* The growth of alternative reinsurance capital abated in 2018 for the first time since the global financial crisis, according to early analysis by reinsurance broker JLT Re.
UK AND IRELAND
* Arch Capital Group Ltd. unit Arch Insurance Co. (Europe) Ltd. has completed the acquisition of the U.K. commercial lines business owned by insurance broker The Ardonagh Group Ltd. and part of its Geo Underwriting operating segment.
* Ireland's central bank is set to issue an increasing number of approvals for financial firms looking to move to Dublin from London ahead of Brexit, the Financial Times reported, citing Martin Shanahan, head of Irish investment agency IDA Ireland.
* The U.K. Financial Conduct Authority froze the assets of commercial lender London Capital & Finance PLC and banned it from any regulated activity over concerns about the company's marketing of fixed-rate individual savings accounts and its issuance of so-called mini-bonds to investors.
* U.K. bank Coutts & Co. is being sued by a former banker, Harry Keogh, who left the company following allegations of inappropriate behavior toward female coworkers, Financial News reported. He is claiming unfair dismissal.
GERMANY, SWITZERLAND AND AUSTRIA
* A mooted tie-up between Landesbank Hessen-Thüringen Girozentrale, or Helaba, and Norddeutsche Landesbank Girozentrale, or NordLB, will not materialize, according to Börsen-Zeitung. The paper wrote that Helaba's management board informed NordLB's management in writing that the merger talks had ended without an agreement.
* Former Deutsche Börse AG CEO Carsten Kengeter has paid a fine of nearly €5 million to settle insider trading allegations against him, The Times of London reported.
* Potsdam, Germany-based Mittelbrandenburgische Sparkasse expects a 5.5% drop in operating income for 2018 as per preliminary figures, owing to a combination to low interest rates, regulatory efforts and expenses for digitization. The bank's CEO also warned results will drop further in the coming years.
* Effective Jan. 1, Austria reduced its five different deposit protection systems to two, Einlagensicherung Austria GesmbH and Sparkassen Haftungs GmbH, both under the supervision of the country's financial market supervisory authority FMA, Die Presse wrote.
* Universal-Investment-Gesellschaft mbH acquired a Frankfurt-based IT service provider for financial companies, Labs GmbH, from Lupus alpha Asset Management AG.
* The CEO of Austria's Oberbank AG, Franz Gasselsberger, told Kurier in an interview that the bank will introduce a mandatory female staff quota of 50% in 33 business units and a 40% quota for executive positions. He added that the bank will increase the number of branches in Germany to 16 from 7 in 2019 and also continue with its expansion in Hungary.
FRANCE AND BENELUX
* Chubb Ltd.'s Chubb European Group PLC has completed its redomicilation to France from the U.K. ahead of Britain's planned departure from the EU, with the move also applying to Ace Europe Life SE.
* Dutch money transporter Securcash BV has filed for bankruptcy at a court in Rotterdam amid dwindling demand for cash transactions, Het Financieele Dagblad reported.
SPAIN AND PORTUGAL
* Mosqueira do Amaral, former administrator of Banco Espírito Santo SA, is being pointed to as one of the people responsible for the collapse of the institution by a commission of the Portuguese Ministry of Justice, Jornal de Negócios reported.
* About 50% of the clients of Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA now access the bank's services through digital means, wrote Europa Press. At the end of November 2018, the group had 26.4 million digital customers interacting with the bank through mobile devices, computers and tablets, compared to 22.2 million a year earlier.
ITALY AND GREECE
* The ECB appointed temporary administrators for Banca Carige SpA in a bid to stabilize the struggling Italian lender following the resignation of most of its board members. The regulator also appointed a three-member surveillance committee to take charge of the bank and replace its board. Italian stock market regulator Consob yesterday suspended trading of shares in Carige ahead of the ECB's decision on the lender's governance, Reuters noted.
* Italian insurer Generali completed the sale of its entire stake in unit Generali Belgium SA to Bermuda-based Athora Holding Ltd. Generali sold the stake for an initial consideration of €540 million, subject to adjustments on the deal's close.
* Italian lender Banca IFIS SpA, through Ifis NPL, acquired a portfolio of nonperforming loans with a gross book value of €1.16 billion from Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena SpA. Meanwhile Reuters reported that Monte dei Paschi completed the sale of three portfolios of NPLs totaling €3.5 billion.
* The Danish Financial Supervisory Authority classified Spar Nord Bank A/S as a systemically important financial institution in Denmark and assigned the lender a 1% buffer requirement that must be met through common equity Tier 1 capital by the end of 2020. Spar Nord said it anticipated the designation and has raised its strategic target for its CET1 ratio to 13.5% from 13% and its target for the own funds ratio to 17.5% from 16.5%.
* The CEO of Denmark-based Arbejdernes Landsbank A/S is forecasting a new wave of bank consolidation in Denmark as financial institutions respond to stricter capital rules, Børsen reported. The executive believes that one in six Danish banks are likely to disappear in the coming years.
* HSBC Bank AŞ CEO Selim Kervanci, who is being probed by the Turkish prosecutor's office over a video he retweeted during anti-government protests in 2013, denied that he insulted President Recep Tayyip Erdogan with the move, saying he intended to watch the video later, Bloomberg News reported.
* The Ukrainian central bank imposed a 94.7 million Ukrainian hryvnia fine on PAO Sberbank of Russia unit Sberbank JSC for repeated involvement in transactions that could be associated with money laundering. The regulator also imposed smaller fines on several other local lenders, including JSC Raiffeisen Bank Aval, for the violation of financial monitoring legislation.
* The latest stress tests carried out by the Ukrainian central bank showed that 13 out of the country's 24 biggest banks needed additional capital of 42.1 billion Ukrainian hryvnia, although the sum dropped to 19.7 billion hryvnia at the end of 2018, after the regulator revoked the license of JSC VTB BANK and four lenders took measures to cover their capital gap in the adverse scenario, Delo.ua reported. In addition, three other banks are already in the process of implementing their restructuring plans, while the remaining lenders have time until the end of 2019 to do so.
* The Hungarian National Bank is looking to introduce measures in the second half of 2019 aimed at boosting competition in the home insurance market that could curb the cost of policies for consumers, Reuters reported, citing the central bank's managing director.
* The Polish unit of BNP Paribas Cardif developed a new growth strategy to boost its financial results, Puls Biznesu wrote, adding that the company plans to invest into digital business and is looking for new partners.
* The Polish Financial Supervision Authority allowed ING Bank Śląski SA's mortgage unit ING Bank Hipoteczny to commence operations, news agency PAP reported. ING Bank earlier said the unit could start issuing mortgage bonds in 2019.
IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD
Asia-Pacific: Syndicate Bank, SBI Life ink bancassurance deal; IAG boosts catastrophe cover
Middle East & Africa: Saudi's NCB, Riyad Bank seek merger advisers; Britam expects lower FY'18 result
Latin America: Chairmen resign from BTG, Banco do Brasil; Banco Itapúa in merger talks
NOW FEATURED ON S&P GLOBAL MARKET INTELLIGENCE
As Brexit looms, London's fintechs seek fixes for skills shortages, visa woes: The U.K.'s departure from the EU could intensify existing skills shortages and cause visa headaches for fintechs looking to recruit from Europe, but companies are finding fixes to ensure that it will be business as usual after Brexit.
Alternative reinsurance capital takes hit at Jan. 1 renewals: Growth in alternative capital abated in 2018 for the first time since the global financial crisis, JLT Re found, as investors reacted to "disappointing" returns and losses.
Ben Meggeson, Arno Maierbrugger, Danielle Rossingh, Gerard O'Dwyer, Beata Fojcik, Heather O'Brian, Brian McCulloch, Sophie Davies and Mariana Aldano contributed to this report.
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