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Lloyd's commences India ops; APRA warns banks of higher capital demand

* Lloyd's of London has officially started operations in India, with MS Amlin Plc the first syndicate to join the branch and begin underwriting April 1. The U.K.-based insurance and reinsurance marketplace received final approval from the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India in January to set up its branch, Lloyd's India.

* U.S.-based merchant bank Raine Group LLC, which focuses exclusively on technology, media and telecommunications, will expand its operations to India through a new office that is set to open in early May. Former UBS banker Gaurav Mehta was named managing director and will head the bank's India business.

* Swiss Attorney General Michael Lauber said his probe into troubled investment fund 1Malaysia Development Bhd. was moving forward in spite of Malaysian authorities' refusal to cooperate, Reuters reported.

GREATER CHINA

* Ping An Insurance (Group) Co. of China Ltd. will continue its investment of about US$1 billion a year in internet development as the group grows its fintech and healthcare businesses to "diversify its income," the South China Morning Post reported, citing Jessica Tan, COO of the group.

* There were 6.57 million salespeople working in the Chinese insurance sector as of the end of 2016, 1.86 million more than at the beginning of the year, Beijing Business Today reported. Insiders said the increase was due to the China Insurance Regulatory Commission abolishing eligibility requirements for the profession.

* Taiwan's Financial Supervisory Commission urged life insurers to step up hedging measures as lawmakers raised concerns about foreign currency-related effects as the New Taiwan dollar gains strength, the Taipei Times reported. The FSC said that amid a 2.44% rise in the currency against the U.S. dollar in 2016, publicly traded companies posted NT$139.9 billion in foreign-exchange losses.

* Taiwan's Financial Supervisory Commission said there were no traces of a cyberattack on the island's banks, after reports surfaced that Taiwan was among the 18 countries targeted by North Korean hackers, Taiwan News reported, citing FSC Chairman Lee Ruey-tsang.

JAPAN AND KOREA

* Tetsuo Iimori, president of Mizuho Trust & Banking Co. Ltd., said he was willing to collaborate with Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc. following Mizuho Financial Group Inc.'s decision to merge its affiliate bank with a subsidiary of Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Holdings Inc., The Asahi Shimbun reported.

* Japan's corporate pensions generated positive yields for the first time in two years in fiscal 2016, citing higher share prices since the fourth quarter of 2016, Tokyo's The Nikkei reported. Major pensions yielded 3% to 5% on average, according to Rating and Investment Information, recovering from negative 0.97% in 2015.

* 77 Bank Ltd.'s wholly owned securities company has begun operations with ¥3 billion in assets, the Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun reported. The company will provide services to private customers from 77 Bank and aims to increase assets under management to ¥100 billion in three years.

* Four regional banks in Japan's Shikoku area Iyo Bank Ltd., Hyakujushi Bank Ltd., Awa Bank Ltd. and Shikoku Bank Ltd. will set up an asset management company to support local businesses, The Nikkei reported. The move is part of a comprehensive alliance formed among the companies in November 2016.

* KEB Hana Bank signed a memorandum of agreement with Korea Corporate Data Agency and Korea Technology and Information Promotion Agency to cooperate in supporting the country's small and medium-sized enterprises, the Korea Economic Daily reported.

ASEAN

* Five commercial banks in Thailand have prepared a total of more than 1.10 billion baht in cash reserves for their branches and ATMs nationwide to serve customers during the upcoming Songkran festival, Manager Daily reported.

* Kompas reported that the Indonesian Financial Services Authority issued guidelines for handling a financial crisis, covering the status and supervision of commercial banks, set-up and operations of bridge banks and action plans for systemically important banks.

* Malaysian International Trade and Industry Minister Mustapa Mohamed said the country does not "cheat" and is not involved in any wrongdoing related to international trade, responding to accusations by U.S. President Donald Trump who labeled 16 countries, including Malaysia, as "trade cheats," The Sun reported.

* Myanmar's Ruby Hill Financial Co. and Vietnam's Dragon Capital Group Ltd. signed a deal to establish a US$5 million joint venture, Ruby Hill Microfinance, to offer loan products and services to Myanmar's labor force. Ruby Hill will own a 51% stake in the joint venture, while Dragon Capital will hold the remaining 49%.

SOUTH ASIA

* Uday Kotak, managing director of Kotak Mahindra Bank Ltd., reiterated his interest in a potential acquisition of a 12% stake in Axis Bank Ltd. from Specified Undertaking of Unit Trust of India if the latter offers, Mint reported. Reports about Kotak Mahindra's big acquisition have been circulating after the Reserve Bank of India had asked to bring down its promoter shareholding to 30% by June 30.

* IndusInd Bank Ltd. plans to raise 10 billion Indian rupees through an issuance of Basel III-compliant Additional Tier 1 perpetual bonds on a private placement basis.

* The Pakistan Banks' Association called for a uniform and equitable tax rate for the banking sector and demanded the government reduce the rate to 30% from 35%, as part of its proposals for the upcoming 2017-2018 federal budget, Dawn reported.

AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND

* The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority warned that the country's largest banks may need to hike mortgage capital levels further in preparation for any market downturn, The Australian reported, citing APRA Chairman Wayne Byres. Further, the regulator will implement the 2014 financial system inquiry's recommendation to have "unquestionably strong" levels of capital.

* Westpac Banking Corp. CEO Brian Hartzer said the bank would be working more with startups and fintech companies, as the bank recognizes the need to adapt to technological changes, The Australian reported.

* Meanwhile, Westpac Chief Information Officer Dave Curran said the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's decision to deny the request of the country's banks to collectively bargain with Apple Inc. for its mobile payments system hinders innovation, The Australian reported.

IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD

Middle East & Africa: Moody's puts SA banks on review for downgrade; Al Hilal gets new CEO

Europe: Commerzbank pink slips; RBS' plan B probed; JPMorgan chief talks Brexit

Latin America: Investors fear Venezuelan default; S&P upgrades Argentina

North America: Lacker admits role in 2012 leak, leaves Fed; DOL delays fiduciary rule

North America Insurance: GOP struggles to find consensus on health bill; fiduciary rule postponed to June

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

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