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UK banks look away from Asia; Heta creditors brace for losses; a BPI deal in the nick of time


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UK banks look away from Asia; Heta creditors brace for losses; a BPI deal in the nick of time

German concerns over loose monetary policy:German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble called on U.S. and Europeangovernments to encourage the U.S. Federal Reserve, the ECB and the Bank ofEngland to carefully but slowly exit monetary policies that lead to excessiveliquidity, which he said was becoming "more a cause than a solution to theproblem," The Wall Street Journalreports. Schäuble said he would meet with ECB President Mario Draghi in thenext few days to discuss the central bank's latest stimulus measures.

* Some IMF officials yesterday voiced support for the introduction of negative nominal interest rates bycentral banks, saying that such rates help deliver additional monetary stimulusand easier financial conditions, which support demand and price stability. Theofficials noted that negative rates have limits and emphasized the need forstructural reforms and supportive fiscal policies. City A.M. and Reuters have reports.

* Groupe BPCE Management Board Chairman François Pérolsaid the outlook for European banks is in some ways more uncertain that that in2009, amid digitization, negative interest rates and regulatory changes,Bloomberg News reports. Pérol said negative rates are weighing on the financial sector'sprofitability and warned that the negative rate environment could go on for afew years.

* Interest rates in the eurozone can remainlow for some time, but not forever, Bank of Italy Governor Ignazio Visco tells Il Sole 24 Ore.

* The eurozone lacks political coordination and needs aEuropean finance minister, Bank of France Governor François Villeroy de Galhau tells La Repubblica.

* European Commission Vice PresidentJyrki Katainen said eurozone banks should not have too large exposure to their countries'debt, while acknowledging that introducing limits to exposures will take a longtime, Reuters reports.

* Amid the fallout from the PanamaPapers scandal, the European Commission is proposing that large multinationalsbe required to report profits and taxes in every EU country in which theyoperate, accordingto The Wall Street Journal. Separately,German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble yesterday suggested establishing aglobal network of registers listing the actual owners of companies in a bid tofight tax havens, Reuters writes.

* The Danish FSA called on theEuropean Banking Authority to guide national regulators on how to respond tothe Panama Papers issue, Bloomberg News reports.


StanChart,RBS in Asia cleanup: is intalks with potential buyers of approximately $1.4 billion in bad loans toIndian firms and has also launched the sale of about $3 billion in assets inAsia as the bank attempts to clean its balance sheet, insiders tell Bloomberg News. StanChart is also looking at selling part of its loanportfolio in the Middle East and Africa.

* Meanwhile, the Financial Times reports that Royal Bank ofScotland Group Plc has decided to close its remaining Indianbanking operations and give up on finding a buyer for the business due toconcerns that an acquisition process could take too long and cost more. Theclosure will cut RBS' Asian operations network to Singapore, Tokyo and HongKong.

* AEGON NV said today that it is selling two-thirds of its U.K. annuity portfolio toRothesay Life Plc aspart of its aim to free up capital from noncore businesses. AEGON said it isexploring options to divest the remainder of the portfolio.

* NBNK Investments Plc said this morning that further negotiations with potential acquisitiontargets have not produced an acquisition proposition that can be recommendedfor shareholder approval. The directors resolved to return unused funds toshareholders and/or to wind up the company after failure to achieve a positiveresult from the talks.

* U.K. Prime Minister David Cameronyesterday published his tax records since 2009 following criticism over hispersonal wealth and acknowledging holding a stake in an offshore fund that wasnamed in the Panama Papers, Bloomberg News reports. Cameron will say today that his government will this year introducenew legislation that would make firms criminally liable for failing to stoptheir employees from aiding tax evasion, accordingto Reuters.

* Research by think tank New CityAgenda found that U.K. banks and building societies have incurred nearly £53billion in fines and other penalties from the 10 biggest misconduct chargessince 2000, the Financial Times reports. Payment protection insurance mis-selling hit banks the most, costingthem £37.3 billion.

* The U.K. Treasury namedSam Woods CEO of the Bank of England's Prudential Regulation Authority,effective July 1.

* Helios Underwriting Plc named Arthur Manners financedirector, with immediateeffect. Manners' role at the company will be part-time.

* Barclays Plc spokespeople denied knowledge of areportedly upcoming survey that will ask employees who their best friend is atthe bank, City A.M. writes. The denial followed a report by The Sunday Times thatBarclays is expected to distribute a friendship survey to staff in a bid tohelp improve culture.

* Beazley Plc and MunichRe are joining forces to provide bespoke cyber insurance policiesamid a growing demand for cyber insurance in the wake of high-profile attackson companies, the Financial Times reports.


Austriaforces losses on Heta creditors: The Austrian Financial MarketAuthority yesterday cut the nominal value of Heta Asset Resolution AG's senior bonds by more than 50% as part of its resolutionplan for the bank. The FMA's measures include 100% bail-in of all subordinated liabilities and thecancellation of all interest payments as of March last year.

* Swiss financial watchdog FINMA launched a probe intobanks in the wake of the Panama Papers tax-dodging scandal, Reuters reports, citing NZZ am Sonntag. FINMAis calling for common standards around the globe in an effort to prevent taxevasion.

* Deutsche BankAG agreed to pay a €10 million fine in a tax-evasion case involvingits Swiss subsidiary, Reuters reports. The bank is under investigation on a similar charge involving itsLuxembourg subsidiary, Reuters added, citing daily Süddeutsche Zeitung.

* Deutsche Bank is cutting ties withRCB Bank Ltd., andwill continue a correspondent banking relationship with the Cypriot lenderduring a transition period, Bloomberg News reports. RCB Bank denied that Deutsche Bank's decision had any connection withthe Panama Papers scandal, following Bloomberg's report that the German lenderexpedited the process due to the leak, Reuters writes.

* DekaBank DeutscheGirozentrale has thrown in the towel in its longtime battle withtax authorities over the reimbursement of €53 million in capital gains tax that stemmed fromdubious stock transactions, Handelsblattreports. Taxauthorities had declined to reimburse the money, claiming it stemmed from thebank's involvement in illicit "cum-ex trades," which exploited loopholes in lawsregarding tax refunds on dividends. The Fiscal Court of Hesse rejected thebank's request for the reimbursement in February. DekaBank will not appeal the decision.

* CommerzbankAG is looking to restructure its IT operations to reduce costs, Handelsblatt reports. The bank's IT personnel costs are higher than the European average. It islooking to hand over large portions of its internal IT services to subsidiariesand is also considering completely outsourcing additional IT support. IT lastyear accounted for about a fifth of the bank's €7 billion in administrativecosts.

* Credit Suisse Group AGChairman Urs Rohner said in an interview with Swiss magazine Bilanz that the bank's major shareholders, including Qatar Holding and SaudiArabia's Olayan Group, support the current management, Handelsblatt reports. Rohner expressed support for CEO Tidjane Thiam,describing him as "the ideal person to lead the bank into the future under the present conditions."

* Former Credit Suisse CEO BradyDougan is working on plans to launch a boutique financial advisory andinvestment firm, insiders tell The Wall Street Journal. The moves are still at an early stage.


SocGenParis HQ raided over Panama Papers: 's Parisheadquarters were searchedlast week by French tax police investigating the Panama Papers leak, Reutersreports, noting that Le Journal duDimanche said the police action was intended to identify holders ofoffshore shell companies.

* SGAM Covéapurchased 5.64% additional shares in SCORSE, taking its stake in the reinsurer to 7.67%, Les Echos writes.These shares were sold by SompoJapan Nipponkoa Holdings Inc.

* KBC Group NV'sBelgian subsidiary KBC Bank NVis allocating €250 million over six years to transform into a multichannelbank, accordingto L'Echo. Overall, KBC is dedicating€500 million across the group for that purpose.

* Ethias SAis targeting €200 million net profit by 2018, L'Echo writes.

* The number of employees in the French banking sectorremained flat in 2015 compared to the year before, after several years ofdecline, Les Echos says.


CaixaBank,dos Santos agree BPI deal: Banco BPI SA said yesterday that two of its largest shareholders, and Isabel dos Santos'Santoro Finance Prestação de Serviços SA have finalized "negotiationsinvolving them to find a solution to the breach of the large exposures limit"of the Portuguese lender in Angola. Banco BPI said the ECB and the Bank ofPortugal were already informed of the solution, which will be presented to thecompetent governing bodies in the coming days. Expansiónreports.

* Banco BilbaoVizcaya Argentaria SA this year plans to increase by 25% itsoverall debt issuance to €10 billion.

* Today, BancoPopular Español SA will put to the vote at its shareholder meeting,the possibility for the board to issue up to €2.5 billion in five-year fixedreturn instruments, Europa Press reports.

* Italy could announce today the creation ofa majority private-owned fund with the help of an asset management company,with Cassa depositi e prestitiSpA playing a role. The fund will buy nonperforming loans frombanks and subscribe to their capital increases, Milano Finanza writes, adding that its initial endowment could be of €5billion to €7 billion. Bloomberg News cites UniCreditSpA CEO Federico Ghizzoni as saying that his bank would "clearly"be an investor in the fund. Reuters also covers.

* UniCredit is aware of a proposal by Fortress InvestmentGroup to buy into a €1.8 billion share issue the bank is guaranteeing forBanca Popolare di Vicenza SpA,but has no say over it, Reuters writes, noting that according to Italian news agency ANSAthe offer is no longer on the table.

* UnipolSaiAssicurazioni SpA is seeking to take a stake of more than 2%, butless than 5%, in Banca Popolaredell'Emilia Romagna SC in a bid to strengthen their alliance. Theinvestment could be up to €100 million, IlSole 24 Ore writes.

* Two lists were presented for the renewal of the board ofVeneto Banca SCpA, with Pierluigi Bolla confirmed at the head of one and Stefano Ambrosiniat the head of the list presented by small and large shareholders, Il Messaggero writes.

* AzimutHolding SpA is seeking a CEO with an international profile and evena foreigner is welcome as long as the person knows "our language verywell," Chairman and CEO Piero Giuliani, who is about to give up his roleas CEO to comply with demands from the Bank of Italy, tells Affari & Finanza.

* The Bank of Italy is carrying out anonsite inspection at the Italian offices of Bank of China, which is accused ofaiding illicit money flows from Italy to China, Reuters writes.

* National Bank of Greece SA CEO Leonidas Fragkiadakissaid the bank has set four targets for the future — boost productivity, improveportfolio quality, grow income and a digital upgrade, Imerisia notes.


SwedishFSA to probe banks in Panama Papers leak: Sweden's FSA intends to take a closer look at thecountry's leading banks in the wake of the Panama Papers affair. The FSA willnow examine documents to examine a connection, if any, to possible taxavoidance schemes or services run by SvenskaHandelsbanken AB, SkandinaviskaEnskilda Banken AB or SwedbankAB, Dagens Nyheter says,noting that the three banks deny that they are engaged in providingunauthorized tax avoidance or evasion services to clients. Nordea Bank AB has already been dragged into thecontroversy.

* informed the Norwegiangovernment in December 2014 that the bank does not provide tax evasion oravoidance services through its Luxembourg subsidiary. The bank insisted in itscommunication to the Industry and Fisheries Ministry that the services providedby DNB Luxembourg were restricted to financial advice, legal and legitimate taxplanning services for Norwegian clients who live abroad, Dagens Naeringsliv writes.The Norwegian state holds a 34% equity stake in DNB.

* reversed itsdecision to not issue new mortgage loans to borrowers domiciled in Sweden butwho commute to work in Norway or Denmark. The Swedish state mortgage bank's "cross-border"rule was introduced in the face of much criticism in February, Sydsvenskan reports."We made a bad decision, and now we have made a better one," SBABspokesperson Karin Hellgren said.


Ukraineprime minister resigns: Ukrainian Prime Minister ArsenyYatseniuk decided to step down from the post, with his resignation to besubmitted to the parliament April 12, Reuters reports.Yatseniuk said the party of President Petro Poroshenko Volodymyr Groysman to fill hispost.

* The Hungarian government and the are expected to complete the acquisition of stakes in 's Hungarian unitby the end of the second quarter, after the local parliament passes furtherreductions in Hungary's bank tax, Reuters reports.

* The Russian Ministry of Finance and the central bank areworking on legislative amendments that will allow Russian residents to depositretirement savings not only in nonstate pension funds but also in specialdeposits in banks, Kommersant writes.

* Svyaznoy Group sent letters to potentialinvestors for an offer to purchase its insurance unit Svyaznoy Strakhovanie,Vedomosti reports.Following the sale, the Russian handset retailer will continue its cooperationwith other insurers, selling their products in stores and online.

* PAO Sberbankof Russia is setting up its second venture capital fund worth $100million to invest in financial and technological projects and artificialintelligence research, Vedomosti says.Sberbank opened its first such fund in 2012.

* The Russian Federal State PropertyManagement Agency's head, Olga Dergunova, could return to as management boarddeputy chairwoman, Vedomosti reports.Dergunova, who worked at VTB until 2012, is leaving her current post because ofa conflict with Economic Development Minister Alexei Ulyukayev overprivatization issues.

* Former VTB Bank executive Vyacheslav Dusaleev will becomethe head of retail at PAO BANKURALSIB, Kommersant reports. The lender confirmed thatDusaleev will join as an advisor, but the newspaper noted that he will beappointed management board deputy chairman after approval by the Russiancentral bank.

* JSC RussianAgricultural Bank was the most unprofitable lender in Russia in2015, posting an IFRS net loss of 94.2 billion rubles, Vedomosti reports.

* The Office of Polish President Andrzej Duda is working ona new version of a proposal on converting foreign currency-denominatedmortgages, Puls Biznesu says.One of the discussed options would allow banks to spread the costs of theconversion, estimated at 70 billion zlotys, over 20 or 30 years.


* A federal district court judge said that while made many argumentsagainst its designation as a systemically important financial institution, itwas a federal body's "unacknowledged departure from its guidance andexpress refusal toconsider cost" that triggered her decision to overturn the company's designation.Judge Rosemary Collyer of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbiaruled in a decision issued March 30 that the Financial Stability OversightCouncil's designation of MetLife was arbitrary and capricious. The text of herdecision was unsealed April 7 with no redactions.

* Many institutions predict that consumer asset-backedsecuritization, collateralized loan obligation products and residentialmortgage-backed security products will develop rapidly in China, Caixin reports.

* Japan's Financial Services Agency is consideringregulating high frequency trading to prevent volatility in the stock market, The Asahi Shimbun reports.


HSBC execsface resignation calls, but Panama Papers effect remains uncertain:The Panama Papers revelations are a fresh black eye for HSBC, but an analystand a barrister said it is too early to know whether executives should heedresignation calls.

Internet, lowrates spur Spanish banks to trim sprawling branch networks: Mobiletechnology could enable BBVA to slash its Spanish branches by three-quarters,and Santander is already set to close 425 offices in 2016. Potential costsavings at a time of low interest rates are making Spanish banks even keener ondownsizing one of Europe's most extensive physical networks.

Associationboard member questions Nykredit capital needs, IPO plan: Questionsare swirling around the real purpose of Nykredit's controversial fee increaseand stock market listing.

Middle East& Africa Monitor: SSA news through April 7

Xana Kakoty, Ed Meza,Stephanie Salti, Chantal Groothengel, Yael Schrage, Praxilla Trabattoni,Thanasis Kakalis, Gerard O'Dwyer, Beata Fojcik and Ali Kayalar contributed tothis report.

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