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Woori Bank to restructure; Inditrade Capital exits broker unit; CBA may cut jobs

GREATER CHINA

* The People's Bank of China will allow overseas yuan clearing banks to conduct more businesses, such as interbank borrowing, cross-border account financing and bond repurchases under the current policy framework, Xinhua News Agency reported, citing an official statement. The central bank would also ensure effective bilateral currency swap deals to facilitate trade and investment and enhance currency exchanges. The move is part of the government's efforts to further open up the local financial sector to foreign players.

* London Stock Exchange Group PLC has set out details of the London-Shanghai Stock Connect scheme, under which Chinese companies will be allowed to sell global depository receipts in the U.K. and London-traded firms will be allowed to list similar securities in Shanghai, Bloomberg News reported, citing a presentation seen by the news outlet. The securities issued by Chinese entities will appear on the so-called Shanghai Board later in 2018, according to the London exchange operator.

* The Shanghai Stock Exchange and the Budapest Stock Exchange entered into a memorandum of understanding to boost cooperation on information sharing, personnel exchange, as well as product development, Xinhua News Agency reported, citing a statement from the Chinese exchange. Richárd Végh, CEO of the Hungarian bourse, expects the two exchanges to explore possibilities for further collaboration on market data, cross-border exchange traded funds and connectivity.

* Ant Financial Services Group is set to close a US$10 billion private funding round, valuing the Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. affiliate at US$150 billion, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing anonymous sources. The deal is said to bar entities investing in Ant Financial from investing in or increasing their stakes in companies controlled by major rivals, such as social media company Tencent Holdings Ltd. and e-commerce firm JD.com Inc.

JAPAN AND KOREA

* Japan's Financial Services Agency directed regional banks to limit potential losses on their foreign bonds and other securities to within the amount of their core lending business' income or equity capital, Reuters reported, citing two unnamed sources. Local lenders are currently not obliged to book losses on their securities investments until they are realized, the news agency said.

* Japan-based Michinoku Bank Ltd. said it has uncovered 17 irregular loans worth ¥250 million at its head office and seven branches in the Aomori Prefecture, Japan, The Mainichi Shimbun reported.

* Japan Post Bank Co. Ltd. will begin to roll out a mobile payment service using quick response, or QR, codes in February 2019, the country's Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun reported.

* South Korea's Woori Bank plans to convert into a holding company by early 2019 as part of efforts to expand its business portfolio into asset management, real estate and other financial services, Yonhap News Agency reported. The company, which is 18.5% owned by the government, is the only commercial bank in the country that has not transformed itself into a holding firm due to the delayed process of its stake divestments.

* South Korea-based KB Kookmin Bank converted its U.K. subsidiary into a branch in London, The Chosun Ilbo in South Korea reported. The transition will allow the bank to raise funds based on its parent's creditworthiness. The branch previously faced a limit when raising funds because of a lack of credit rating, the report said.

* Export-Import Bank of Korea plans to raise up to US$1.5 billion from a bond issuance in May, the Maeil Business Newspaper in South Korea reported, citing industry sources. The South Korean bank issued US$2 billion of bonds in October 2017.

* The board of South Korea's Shinhan Financial Group Co. Ltd. approved a plan to raise about 540 billion won from a hybrid securities issuance on the Asian market, The Financial News in South Korea reported. There will be a built-in option that allows Shinhan Financial Group to call back the debt.

ASEAN

* Predee Daochai, head of the Thai Bankers' Association, said lenders will abide by the central bank's regulations banning banks from engaging in digital currency trading activities even as the royal decree to regulate digital asset-related transactions comes into force, Thailand's Post Today reported.

* Indonesia's Financial Services Authority has suspended financing company PT Sun Prima Nusantara Pembiayaan for failing to disclose certain information regarding its medium-term notes, Bisnis Indonesia reported.

* Indonesia-based PT Bank Pembangunan Daerah Jawa Tengah may suspend its planned IPO to 2020 from 2019 as it seeks to grow capital first before the listing, Bisnis Indonesia reported.

* Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Deputy Governor Diwa Guinigundo said Philippine lenders are no longer required to secure the central bank's approval to convert foreign currency loans granted by banks to peso loans, as well as for the transfer of such loans from foreign currency deposit unit books to regular accounts. The move is in line with the central bank's push to further ease foreign exchange rules while maintaining a healthy financial system.

* Land Bank of the Philippines is eyeing to sign agreements to acquire a controlling stake in Philippine Dealing System Holdings Corp., or PDS Holdings, by June, BusinessWorld reported, citing Alex Buenaventura, president and CEO of the state-run lender. The bank has been looking to buy a 66.67% stake in PDS Holdings at 360 pesos apiece.

* The State Bank of Vietnam told local credit institutions to strictly follow previous legal documents on civil loans and credit card issuance, requiring them to disclose their lending activities, such as standardized contracts listing, informing customers about lending rates and coming up with concrete interest rate determinants, Viet Nam News reported. The central bank is also working on implementing more in-depth rules on uniform loan interest rates to avoid fraudulent lending.

SOUTH ASIA

* Union Bank of India plans to raise up to 74 billion rupees for the financial year ending March 31, 2019, by way of core equity capital or bonds, subject to shareholder approval. The lender said the money that can be raised through equity capital should not exceed 68.50 billion rupees, while the maximum issuance of additional Tier 1 or Tier 2 bonds is at 37 billion rupees.

* India-based Inditrade Capital Ltd. agreed to sell its equity broking business to Choice Equity Broking Pvt. Ltd. for 320 million rupees, subject to statutory and regulatory approvals. This confirms an earlier report that Inditrade Capital will exit its equity broking unit as it shifts its focus to lending to unbanked customers, among other areas.

* South Indian Bank Ltd. was fined 50 million rupees by the Reserve Bank of India over noncompliance with income recognition and asset classification rules, know-your-customer norms and treasury functioning. The bank was also found to have deficiencies in its compliance function and culture.

* Indian conglomerate Adani Group committed an initial 5-billion-rupee capital to its lending arm, Adani Capital, as it seeks to expand its financial services business, The Economic Times reported. The company, which has 200 employees across 19 branches, aims to finance 100,000 rupees to 500 million rupees across farm, commercial vehicle and business loan segments.

AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND

* Commonwealth Bank of Australia reportedly told its staff that it was restructuring its markets team, with a number of positions expected to go, The Australian Financial Review's Street Talk blog said. According to the publication, the sales division, where bankers and traders structure and sell products to external clients, will be separated from the trading division, which executes the trades.

* Macquarie Group Ltd. is said to be hoping that Sydney-based financial advisory firm Bell Potter hire some of the group's stockbroking and financial advisers laid off in the week of May 14, The Australian Financial Review reported. Sources said more than 55 employees were axed after Macquarie announced the consolidation of its private bank and private wealth divisions. Meanwhile, other firms, such as Shaw and Partners and Ord Minnett, reportedly initiated talks with advisers affected by the move.

* ANZ Bank New Zealand Ltd. is offering up to NZ$100 million of unsecured unsubordinated fixed-rate bonds to New Zealand retail and institutional investors, with the ability to accept unlimited oversubscriptions at the group's discretion. The bonds bear an indicative margin of 1.00% to 1.05% per year and will mature May 30, 2023. The offer kicks off May 21 and expected to close May 24.

* New Zealand-based CBL Corp. Ltd.'s voluntary administrators, Brendon Gibson and Neale Jackson of advisory and investment firm KordaMentha, adjourned a creditors' watershed meeting May 18, as there would be a voting stalemate on whether to put CBL into liquidation or hand control back to its directors. The watershed meeting will now occur no later than July 2. Earlier in 2018, KordaMentha was appointed as CBL's voluntary administrator after local and overseas regulators questioned the adequacy of the company's reserve levels.

Janna Estares, Sally Wang, Jonathan Cheah, Jaekwon Lim and Santibhap Ussavasodhi contributed to this report.

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