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China scraps insurance JV ownership limits; Philippines probes Westpac

GREATER CHINA

* A Chinese local government financing vehicle, Hohhot Economic & Technological Development Zone Investment Development Group, repaid 565 million yuan of principal and 68 million yuan interest on its 1 billion yuan privately issued note after missing an early payment deadline in the week of Dec. 2, Bloomberg News reported. The borrower secured an extension to repay the remaining 435 million yuan principal by March 6.

* Taiwan's financial services companies reduced their total exposure to China and Hong Kong to NT$3.515 trillion in the previous quarter from NT$3.623 trillion in the second quarter, the Taipei Times reported, citing a Financial Supervisory Commission official.

* The China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission said in a notice that the limits on foreign ownership in life insurance joint ventures will be canceled from Jan. 1, 2020, which would eventually allow overseas funds to own 100% of life insurance ventures.

* FSC Chairman Wellington Koo said the combined net profit of Taiwan's financial sector is expected to hit a record NT$600 billion for 2019 despite the risk exposure of 11 banks in a syndicated loan case reaching NT$5.1 billion, the Taipei Times reported.

JAPAN AND KOREA

* Japan's Financial Services Agency is expected to revise its code of conduct for institutional investors in 2020, urging them to focus on the environment and governance when making investments, Tokyo's The Nikkei reported. The nonbinding stewardship code was introduced in 2014. According to the Global Sustainable Investment Alliance, global ESG investments increased 30% year over year to a total of US$30.7 trillion in 2017.

* Japan's Hyakugo Bank Ltd. undertook ¥100 million of privately placed bonds for two regional securities firms, based on its own assessment of the United Nation's sustainable development goals, The Nikkei reported.

* The Korea Exchange has vowed to strengthen regulatory measures on algorithmic trading next year with an establishment of a clear definition for some trading practices and various risk management systems to prevent the destabilization of the local stock market, The Korea Herald reported.

ASEAN

* Thai Finance Minister Uttama Savanayana said the ministry plans to launch an exchange for trading the shares of small businesses and community enterprises in 2020, Krungthep Turakij reported. The plan is part of measures aimed at strengthening the local economy, Uttama said.

* Bank Indonesia expects the country's current account deficit in 2019 to decrease to 2.7% of its GDP, from 2.93% in 2018, Infobank reported. The central bank projects GDP growth to reach 5.1% year over year in 2019, citing strong consumption.

* Singapore’s Maybank Kim Eng Holdings Ltd. cut its workforce by 5% as part of a restructuring of its retail brokerage operations, The Business Times reported. A company spokesperson told the newspaper that the restructuring was prompted by changes in the investment banking sector from shifting customer preferences, increased automation of brokerage offerings and changes in the regulatory environment.

* The Bank of Thailand is weighing the possibility of introducing a refinance program for credit card debtors with good payment history, The Nation reported, citing Chantavarn Sucharitakul, the regulator's assistant governor of communications and corporate relations.

SOUTH ASIA

* The board of India's IDBI Bank Ltd. approved a plan to sell off a stake of up to 49% in both IDBI Capital Markets & Securities Ltd. and IDBI Intech Ltd., according to a disclosure. The lender plans to retain control of both subsidiaries.

* State Bank of India disclosed that the Reserve Bank of India calculated the bank's gross nonperforming assets at 1.847 trillion rupees as of March 31, a divergence of 119.32 billion rupees from the bank's own calculations. Similarly, the central bank assessed provisions for nonperforming assets as of March 31 at 1.189 trillion rupees, a divergence of 120.36 billion rupees from the bank's calculation.

* Daimler Financial Services India Pvt. Ltd. withdrew its planned Dec. 12 private placement to raise 1.5 billion rupees by issuing 1,500 nonconvertible debentures of 1 million rupees each, Mint reported. The firm cited unfavorable market conditions as a reason for the move.

* BankIslami Pakistan Ltd. raised its paid-up capital by 1 billion rupees to 11 billion rupees, the country's Dawn reported. The lender also plans to issue 2 billion rupees of Islamic additional Tier 1 capital instruments, of which 300 million rupees will be offered to the public.

AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND

* Westpac Banking Corp. raised A$770 million through a share sale plan that closed Dec. 2. The lender will issue 31.9 million new shares for A$24.20 each to applicants Dec. 11. The shares will begin trading Dec. 12.

* The Philippines' Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking is working with the Anti-Money Laundering Council and the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre to probe the money laundering allegations against Westpac, The Australian reported, citing Menardo Guevarra, the Philippines' justice secretary. The case could be referred to the National Bureau of Investigation if enough evidence is gathered.

* The liquidator of Lehman Brothers Australia moved the country's Federal Court against Fitch Ratings for A$40 million, The Sydney Morning Herald reported. Ernst & Young's Marcus Ayres alleged that the rating agency misrepresented the risk of bad investment products sold to Australian investors.

IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD

Middle East & Africa: Moody's revises outlook on African banks; Banco de Fomento Angola Q3 profit down

Europe: Deutsche warns of headwinds; Cboe to acquire EuroCCP; Kazakh banks to get aid

Latin America: XP said to mull higher IPO pricing; Banco BMG nominates new CEO

North America: Texas banks in deal; Morgan Stanley cutting 1,500 jobs; Cboe buying EuroCCP

Global Insurance: US commercial insurance price hikes; global life outlook; Lloyd's debt raise

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

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