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Chinese bank FY'17 profit up; Japan's ORIX exits Sri Lanka; Thailand holds rate

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Chinese bank FY'17 profit up; Japan's ORIX exits Sri Lanka; Thailand holds rate

Editor's note: This feature will not be published March 30, 2018. The next feature will be published April 3, 2018.

GREATER CHINA

* China Everbright Bank Co. Ltd.'s net profit attributable to its equity shareholders for the year ended Dec. 31, 2017, increased to 31.55 billion yuan from 30.33 billion yuan a year ago. The lender's EPS fell to 59 fen from 63 fen.

* Chinese President Xi Jinping and other key officials approved new rules on the asset management sector, as well as on investment into financial institutions by the nonfinancial sector, Reuters reported, citing a Chinese state radio report. The officials said new regulations should provide unified standards for regulatory oversight and offer equal market access and supervision, the report noted. However, further details were not provided, including what the new rules will call for.

* China's top government officials are said to have decided to establish a new court in Shanghai that will deal with financial cases, Reuters reported, citing a state radio report. Details of the plan were not disclosed, the newswire said.

* Morocco-based BMCE Bank of Africa is expected to open a branch in Shanghai in September, after setting up a representative bureau in the country in the early 2000s, Xinhua News Agency reported, citing business newspaper L'Economiste. This follows a memorandum of understanding signed by the lender with China Development Bank on March 23 to improve bilateral trade and investment.

JAPAN AND KOREA

* Japan-based Nomura Holdings Inc. and internet company LINE Corp. entered into a memorandum of understanding to consider collaboration on providing securities services. The two companies are also looking to set up a 49/51 joint venture, tentatively named LINE Securities Corp., by May, subject to the execution of a final joint venture agreement, as well as regulatory and board approvals.

* Japan-based Shinsei Bank Ltd. will lift a ban on employees moonlighting or working on a side business, making it the first major lender in the country to do so, Tokyo's The Nikkei reported.

* Two more Japanese cryptocurrency exchange operators withdrew from the market, bringing the number of companies moving out of the cryptocurrency exchange business to five since the country's Financial Services Agency began regulating the industry, The Nikkei reported.

* Korea Development Bank is looking to infuse an additional 200 billion won of capital into KDB Life Insurance Co. Ltd. and sell a stake in the unit on the condition that the buyer participates in the capital increase, BusinessKorea reported, citing sources from the local investment banking industry. This comes a week after the development lender reportedly stopped seeking buyers as the deal talks have disrupted the unit's operations and affected its corporate value.

* Taiwan-based Fubon Life Insurance Co. Ltd. may become the largest shareholder of South Korea's Hyundai Life Insurance Co. Ltd. by taking up the forfeited options of Hyundai Mobis Co. Ltd., Hyundai Life's second-largest shareholder, in a 300 billion won recapitalization plan, Pulse reported. Hyundai Mobis is reportedly not participating in the scheme due to the challenging automobile business environment.

ASEAN

* The Bank of Thailand's monetary policy committee voted 6-1 to keep the policy rate unchanged at 1.50%. The panel said the current approach remained conducive to sustaining economic growth and achieving the inflation target range of 1% to 4%.

* Thai lenders Siam Commercial Bank PCL, Kasikornbank PCL and Krung Thai Bank PCL have begun waiving fees for transactions such as transfers and bill payments made through digital channels, Post Today reported. Bangkok Bank PCL will do so from April 1, Manager Daily separately reported.

* The Indonesian parliament's financial commission endorsed Perry Warjiyo to be the next governor of Bank Indonesia, Reuters reported. The endorsement signals that the appointment is likely to be approved by the full legislature in the week of April 2.

* Singapore Exchange Ltd. is seeking market feedback on proposed safeguards against risks of a dual-class share structure, which allows certain shareholders more voting rights. The bourse noted that the two risks of the structure are expropriation, where founders extract benefits from the company, and entrenchment, where founders become enmeshed in management, Channel NewsAsia reported. The consultation will end April 27.

* Islamic financing in Malaysia grew 9.4% to 605.5 billion ringgit in 2017, compared with an increase of 11.8% in 2016, Bernama reported, citing the central bank's financial stability and payment systems report. The central bank noted that Islamic financing of businesses maintained its positive growth of 7.8%, which was allocated mainly to the finance, insurance and business services, and manufacturing sectors.

* Win Myint was elected by Myanmar's parliament as the country's next president, BBC News reported. The move comes a week after the resignation of Htin Kyaw amid growing health concerns. Win Myint's role will be largely ceremonial, the news outlet said, adding that Aung San Suu Kyi will act as the de facto president.

SOUTH ASIA

* India-based Punjab National Bank said its board has approved a payment of 65 billion rupees to counterparty lenders, honoring claims over a US$2 billion fraud case, Reuters reported, citing a company statement. The board's decision to honor maturing guarantees follows a report from the news wire that Punjab National Bank was working with authorities to settle its dispute with other lenders before the end of the financial year on March 31.

* India's ICICI Bank Ltd. said its board has arrived at the conclusion that there is no question of any quid pro quo, nepotism or conflict of interest in its lending practices, in response to reports on Managing Director and CEO Chanda Kochhar's involvement in the extension of loans to local conglomerate Videocon. The bank noted that it has a well-structured and standardized credit approval process, and that an individual employee cannot influence the lender's credit decisions.

* India-based Jana Small Finance Bank Ltd. officially kicked off operations, with plans to enter the affordable housing loan and consumer durable loan segments, The Economic Times reported. The small finance bank will initially open 19 branches and extend the number to 200 by June. The company obtained a license from the Reserve Bank of India in May 2017.

* Japanese financial services company ORIX Corp. has ceased to be a shareholder of Lanka Orix Leasing Co. Plc after selling its 30% stake to the leasing company's deputy chairman, I.C. Nanayakkara, for 12.82 billion Sri Lankan rupees. Nanayakkara, through LOLC Holdings (Pvt.) Ltd., acquired 142,458,490 shares in Lanka Orix Leasing at 90 rupees apiece, bringing his stake to 78.88%.

AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND

* Australia's royal commission, a judicial inquiry into the financial industry, will zero in on the country's business lending segment after a probe into the wealth management sector ends in the April round of hearings, The Australian reported. The business lending hearings are likely to be conducted by the end of May.

* Wayne Byres, chairman of the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority, told a parliamentary committee that the repeated evidence of serious flaws in mortgage lending, which were unearthed in the first round of royal commission hearings, was "very disappointing," The Sydney Morning Herald reported. Byres added that policing the banks' bad behavior was generally under the responsibility of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission.

* Bank of China Ltd. has been registered by the Reserve Bank of New Zealand to provide banking services in the country, and will operate locally as a branch. This comes after China Construction Bank Corp. obtained a license to operate as a branch in December 2017.

IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD

Middle East & Africa: Orange Bank eyes African expansion; South Africa a long way from S&P upgrade

Europe: More banks reveal UK gender pay gap; Deutsche Bank to sell certain Portugal ops

Latin America: Caixa Q4'17 profit spikes; BNDES president to resign this week

North America: Chicago may pursue Wells Fargo over predatory lending; Wedbush faces SEC charges

North America Insurance: Iowa Senate OKs association health plans; Oscar valued at $3.2B in new funding

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

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