* Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd. is in early talks to sell a 25% stake in India-based joint venture ICICI Lombard General Insurance Co. Ltd. for up to US$1 billion, Reuters reported, citing "sources familiar with the matter." The Canadian insurer currently holds a 35% stake in the joint venture.
* Mizuho Financial Group Inc. CEO Yasuhiro Sato said the company could move its London-based securities unit to another city in Europe in the wake of a "heavy Brexit," with Luxembourg, Amsterdam and Dublin among those under consideration, Bloomberg News reported.
* Japan-based ORIX Corp. agreed to purchase US$290 million worth of shipping loans from Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc, Reuters reported, citing "sources with direct knowledge of the deal." RBS' loans are of investment grade and were made to Greek borrowers.
* A New Zealand court handed over the control of assets worth more than US$265 million to Jho Low, the alleged mastermind of the 1Malaysia Development Bhd. scandal, and his family, The Australian reported.
* The Chinese government established a 100-billion-yuan investment fund to support internet development, Xinhua News Agency reported. Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd. became one of the fund's six strategic partners, which invested a total of 30 billion yuan, while another 150 billion yuan of credit lines were offered by Agricultural Bank of China Ltd. and China Development Bank Corp., among others.
* China's National Bureau of Statistics said the country's economy expanded 6.8% in the fourth quarter of 2016, Xinhua News Agency reported. China's GDP grew 6.7% for the full year.
* The nonperforming loan ratios of four listed banks in the Chinese provinces of Jiangsu and Zhejiang — Bank of Wujiang Co. Ltd., Bank of Changshu Co. Ltd, Bank of Shanghai Co. Ltd. and Bank of Ningbo Co. Ltd. — declined year over year at the end of 2016, the Securities Times reported. According to industry insiders, the banks had been more cautious with extending syndicated loans.
* China issued 36.1 trillion yuan worth of bonds in its bond markets in 2016, up 54.2% year over year, China Business News reported. A total of 32.2 trillion yuan of bonds were issued in the interbank bond market, up 53.8% year over year. The balance of bonds issued in the bond market stood at 63.7 trillion yuan as of the end of 2016.
JAPAN AND KOREA
* Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ Ltd. and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp. will launch a platform for round-the-clock intrabank fund transfers in February and April, respectively, The Nikkei reported. With the move, customers will be able to send or receive transfers within the banks in real time.
* Asahi Mutual Life Insurance Co. plans to issue US$350 million of subordinated bonds in January, The Nikkei reported. It is the company's first overseas issuance of subordinated debt.
* South Korea's Seoul Central District Court ordered Deutsche Bank AG to pay 8.58 billion won worth of compensation to a group of South Korean exchange-linked securities investors in a class action lawsuit over the bank's flash sale of underlying shares just before the maturity date in 2009, The Chosun Ilbo reported.
* NongHyup Financial Group Inc. will boost its equity investment in NH Capital Co. Ltd. by 100 billion won to 270 billion won, Yonhap News Agency reported. The nonbank unit plans to bulk up its assets to 5.5 trillion won in 2020 from 3.1 trillion won at the end of 2016.
* Mirae Asset Daewoo Co. Ltd. will issue 220 billion won of subordinated bonds, Yonhap News reported.
* Bank of Thailand Governor Veerathai Santiprabhob affirmed that financial institutions in Thailand are still strong, Krungthep Turakij reported. The remark came after CIMB Thai Bank PCL announced a plan to raise capital by strengthening its capital adequacy ratio and expanding its business.
* A regional bank in Indonesia's northern Aceh region will be established soon with an initial capital of about 5 billion rupiah, Kompas reported.
* PT Bank Victoria International Tbk is targeting loan growth of 13% in 2017, Bisnis Indonesia reported.
* The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas' monetary board approved new policies for past due and nonperforming loans including restructured loans, BusinessWorld reported. The new policies will take effect Jan. 1, 2018.
* Nepal's Mega Bank Nepal Ltd. agreed to merge with Tourism Development Bank Ltd. to meet capital requirements, The Rising Nepal reported. Mega Bank Nepal will be the surviving entity following the merger. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
* State Bank of India said it raised 56.81 billion rupees with its issuance of nearly 210,727,400 preferred shares to the Indian government at a price of 269.59 rupees per share.
* National Securities Depository Ltd. intends to start operations of its payments bank in three months as it expects to receive a license before February, Mint reported, citing G.V. Nageswara Rao, managing director and CEO of the company. Basic services will be initially available while full-scale banking operations may take longer to become operational.
* Indian lenders including State Bank of India and ICICI Bank Ltd. are urging the Reserve Bank of India to ease debt management rules in a bid to restructure debts owed by Bhushan Steel Ltd. and Essar Steel Ltd. amounting to 870 billion rupees, Bloomberg News reported, citing "people with knowledge of the matter."
AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND
* Westpac Banking Corp. increased its strategic stake in cybersecurity company QuintessenceLabs, with plans for the I.T. business to provide the bank with a system that could withstand attacks by "quantum computers," The Australian Financial Review reported, citing Dave Curran, the bank's chief information officer.
* Australian banks are behind schedule on their six-point plan to enact reforms in the industry, which is expected to be implemented by the end of 2017, The Sydney Morning Herald reported, citing a report by Ian McPhee, a former Commonwealth auditor-general.
Sally Wang, Jonathan Cheah, Jaekwon Lim and Santibhap Ussavasodhi contributed to this report.
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