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Indonesia holds benchmark rate; Lloyd's India branch gets regulatory nod

* Bank Indonesia kept its benchmark interest rate unchanged at 4.75% amid efforts to maintain macroeconomic and financial system stability. The deposit and lending rates were kept at 4% and 5.50%, respectively.

* Shinkin Central Bank formed a business tie-up with Mexican bank Banco Mercantil del Norte SA Institución de Banca Múltiple, The Nikkei reported.

* Qatar National Bank SAQ will raise a US$1 billion, three-year syndicated loan from Asian lenders, with Agricultural Bank of China Ltd. having a leading role, Reuters reported, citing "sources familiar with the situation."

* Insurance Regulatory Development Authority of India gave Lloyd's of London final approval to open a branch in India. The British insurer had been planning to set up a reinsurance branch in the country for early 2017.

GREATER CHINA

* The Shanghai office of the China Banking Regulatory Commission urged commercial banks not to raise the threshold for refinancing of small and micro-sized enterprises by asking for additional requirements, Shanghai Securities News reported. The office also asked lenders to ease their tolerance on nonperforming loans of businesses in the sector.

* China's first batch of five private banks saw net profits of between 1 million and 10 million yuan each in the first half of 2016, The total assets of the five private banks stood at 132.9 billion yuan as of the end of the third quarter of 2016, with total net profit of 572 million yuan in the nine months ended September 2016, the 21st Century Business Herald reported.

* China Construction Bank Corp. said the money for its debt-for-equity swap program came mainly from external funds through social fundraising, with the bank contributing a small portion of the total funds, Reuters reported. The bank agreed to exchange more than 160 billion yuan worth of loans into equities.

* Taiwan's Financial Regulatory Commission said it approved Chang Hwa Commercial Bank Ltd.'s application to set up a branch in Manila, the island's Central News Agency reported. Taiwanese banks have 33 outlets in the Philippines, which saw NT$500 million in total profit as of the end of September 2016.

JAPAN AND KOREA

* Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp. will launch a fund pooling system in Hong Kong after a free trade zone in Guangdong, China, eased regulations in 2016, The Nikkei reported. The system allows local companies to accommodate yuan-denominated funds between China and offshore markets.

* Takeshi Kunibe, chairman of the Japanese Bankers Association and the head of Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp., said the country's negative interest rate policy has not contributed positively to the economy, expressing concerns that a potentially prolonged negative interest rate environment could harm profits among lenders, The Nikkei reported.

* South Korea's Woori Bank will finalize its appointment of a new CEO and chairman by Jan. 24 as the list of candidates has been narrowed down to six nominees, the Chosun Ilbo reported.

* South Korea's Shinhan Financial Group Co. Ltd. nominated Cho Yong-byoung, president of its banking unit, to be promoted as its new chairman, The Korea Economic Daily reported.

ASEAN

* KASIKORNBANK PCL plans to open four more overseas branches in 2017, adding that it is keen on tapping into the Indonesian banking market, Krungthep Turakij reported, citing Pipit Aneaknithi, president of the bank.

* Bank Indonesia revised down its loan growth forecast for 2016 to 7.9% from 9%, Infobank reported, citing Juda Agung, executive director of the monetary and economics policy department.

* Separately, Finance Minister Sri Mulyani projected Indonesian economic growth in 2016 to have reached 5%, higher than the 4.79% seen in 2015, Infobank reported.

* Bank Islam Malaysia Bhd. managing director Zukri Samat said he is unlikely to continue with his current position in the bank once his tenure ends in June, Bernama reported. Samat has been with the bank since 2006. The lender had earlier denied reports that he was suspended by the bank.

SOUTH ASIA

* Axis Bank Ltd.'s net profit for the third quarter declined 73% year over year to 5.80 billion Indian rupees. The bank also saw an increase in gross and net nonperforming assets during the quarter.

* YES BANK Ltd.'s third-quarter net profit stood at 8.83 billion rupees, an increase of nearly 31% year over year, owing to higher interest income and a lower provision for nonperforming assets, Press Trust of India reported.

* Sundaram Finance Ltd. said in a stock exchange filing that it would not proceed with a proposed merger between Sundaram Insurance Broking Services Ltd. and LGF Services Ltd.

* Banks in Andhra Pradesh are requiring collateral security for loans of up to 1 million Indian rupees for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, a move that violates central bank regulations, The Hindu reported, citing an Andhra Pradesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry Federation meeting.

AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND

* QBE Insurance Group Ltd. has reported Australian company Skyllex to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission for allegedly running a Ponzi scheme targeting Eastern European investors, The Australian reported. The company is offering 50% returns in one month and assuring insurance cover from QBE on its website.

* Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. dropped its policy of offering bonuses based solely on sales numbers, The Australian Financial Review reported. An independent review earlier in the week had criticized bank practices for offering bonuses.

IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD

Middle East & Africa: National Commercial Bank posts Q4'16 results; Mozambique downgraded

Europe: Credit Suisse settles with US, warns on Q4'16; London set for financial exodus

Latin America: Zurich Brasil merges insurance segments; S&P affirms Colombia

North America: Signature Bank ups provision 33%; BB&T records penny hit to EPS from M&A

North America Insurance: Anthem extends Cigna deal's termination date; OneBeacon Insurance exploring sale

Sally Wang, Sarun Saelee, Cathy Hwang, Emi White and Aditya Suharmoko contributed to this report.

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