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Basel targets banks inflating leverage ratios; Sabadell selling Solvia to Intrum

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Basel targets banks inflating leverage ratios; Sabadell selling Solvia to Intrum

* The Basel Committee on Banking Supervision proposed tightening rules to prevent banks from artificially boosting their leverage ratios, thereby creating a false impression of their core strength. The committee said it noticed heightened volatility in money markets and derivatives markets around key dates, suggesting potential regulatory arbitrage by some banks.

* The ECB confirmed that it will end its quantitative easing program at the end of the year and kept its interest rates unchanged. The regulator will cease additional asset purchases but will continue to reinvest the proceeds of the maturing debt purchased during the program to maintain a source of liquidity.

* The European Parliament approved a two-year extension of the euro overnight index average benchmark rate as its replacement, the euro short-term rate, will not be published until October 2019, Reuters reported.

UK AND IRELAND

* U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May confirmed that she will not lead her Conservative Party into the 2022 general election after surviving a no-confidence vote over her proposed Brexit deal.

* U.K.-based broker TP Icap PLC appointed Richard Berliand chairman, taking over from Rupert Robson after the company's annual general meeting May 15, 2019.

* British private equity firm AnaCap Financial Partners LLP signed an exclusivity arrangement to sell AssurOne Group SA to French holding company Societe Centrale Prevoir SA, subject to consultation with the relevant workers' council.

* Standard Chartered PLC axed 200 positions within its Indian operations, the Press Trust of India reported.

GERMANY, SWITZERLAND AND AUSTRIA

* Certain U.S. lawmakers have called on the Senate banking committee to launch a thorough investigation into Deutsche Bank AG's compliance history, according to The Wall Street Journal.

* The small savings institutions behind Germany's regional lenders, known as Landesbanken, are considering merging them to create what would be the second-largest lender in the country, Bloomberg News reported, citing Helmut Schleweis, president of the German Savings Banks Association.

* Wüstenrot Bausparkasse AG has acquired fellow home savings and loan bank Aachener Bausparkasse AG, subject to regulatory approval. Financial details of the agreement were not disclosed.

* The Swiss central bank kept its policy rates unchanged and said it would continue to intervene in the foreign exchange market to reduce upward pressure on the Swiss franc.

FRANCE AND BENELUX

* NN Group NV expects to take an €852 million goodwill impairment charge against its IFRS profit in the fourth quarter related to the merger of two life insurance units.

* Dexia SA signed a sale and purchase agreement with Landesbank Hessen-Thüringen Girozentrale, or Helaba, where the latter will acquire the Belgian bank's entire 100% stake in German subsidiary Dexia Kommunalbank Deutschland GmbH for a total consideration of €352 million.

* Natixis Investment Managers launched Flexstone Partners, a global private equity manager that brings together three of Natixis Investment Managers' existing private equity affiliates: Euro-PE, Caspian Pvt. Equity LLC and Eagle Asia Partners.

* Axa's integration of XL Group will be implemented in two years, according to Les Echos. Synergies of revenues will amount to €100 million a year for XL, while Axa has increased its forecast of annual synergies to €300 million a year from €200 million.

* A Belgian court has upheld a €250,000 fine first ordered in 2015 for insurer Ageas SA/NV for misconduct at financial institution Fortis in 2007, De Tijd reported. Ageas was created from Fortis after the dismantling of the financial institution due to sale of dodgy bonds to shareholders.

SPAIN AND PORTUGAL

* Banco de Sabadell SA agreed to sell wholly owned real estate management unit Solvia Servicios Inmobiliarios SL to Stockholm-based Intrum AB (publ) for an enterprise value of roughly €300 million. Under the agreement, Intrum will own 80% of the business, with Sabadell retaining a 20% stake.

* Mapfre SA appointed Fernando Pérez-Serrabona CEO for Brazil, replacing Wilson Toneto, and Leire Jiménez CEO of travel and risk insurance arm Mapfre Asistencia, replacing Alberto Berges, Expansión reported.

* Banco Santander SA unit Banco Santander Totta SA has named Pedro Castro e Almeida executive president for the next three years, replacing António Vieira Monteiro, Expansión wrote.

* Portugal's ASF insurance regulator has established a working group tasked to define a framework for supervision of mutual associations, including the entity that controls Caixa Económica Montepio Geral caixa económica bancária SA, Jornal de Negócios reported.

* A group of Novo Banco SA bondholders including Pimco, Kuwait's sovereign wealth fund and the IBM pension fund, has filed legal action against Portugal over the central bank's decision to transfer their bonds in the state-rescued bank to its failed predecessor Banco Espírito Santo SA, Jornal de Negócios and Jornal Económico reported.

ITALY AND GREECE

* UniCredit SpA CEO Jean Pierre Mustier dismissed the possibility of the lender merging with another bank until late 2021 at the earliest, Euromoney reported.

* BPER Banca SpA Deputy General Manager Claudio Battistella said the Italian lender is planning to dispose of some so-called unlikely-to-pay loans and is looking to establish a data room for potential buyers for the loans, Reuters reported.

* Cassa depositi e prestiti SpA is considering taking over the management of the real estate portfolio currently being managed by funds of state-owned Investimenti Immobiliari Italiani, MF reported.

* The three major shareholder groups of Unione di Banche Italiane SpA — Brescia's Sindacato Azionisti Ubi, Bergamo's Patto dei Mille and the Cassa di Risparmio di Cuneo Foundation — are mulling to create a single shareholder pact committing 21.5% of share capital ahead of the spring shareholder meeting to renew the board, MF wrote.

* Banca Popolare di Bari named Vincenzo de Bustis, former head of Deutsche Bank Italia and Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena SpA, to become its CEO and mandated Rothschild as financial adviser for its restructuring, MF reported.

NORDIC COUNTRIES

* Norway's central bank decided to keep its key policy rate unchanged at 0.75% and said it would most likely raise the rate in March 2019.

* Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken AB plans to invest up to 2.5 billion Swedish kronor back into the business over the next three years in a bid to position itself for longer-term growth.

* Swedbank AB (publ) named Kerstin Winlöf head of group savings, effective May 1, 2019. Winlöf currently serves as the COO of Nordea Bank Abp's wealth management and wholesale banking division.

EASTERN EUROPE

* U.S. investment bank Morgan Stanley plans to shut down its Moscow-based equities and foreign exchange trading offices due to the economic and political conditions in Russia, insiders told the Financial Times. The lender will relocate its Russian trading business to London, but will continue to run investment banking services in Moscow.

* Kazakhstan-based JSC ForteBank agreed to acquire 100% shares of local peer JSC Bank Kassa Nova, owned by Nova Leasing, Kapital.kz reported. Financial details of the deal were not disclosed.

* Polish lenders Getin Noble Bank SA and Idea Bank SA decided to look for a financial investor that could recapitalize the two lenders or a joint bank that could be formed as the result of a merger, which is also being considered by the financial institutions, Rzeczpospolita reported.

* Polish credit union SKOK Wołomin, which is undergoing bankruptcy proceedings, will be put up for sale for a symbolic price of 1 Polish zloty, Rzeczpospolita wrote. Only banks will be able to participate in the sale tender under the Polish law. The buyer will take over SKOK Wołomin's liabilities worth 119 million zlotys, but almost 200 million zlotys of cash accumulated in the SKOK as the result of loan repayments by its customers will be excluded from the tender.

* The Polish parliament plans to resume work on the presidential bill aimed to provide financial relief to foreign currency mortgage holders, news agency PAP reported. The subcommittee's head, Tadeusz Cymański, believes that the bill could enter into force before spring.

* Hungary-based Magyar Takarékszövetkezeti Bank Zrt. plans to close up to 300 branches and boost lending as part of its strategy to turn its fragmented business into a competitive universal bank, CEO Jozsef Vida told Reuters.

IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD

Asia-Pacific: India mulls injecting more capital to public banks; Philippines holds rates

Middle East & Africa: Saudi Arabia said to be secretly buying stocks; Mozambique cuts rate

Latin America: Brazil holds key rate; Matba-Rofex merger vote delayed

North America: Group plans de novo in New Hampshire; Morgan Stanley raises $1.4B for fund

Global Insurance: Wildfire claims bill passes $9B; Allstate cat loss; Japan Post eyes Aflac stake

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Stress tests 'showing their age' and need revamp: Scope Ratings: With the rise of emerging threats such as cybercrime, bank misconduct by bank employees and the disruptive impact of digitization, "stress tests are essentially fighting today's battles with yesterday's tools," according to the rating agency.

Credit Suisse CEO: We can raise dividends when regulators stop changing rules: Tidjane Thiam defended his bank's dividend policy, saying Credit Suisse needed a high buffer for "things outside of its control" such as regulatory changes. The bank's first share buyback plan since 2006 was met with lack of enthusiasm on the market.

Sheryl Obejera, Ed Meza, Meike Wijers, Gerard O'Dwyer, Beata Fojcik, Yael Schrage, Stephanie Salti, Sophie Davies and Helen Popper contributed to this report.

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This S&P Global Market Intelligence news article may contain information about credit ratings issued by S&P Global Ratings. Descriptions in this news article were not prepared by S&P Global Ratings.