* The Association for Financial Markets in Europe has recommended improving the EU equivalence framework, which allows firms to do business in the region, and strengthening relationships with third countries for continued connectivity with international financial markets. It is arguing for preserving choice for investors and creating a transparent framework to provide certainty, among other things.
* Changes proposed under the 2020 review of Europe's Solvency II capital regime could slash some life insurers' solvency ratios by more than 100 percentage points, according to S&P Global Ratings.
UK AND IRELAND
* Many U.K. banks are not likely to meet a deadline to switch from using the London Interbank Offered Rate to replacement reference rates, insiders told Reuters. The banks are upgrading to new software which allows them to use an alternative benchmark.
* Customers of foreign exchange service Travelex, being held to ransom by a hacking gang called "Sodinokibi," fear for the safety of their personal information, after the gang published stolen data believed to be from a different attack, The Independent reported. This is thought to be the first time that the gang has released stolen data.
* NYSE-listed Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. on Jan. 1 increased its interest in U.K.-based Capsicum Reinsurance Brokers LLP from 33% to 100%.
* British online mortgage marketplace LendInvest Ltd. named Rod Lockhart CEO and member of the company's board of directors, effective Jan. 13.
GERMANY, SWITZERLAND AND AUSTRIA
* Some investors in Wirecard AG are trying to force their own investigation into alleged fraud and false accounting at the German fintech firm, the Financial Times reported. Wolfgang Schirp, the lawyer for the group of shareholders who together own above 2% holding, said his clients "just want to know what's going on."
* Swiss bank Credit Suisse Group AG has launched a staunch defense of its credit business related to fossil fuels, after heavy criticism across social media, Handelsblatt reported. Its share of the credit business related to fossil fuels is less than 3%, according to a spokeswoman. The bank said its fossil fuel financing activities rank comfortably in the mid-range. Credit Suisse's brand ambassador, tennis star Roger Federer, had faced criticism by climate activists regarding his association with the bank.
* German bank Aareal Bank AG announced a new medium-term strategy under which it will seek to grow its consulting and services division and expand into new markets. It has also reduced its nonperforming loans volume by roughly 40%, or €800 million, compared to the middle of the year, to €1.1 billion as of Dec. 31, 2019. Meanwhile Aareal is open to selling its software business Aareon AG in the medium term, insiders told Reuters.
* UBS Group AG plans to open an office in Miami, U.S., as a part of its efforts to expand in the country, Bloomberg News reported, citing Stefano Veri, who heads the Swiss bank's financial intermediaries business. The office will work with Latin American wealth managers.
FRANCE AND BENELUX
* Dutch insurer Aegon NV said it will gradually reduce its coal investments over the course of the decade. It will stop investing in companies that own more than 10 gigawatts of coal-fired electricity generation capacity and have plans to extend their capacity.
* Netherlands-based ABN AMRO Bank NV joined other Dutch banks in imposing negative interest rates on clients, will nearly all paying a tax of 0.01% on accounts, and those with savings accounts of more than €2.5 million paying 0.5%, L'Echo reported.
* French insurance companies have been criticized by trade body Amrae, for selling cyber insurance as part of business insurance packages for 10 years and now, when risks are higher and there is demand, excluding them, Les Echos reported.
SPAIN AND PORTUGAL
* Portugal's constitutional court has rejected an appeal by Ricardo Salgado, former president of failed Banco Espírito Santo SA, protesting a decision against him regarding his "damaging management" of BES before its bankruptcy in 2014. Salgado's defense is trying to fight a €3 million fine and the ban of the former president's functions for eight years, Economia Online reported.
* Spanish bank Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA placed €1 billion in 10-year Tier 2 subordinated debt in an issue that was more than 4x oversubscribed. The Spanish lender priced the issuance at 127 basis points over midswaps, 28 basis points lower than the initial interest rate, and said demand had reached €4.2 billion.
ITALY AND GREECE
* Italy is emerging as an obstacle to the EU banking union, with Rome holding off on approving the new European Stability Mechanism treaty on the grounds that it will force losses on Italians who put their savings in government bonds, the Financial Times reported. The country reportedly wants the treaty passed as part of a package deal, which would also include banking union and a common deposit insurance scheme.
* Italian insurer Generali is mulling the sale of a back book of life insurance assets worth up to €1 billion as it seeks to simplify its activities and to strengthen capital, MF reported, citing Bloomberg News.
* BPER Banca SpA could begin the sale of a nonperforming loan portfolio worth a nominal €1.0 billion to €1.2 billion guaranteed by the State GACS mechanism by mid-2020, MF reported. Meanwhile Citi has presented BPER with an outline of the European banking market in a move that could lead to the choice of new strategic options either in Italy or abroad, Il Messaggero wrote.
* Unione di Banche Italiane SpA will issue additional Tier 1 capital in euro-denominated bonds for institutional investors. The Italy-based bank will issue €400 million in bonds with a yield of around 6.5%.
* Danske Bank A/S offered voluntary redundancy to roughly 2,000 employees in Denmark as part of its plans to cut costs and restore profitability. The bank is bringing forward the voluntary redundancy option in Denmark primarily for staff in head office and support functions.
* Russian oligarch Boris Rotenberg, an associate of President Vladimir Putin who is currently under U.S. sanctions, has lost a lawsuit he filed against four Nordic banks in a Helsinki district court, over alleged discrimination, Bloomberg News reported. Rotenberg was ordered to pay more than €500,000 to cover the legal fees of the banks involved, which are Danske Bank, Nordea Bank Abp, Svenska Handelsbanken AB (publ) and OP Financial Group. The banks will not be forced to process payments for Rotenberg.
* A senior manager at Swedish financial regulator Finansinspektionen criticized Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken AB and Swedbank AB (publ) for insufficient work against money laundering as early as 2017, and considered fining them, SvD reported, citing a document. Finansinspektionen said the document is a memorandum which only describes the views of one person, not the regulator itself.
* The Danish financial regulator, Finanstilsynet, has ordered Faroese bank Betri Banki p/f to adhere to its own credit policies, increase its basic earnings and meet higher solvency requirements, after an inspection, Finanswatch reported.
* The shares of State Development Corp. VEB.RF's Ukrainian unit PSC Prominvestbank, equivalent to a 99.77% stake in the lender, have been put up for sale again in an auction to be held Feb. 11, attracting interest of seven potential bidders, Kommersant reported. Meanwhile, Prominvestbank plans a shareholders meeting for Feb. 6, during which the renouncement of its banking license will be discussed, the newspaper noted. Prominvestbank shares were seized as part of court proceedings to receive compensation from Russia for assets it seized during the annexation of Crimea in 2014.
* Poland-based Bank Pocztowy SA plans to set aside a 10.7 million zloty provision for the reimbursement of a portion of fees on consumer loans repaid ahead of schedule, news agency PAP wrote. The figure includes 5.6 million zlotys that will reduce the lender's net interest income and 5.1 million zlotys that will be recognized in its operating expenses.
IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD
Asia-Pacific: India mulls new regulatory body; AMP to consolidate operations
Middle East & Africa: Bank Audi mulls unit sale; Beltone eyes expansion; SCB Cameroun gets new boss
Latin America: Argentina sets debt renegotiation deadline; Itaú Chile sells life insurance unit
North America: Tennessee banks in deal; Goldman plans to double China staff in 5 years
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Ben Meggeson, Daniel Stephens, Meike Wijers, Esben Svendsen, Beata Fojcik, Yael Schrage, Brian McCulloch, 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.