* People's Bank of China Deputy Governor Pan Gongsheng said the central bank is likely to issue regulations on financial support for the housing leasing market in the first half, Shanghai Securities News reported. He also noted that authorities are studying a timetable for the launch of publicly held REITs, and hope to start a pilot program on it as soon as possible.
* The China Banking Regulatory Commission said in draft guidelines on data governance that banking institutions should include data management in their corporate governance framework and improve data quality, Caixin reported.
* China's newly elected central bank governor signaled he will maintain the push for financial liberalization set out by his predecessor Zhou Xiaochuan, Bloomberg News reported. Yi Gang was formally appointed March 19, and faces the challenge of maintaining financial stability, as well as pushing for the yuan's internationalization, the Securities Times separately reported.
* Taiwan's Financial Supervisory Commission is studying a program for the introduction of internet-only banks, to be finalized in April, the island's Liberty Times reported, citing Chairman Wellington Koo. Koo said the commission will open two licenses for internet-only banks, which will need to have a capital of NT$10 billion.
* Hong Kong-based Black Cell Technology Ltd. halted the sale of its initial coin offering to investors after the Securities and Futures Commission raised concerns over the company's involvement in potential unauthorized promotional activities and unlicensed regulated activities. Black Cell also agreed to unwind ICO transactions for Hong Kong investors by returning to them the relevant tokens.
JAPAN AND KOREA
* Mizuho Financial Group Inc. launched a partnership with Shizuoka Bank Ltd. on mortgage lending and asset management targeting retail customers and small and medium-sized enterprises, Tokyo's The Nikkei reported. Mizuho Financial plans to expand its business ties with regional banks as part of plans to trim costs.
* Nippon Life Insurance Co. will set up a representative office in Yangon, Myanmar, following the receipt of approval from the Southeast Asian country's ministry of planning and finance.
* Japan's Eighteenth Bank Ltd. plans to reduce its employee head count by 5% by March 2021, The Mainichi Shimbun reported.
* The South Korean government is planning to revise the Financial Transaction Reports Act to tighten regulation of cryptocurrency exchanges by the Financial Services Commission, The Dong-a Ilbo reported.
* Seoul-based NongHyup Financial Group Inc. launched a CEO nomination committee March 19 to find a new chief executive, The Chosun Ilbo reported. CEO Kim Yong-hwan's term ends April 28.
* The Thai Bankers' Association, 14 banks, seven big businesses and related organizations jointly formed the so-called Thailand Blockchain Community Initiative to develop and use blockchain technology, Manager Daily reported.
* Indonesian President Joko Widodo's administration intends to set up a mega Islamic bank, Bisnis Indonesia reported. The merger of existing state-owned Islamic banks is expected to be the most likely option for the plan.
* Swiss private bank Pictet & Cie Group SCA obtained a wholesale bank license from the Monetary Authority of Singapore to expand its operations in the city-state, The Business Times reported. Bank Pictet & Cie (Asia) Ltd. is expected to begin operations as a wholesale bank, effective April 2.
* Moody's said Metropolitan Bank & Trust Co.'s plan to raise up to 60 billion Philippine pesos through a stock rights offer is credit positive as it will boost the bank's capital buffers above Basel III capital rules, while supporting credit growth. The rights issue is expected to add about 390 basis points to the bank's common equity Tier 1 ratio of 11.8% as of December 2017, bringing the ratio above the regulatory minimum of 10%.
* The Securities and Exchange Board of India exempted the government from making an open offer for the shares of six public sector banks after increasing its stakes in the lenders, Press Trust of India reported. Under current regulations, a shareholder will need to make an open offer if its shares in a company go beyond a threshold. The government had been increasing its stakes in public banks as part of a plan to infuse additional capital into the lenders.
* State Bank of India and India Mortgage Guarantee Corp. signed a memorandum of understanding that would enable the lender to offer a mortgage guarantee scheme for prospective nonsalaried and self-employed home loan customers, Press Trust of India reported.
* India's Central Bureau of Investigation filed charges against former Canara Bank Chairman and Managing Director R.K. Dubey for alleged cheating and forgery related to a loan default worth more than 680 million rupees, Press Trust of India reported. Dubey was said to have instructed subordinate officers to favor loans to a company whose directors he knew. The loans were sanctioned in 2013 and turned sour in 2014.
AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND
* Commonwealth Bank of Australia understated the number of customers to whom it sold junk credit card insurance policies to regulators, an inquiry into the country's banking sector has found, The Sydney Morning Herald reported. The bank reported to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission in May 2015 that it sold the worthless insurance to 28,700 customers, but the inquiry heard that more than a quarter of the 245,000 income protection policies held by the bank's credit customers in 2015 were worthless.
* Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. is considering an IPO of ordinary shares in UDC Finance Ltd. after a deal to sell the latter fell through. The offering is part of a number of strategic options for the New Zealand-based asset finance company's future.
* A former National Australia Bank Ltd. banker allegedly defrauded the bank of more than A$800,000 by having customers unknowingly sign documents that allowed his friend to receive commissions from the bank under its so-called "introducer" program, The Sydney Morning Herald reported. The two allegedly exploited the program, which pay rewards for referring loan clients, by using Nicola D'Agostino as a reference in clients' loan documents. The clients were unaware that they had been referred to the bank by D'Agostino.
IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD
Middle East & Africa: Dexia sells Israeli unit stake; Moody's cuts Oman; Mauritian president resigns
Europe: Deutsche Bank posts bigger FY'17 loss; UK banks to face tougher stress tests
Latin America: DBRS lowers Brazil; Chile appoints new BancoEstado president
North America: CFPB COO to leave; Point72 president resigns amid discrimination lawsuit
North America Insurance: Insurer ordered into liquidation; Blue plans post 25% rise in premiums in 2017Insurer ordered into liquidation; Blue plans post 25% rise in premiums in 2017
Janna Estares, Sally Wang, Jonathan Cheah, Jaekwon Lim and Santibhap Ussavasodhi contributed to this report.
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