to collaboration among the various securities exchanges in theregion, FinanceAsia reported.The currency differences affect clearing and settlements, capital flow and foreignexchange reserves, he said.
* A reportby China Everbright Bank Co. Ltd.and Boston Consulting Group said Chinese market-managed assets reached 93 trillionyuan by the end of 2015, with an average growth rate of 51% for the last three years,Shanghai Securities News reported. Thereport predicted that China's managed asset scale would reach 174 trillion yuanby 2020.
* A reportby Bloomberg economists Tom Orlik and Fielding Chen said China retains significanttools to stave off problems related to financial stability and risk remains undercontrol, Shanghai Securities News reported.
* Taiwan'scentral bank said foreign exchange reserves on the island reached US$431.60 billionat the end of March, an increase of US$2.79 billion from January, the Liberty Times reported. Thebank attributed the increase to investment returns, the appreciation of the euroand other reserve currencies against the U.S. dollar.
* Taiwan'sMinistry of Finance said it expects the National Stabilization Fund to be deauthorizedwhen the fund's management committee meets April 12 to decide on whether to continuethe fund, the China Times reported.Wu Tang-chieh, vice finance minister and executive secretary of the fund's managementcommittee, said its members do not intend to renew the fund.
* is closing seven Taiwanese branches in April, the biggest single closure for a foreignbank on the island, the China Times reported.Citigroup Inc.'s and HSBC haveclosed four branches in Taiwan since March.
JAPAN AND KOREA
* Accordingto data released by Japan's Ministry of Finance, government bonds for private investorsattracted the highest subscription amount since January 2014 in March amid a lowinterest rate environment, The Nikkeireported.The amount of subscription was ¥400 billion, compared with ¥230 billion in February.
* Japan'smajor banks are moving to apply fees on certain deposit accounts for institutionalinvestors, The Asahi Shimbun reported. However,the companies are still cautious about applying fees to businesses and private customers,according to bank executives.
* Thepremium income of Japan's three largest general insurers increased by 3.4% yearover year to ¥7.6 trillion in fiscal 2015, the largest such increase since 2009,The Nikkei reported.
* Japan'sORIX Corp. plans to issueUS$500 million worth of bonds as early as April 13, The Nikkei reported.The capital raising is aimed at financing operations such as aircraft leasing.
* JapanesePrime Minister Shinzo Abe directed his cabinet to use 80% of the government's publicworks budget during the first half of fiscal 2016, The Japan News reported.Japan's government has allocated US$109 billion for public works for 2016. The premiersaid fully utilizing the budget and trickling down the effects to the constructionindustry and other private businesses can help boost the economy.
* SouthKorean Financial Services Commission Chairman Yim Jong-yong said the country needsto have a brokerage with competitive investment banking operations, The Korea Herald reported. The executivealso supported recent mergers among South Korean brokerages.
* has collaboratedwith Korea Energy Agency to cooperate in alternative energy, energy efficiency andclimate change mitigation, The Korea Heraldreported. KDBSenior Executive Vice President Ryu Hee-gyeong said the bank will exert effortsto extend financial support to companies in the field.
* Membercommercial banks of the Thai Bankers' Association agreed to waive fees on interprovincialcash withdrawals from ATMs and deposits through cash acceptance machines to promotetourism in Thailand during the country's Songkran festival from April 13 to April17, Post Today reported.
* Post Today reported that has furtherslashed its minimum lending rate by 10 basis points to 6.275%, effective April 7.Previously, the bank announced a rate cut of 15 basis points, aimed at driving theThai economy.
* said thatas of April 1, 31,352 people have applied for loans totaling 34.53 billion bahtunder the government's housing project for low income earners in Thailand, Krungthep Turakij reported. About 60% to 70% of the applicants areexpected to get their loans approved.
* Thai Rath reported that Thailand's FinanceMinistry revoked the operating license of Promise Insurance PCL, citing its unhealthyfinancial state and legal violations, according to the Office of Insurance Commission.
* aims to issue35,000 new credit cards until the end of 2016, focusing on affluent segments, Bisnis Indonesia reported,citing CEO Freenyan Liwang.
* ,a unit of Allianz Malaysia Bhd.,is aiming to gain 10,000 new clients with its new universal saving plan, Bernamareported,citing Chin Tze How, the company's chief officer of strategy and product division.
* Indianbanks will reject Vijay Mallya's offer to repay 40 billion rupees, or nearly halfthe amount his defunct Kingfisher Airlines owes to lenders, Reuters reported,citing sources with knowledge of the matter. The banks, led by , will announce thedecision at a Supreme Court hearing.
* India'sICICI Bank Ltd. decidedto tighten year-on-year corporate lending growth to about 10%, Business Standard reported.ICICI Bank has the largest corporate loan book among the country's privately ownedlenders, the report added.
* unit PNB HousingFinance Ltd. raised 5 billion Indian rupees from the World Bank's , the PressTrust of India reported.The amount will be used to fund green residential projects.
* Nearly120.9 billion rupees were deposited in India's newly established Bandhan Bank duringfiscal 2015-2016, Business Standard reported.The bank saw nearly 25% to 30% growth in deposits during the period.
AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND
* AustraliaPrime Minister Malcolm Turnbull lashed out at major banks in the country for ill-treatingtheir customers, The Australian reported.The premier warned the lenders that such conduct could endanger their social licenses.
* AustralianSecurities and Investments Commission Chairman Greg Medcraft clarified he did notcall for changing the law to hold directors accountable for cultural violations,particularly at the country's biggest lenders, The Australian Financial Review reported.Medcraft said he meant that bank directors may be forced to comply with regulationsif they do not proactively fix their corporate culture.
* NewZealand Finance Minister Bill English expects the government to net a NZ$300 millionto NZ$350 million special dividend from the sale of a 45% stake in , the New Zealand Herald reported,citing an interview.
IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD
* U.K.-basedBarclays Plc launcheda partnership with Circle Internet Financial, a U.S.-based firm that uses bitcointo transfer central bank currencies, the FinancialTimes reported,citing the two companies. It is the first time a European bank has allowed a digitalcurrency firm to use its infrastructure, the publication noted.
* Italy'slegislature adopted a bill allowing banks to off-load some of the €200 billion badloans the lenders piled up during three years of recession, Reuters reported.The plan will let banks swap the loans with securities.
* Barclays,HSBC Holdings Plc andRoyal Bank of Scotland Plcplan to shut down 400 branches in Britain in 2016, Reuters reported,citing people familiar with the situation. HSBC is likely to close 200 branches,the most of the three banks.
* ThePuerto Rico legislature empowered Gov. Alejandro García Padilla to declare a stateof emergency and halt payments to creditors until January 2017, the Financial Times reported,citing a bill. The bill will impose a moratorium on debt obligations of the state.
Sally Wang, Sarun Saelee, CathyHwang, Emi White and Aditya Suharmoko contributed to this report.
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