* Credit Suisse Group AG agreed to pay a total of US$77 million to settle allegations that it violated the U.S. anti-bribery law, Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, in its Asia-Pacific hiring practices. The Swiss bank's Hong Kong subsidiary will pay a US$47 million criminal fine for its role in a scheme to win banking business by awarding employment to friends and family of Chinese officials, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. Credit Suisse will also pay the U.S. SEC US$30 million to settle related claims.
* U.S.-based investment manager BlackRock Inc. set up its first onshore equity fund in China, called the BlackRock China A-Share Opportunities Private Fund 1, and subsequently registered it with the Asset Management Association of China, or AMAC, Xinhua News Agency reported. The fund, which caters to qualified institutional and high-net-worth individual investors, will invest in the Chinese onshore capital market, according to a company statement.
* Bridgewater (China) Investment Management Co. Ltd., a Shanghai-based unit of U.S.-headquartered hedge fund firm Bridgewater Associates LP, and U.K.-based investment management firm Winton Group Ltd. obtained private securities investment fund manager licenses from the AMAC June 29, China Daily reported, citing the 21st Century Business Herald. The companies' first private securities products for qualified institutional and high-net-worth individual investors in China are expected to be rolled out after six months.
* China's A1 credit profile mirrors a number of strengths, including the vast size and strong growth rate of its economy, but achieving multiple objectives remains a key credit challenge for local authorities, Moody's said. The objectives comprise robust growth, deleveraging in the financial and real economies, enhancing capital allocation, as well as maintaining financial stability.
* Hong Kong-based alternative investment firm PAG is looking to enter the Indian market and is in the process of setting up a leadership team for the South Asian country, two people close to the development told India's Mint. The firm, formerly called Pacific Alliance Group, invests across diversified asset classes, such as distressed assets, pre-IPO financing and asset-backed lending, among others.
* Taiwan-based Chang Hwa Commercial Bank Ltd. opened a new branch in Manila amid its plan to expand its foothold in Southeast Asia, the Taipei Times reported. The new branch would enable the company to support the New Southbound Policy, an initiative by the island's government to be less dependent on China, according to the report.
JAPAN AND KOREA
* The Bank of Japan has become a top 10 shareholder in 40% of Japan's listed companies, according to The Nikkei's estimate, and now owns about 4% of the Tokyo Stock Exchange's First Section, which consists of shares from large companies. The development alarmed some fund managers, which worry about price distortions, diminished market discipline and other side effects, the publication said.
* Toho Bank Ltd. formed a partnership agreement with the Tokyo Stock Exchange to boost the bank's efforts to support local businesses in Japan's Fukushima prefecture looking to list on the exchange, Tokyo's The Nikkei reported.
* South Korea's Financial Supervisory Service officially appointed 120 insurance sales personnel as agents of the Special Investigation Unit to help the financial watchdog with investigation of illegal practices in the industry, The Chosun Ilbo reported.
* South Korea's National Pension Service, the third-largest pension fund globally, is facing skepticism over its premature and abrupt adoption of the government's stewardship code, which aims to encourage institutional investors to be more actively involved in corporate management, by the end of July, the Maeil Business Newspaper reported.
* Moody's assigned long-term local- and foreign-currency counterparty risk ratings of Baa1 to Bangkok Bank PCL, Kasikornbank PCL, Krung Thai Bank PCL, Siam Commercial Bank PCL and five other lenders. The agency also assigned long-term ratings of A3 to Bank of Ayudhya PCL and United Overseas Bank (Thai) PCL. The 11 lenders were given short-term ratings of Prime-2.
* Moody's assigned long-term local- and foreign-currency counterparty risk ratings of Baa1 to PT Bank Central Asia Tbk, PT Bank Rakyat Indonesia (Persero) Tbk and two other banks. The agency also assigned long-term ratings of Baa2 to PT Bank Mandiri (Persero) Tbk, PT Bank Negara Indonesia (Persero) Tbk and three other lenders. The nine banks were all given short-term ratings of P-2.
* Indonesian lender PT Bank Artha Graha Internasional Tbk dismissed five directors and one commissioner during its shareholders meeting, Bisnis Indonesia reported. The bank appointed five new directors and three commissioners, with CEO Andy Kasih and President Commissioner Kiki Syahnakri staying put.
* PT Bank Bukopin Tbk Director Rachmat Kaimuddin said the Indonesian government and Bosowa Corporindo will not exercise their rights in the bank's rights issue set for July 27, which will reduce their shares to 10% and 23% from the current 11.43% and 30%, Kompas reported. Bukopin aims to raise 1.55 trillion rupiah from the rights issue to increase its capital adequacy ratio to 13.5% from 2%.
* Bank Negara Malaysia and the Securities Commission Malaysia are urged to cooperate in defining tokens and cryptocurrencies to provide more clarity to the market, The Sun Daily reported, citing the Malaysian Blockchain Regulatory Report.
* A British court allowed a consortium of Indian banks to search and seize the properties of Vijay Mallya, an Indian businessman and the promoter of the now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines Ltd., in the U.K., Reuters said, citing media reports. The banks seek to recover more than US$1 billion of loans from the airlines company.
* Life Insurance Corp. of India is set to invest up to 260 billion rupees in Indian Railways Finance Corp. in fiscal 2018-19 via bond subscriptions, The Economic Times reported, citing an unnamed top government official. Indian Railways Finance, the market-financing arm of the state-owned railroad transporter, will issue bonds to meet its borrowing requirements, the source said.
* IIFL Holdings Ltd. unit India Infoline Finance Ltd. raised 3.25 billion Indian rupees from U.K.-based development finance institution CDC Group PLC via masala bonds, or rupee-denominated offshore bonds sold to overseas investors. The investment will help the Indian company grow its loan book and meet the capital needs of the underserved sectors.
* The State Bank of Pakistan rejected all objections raised regarding the merger of now-defunct KASB Bank into BankIslami Pakistan Ltd., including calls to re-evaluate the valuation of the defunct lender, Dawn reported. In 2015, KASB Bank was merged with and into BankIslami Pakistan at a token price of 1,000 rupees based on the valuation.
AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND
* Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. had considered closing more branches in 2018 and 2019 from its planned 50 branch closures in 2017, according to documents tabled during a legislative inquiry into Australia's financial sector, The Sydney Morning Herald reported. The topic is a sensitive issue as it touches on financial access in remote and regional areas in the country. It is unclear, however, if CEO Shayne Elliott approved the branch closure proposal submitted April 2017.
* The Australian Securities and Investments Commission permanently banned former National Australia Bank Ltd. employees Danny Merheb and Samar Merjan, also known as Samar Awad, from providing financial services after they were found to have submitted false loan documents to the bank. The two can file an application for review of the commission's decisions with the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.
* Australia's corporate regulator concluded that local companies are not prepared enough for the new accounting standards, following its review of the 2017 financial statements of 90 entities. Two new accounting standards, AASB 9 Financial Instruments and AASB 15 Revenue from Contracts with Customers, took effect Jan. 1.
IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD
Middle East & Africa: Dubai financial regulator probes Abraaj; Liberian central bank head resigns
Europe: Lloyds probe junked; 90% of Generali Leben to be sold; Danske case deepens
Latin America: Peru names Agrobanco chairman; Banco de Chile sues HK firm after cyberattack
North America: British court rejects Goldman Sachs appeal; Visa, Mastercard lose in fee ruling
Global Insurance: Generali selling German unit; global premiums tick up; Willis plans Africa reorg
Janna Estares, Sally Wang, Sarun Saelee, Cathy Hwang, Emi White and Aditya Suharmoko contributed to this report.
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