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Mitsubishi UFJ Financial expands Saudi Arabia ops; Bank of Baroda profit slips

* Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc. plans to start expanding its operations in Saudi Arabia by adding 20 more people to its local operations as it looks to benefit from a privatization spree in the country, Bloomberg News reported, citing Elyas Algaseer, the lender's co-head for the Middle East and North Africa. The group expects the number of new hires to reach 60 in three to five years, Algaseer noted.

* Japanese fintech company Money Forward Inc. may launch its IPO on the Tokyo Stock Exchange's Mothers market by September, The Nikkei reported. The startup expects a market capitalization of ¥10 billion to ¥20 billion, which it would use to expand its operations and enhance services at its sales offices.

* National Bank of Pakistan plans to open at least one branch in Beijing and Shanghai to boost its business in China and facilitate construction projects under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor initiative, the News International reported, citing a statement from the bank.

* 1Malaysia Development Bhd. said it made a US$350 million payment to Abu Dhabi's International Petroleum Investment Co. The payment was made to settle part of its US$600 million debt to the investment company, The Wall Street Journal reported.

GREATER CHINA

* The People's Bank of China said its macroprudential appraisal review system would include one-year term interbank certificates of deposit issued by banks with assets of more than 500 billion yuan, starting in the first quarter of 2018, Reuters reported.

* China's central bank also said that while domestic financial institutions' excess deposit reserve rate dropped to 1.5% from 3.5% about a decade ago, the decline does not signal tightened liquidity or any change in its monetary policies, Reuters reported.

* Nan Hai Corp. Ltd invested NT$500 million with the acquisition of 2.4% of Sunny Bank Ltd.'s shares as the Hong Kong company expects positive investment returns in the bank, the Liberty Times reported.

JAPAN AND KOREA

* Credit Saison Co. Ltd. will update the employment status of its 2,200 employees to regular from part-time as part of the company's efforts to comply with the Japanese government's policy of "equal pay for equal work," The Nikkei reported.

* Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank Ltd. will market a new type of foreign currency-denominated annuities that allow multiple premium payments, The Nikkei reported. The move comes as Japanese yen-denominated annuities are losing popularity in the current interest rate environment, the publication noted.

* South Korea's Kakao Bank plans to boost capital through an issuance of 500 billion won worth of shares to its nine existing shareholders, The Chosun Ilbo reported. There will be no change in stake ownership.

* The South Korean government plans to license another internet bank, following the launch of K Bank and Kakao Bank, Yonhap News Agency reported. Shinhan Bank Co. Ltd. and KEB Hana Bank are looking to take part in a new consortium that is planning to establish an internet bank.

* Korea Development Bank said it sold all of its 5.9% stake in Asiana Airlines Inc. for 58.2 billion won as part of its ongoing portfolio divestiture program, Yonhap News reported.

ASEAN

* The Bank of Thailand dismissed a rumor that Thai financial institutions are not allowed to conduct transactions with Iranians, Post Today reported. The central bank clarified that the country's financial institutions are only barred from conducting transactions with financial companies that are on the United Nations' sanctions list.

* Maryoso Sumaryono, president director of PT Asuransi Jiwa Taspen, said the insurer would set up 10 branches in Indonesia by the end of 2017, Bisnis Indonesia reported.

* Fitch Ratings affirmed the long-term issuer default ratings of Malayan Banking Bhd., Hong Leong Bank Bhd. and Export-Import Bank of Malaysia Bhd. at A-, with stable outlooks.

SOUTH ASIA

* Bank of Baroda posted a 52% decline in net profit for the first quarter to 2.03 billion Indian rupees, down from 4.24 billion rupees in the year-ago period. Net interest income rose 1% year over year to 34.05 billion rupees from 33.72 billion rupees.

* ICICI Bank Ltd. will raise 100 billion Indian rupees through an issuance of Tier 1 bonds, Business Standard reported. Proceeds from the issuance will be used to grow the bank's capital base and business operations.

* Essel Finance Management LLP unit Essel Finance Wealthzone received approval from the Securities and Exchange Board of India to wholly acquire the stake of Peerless General Finance and Investment Co. Ltd. in Peerless Funds Management Co. Ltd and Peerless Trust Management Co. Ltd., The Hindu Business Line reported.

AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND

* Commonwealth Bank of Australia CEO Ian Narev may be called by a parliamentary committee soon in connection with recent anti-money laundering law violations, The Australian reported. The Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre, the regulator that sued the bank over the violations, will first brief the committee.

* The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority forwarded proposals to superannuation funds regarding better business planning as well as the possibility of requiring them to show "value for money" in sponsorship arrangements, among other matters. The suggestions will become a part of the license conditions for the superannuation funds.

* New Zealand's central bank is requesting information from banks about their smart ATMs and the level of allowed cash deposits as it looks to mitigate possible money laundering and terrorism financing risks, The New Zealand Herald reported. The Reserve Bank of New Zealand believes that smart ATMs are at greater risk of being exploited for such purposes.

Sally Wang, Jonathan Cheah, Jaekwon Lim and Santibhap Ussavasodhi contributed to this report.

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