* Hong Kong's Securities and Futures Commission barred UBS Group AG from sponsoring IPOs in the city for a year, as well as reprimanded and fined it and three other investments banks for failing in their duties as sponsors in three new listings as far back as 10 years ago.
* The China Securities Regulatory Commission's office in the eastern Zhejiang province told local brokerages not to engage in illegal gray-market margin financing. The regulator said brokerages must have a system in place to detect suspicious trades and other market activities to fend off risks related to shadow lending.
* BNP Paribas SA intends to expand into brokerage, futures trading and wealth management in China, as the country allows greater market access for foreign financial institutions, Bloomberg News reported, citing CG Lai, CEO of the French lender’s China unit. BNP now owns 15% of Bank of Nanjing Co. Ltd. and 49% of HFT Investment Management Co.
* Ping An Insurance (Group) Co. of China Ltd. is open to share buybacks in the Hong Kong stock market, CFO Jason Yao said, after the company unveiled its first-ever plan to repurchase its Shanghai-listed A-shares for up to 10 billion yuan.
JAPAN AND KOREA
* Daiwa Securities Group Inc. told Bloomberg News that its Japan-based clients would be able to continue trading U.S. and Europe-listed stocks, albeit only for a few days, during the market closure related to the emperor's succession starting late April. Markets in Japan will be closed from April 27 to May 6.
* The Bank of Japan's purchase of exchange-traded funds in the open market in March totaled ¥70.2 billion, the lowest since July 2016 when the central bank doubled its annual purchase target, Bloomberg News reported. Some analysts told Bloomberg it might signal the central bank's desire to taper buying when market conditions allow.
* South Korea's KB Kookmin Bank nominated An Gang-hyun and Seok Jong-hun as nonexecutive directors, The Chosun Ilbo reported citing the bank.
* The Stock Exchange of Thailand plans to launch digital asset trading operations in 2020, the Bangkok Post reported, citing the bourse's president, Pakorn Peetathawatchai. Core infrastructure, such as asset tokenization and settlement systems, is expected to be ready in the third quarter of 2019.
* Bangkok Bank PCL President Chartsiri Sophonpanich said loan-loss provision for 2019 will likely be around 22 billion baht, the same as in 2018, the Bangkok Post reported. He also expects nonperforming loan ratio to remain at 3.4% or below by end-2019, unchanged from the prior year.
* Thanachart Insurance PCL increased its paid-up capital to 4.93 billion baht from 740 million baht to support business expansion and future growth, the Daily News reported. The Thai insurer aims for a 6% year-over-year growth in gross premium income in 2019.
* PT Bank OCBC NISP Tbk expects its net interest margin to decline in 2019 amid competition from other financial institutions, CEO Parwati Sirjaudaja told Kontan. She said the bank plans to maintain the cost to income ratio at the same level as 2018.
* Bank of India CEO Dinabandhu Mohapatra said the lender expects to write back more than 18 billion rupees of provisions in fiscal 2019, thanks to the resolution of bad loans associated with Essar Steel, The Hindu Business Line reported. The bank also expects up to 5 billion rupees of proceeds from the sale of noncore assets.
* A committee led by India's Ministry of Finance will soon release a report that includes 48 to 50 recommendations on fintech development, Finance Secretary Subhash Chandra Garg said, The Hindu Business Line reported. Garg added that there is still scope for a lot of growth in fintech related to pension and credit delivery.
* Standard Chartered PLC told Bloomberg News two senior executives of its India operation have decided to leave the lender. They are Gopikrishnan MS, who heads foreign exchange, rates and credit for South Asia, and Shyamal Saxena, who leads the region's retail business.
AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND
* Australian Securities and Investments Commission Chairman James Shipton criticized some senior bankers who argued against tougher regulation recommended by the royal commission, The Sydney Morning Herald reported. He said the bankers' comments in the press had been "counterproductive."
* Swiss Finance Minister Ueli Maurer told parliament this week that the regulator was probing UBS Australia's A$1.2 billion loan to Papua New Guinea to see whether the bank complied with Swiss regulations, The Australian Financial Review reported. The loan, which was not approved by the Papua New Guinea parliament, became public in 2014.
* Commonwealth Bank of Australia may offload its wealth management businesses via trade sales after shelving a planned spinoff, The Australian Financial Review reported, citing unnamed banking sources. They said selling individual businesses could be cheaper and less risky for the lender amid the current tough regulatory environment.
IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD
Middle East & Africa: Israel's First International Bank posts higher profit; Mashreqbank going digital
Europe: 'Brextension' option; RBI shakes off Russia fears; profits rise at Pru, Generali
Latin America: Davivienda Q4'18 profit up 4%; BCRA rate hike to hurt banks, Moody's says
North America: Wells Fargo CEO gets 5% pay raise; Dems drop CRA mandate for CUs in housing bill
Global Insurance: Liberty Mutual sale; short-term health plans probed; US grounds 737 MAX
Janna Estares, Sally Wang, Sarun Saelee, Cathy Hwang, Emi White and Aditya Suharmoko contributed to this report.
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