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Citi seeks Asian insurance partner; Kotak Mahindra may buy finance company

* Citigroup Inc. is seeking to partner with a global insurer to sell insurance products across the bank's Asia-Pacific markets, Reuters reported March 28, citing a "source with knowledge of the matter." The proposed 15-year deal is worth at least US$500 million.

* Agricultural Bank of China Ltd. reported a 1.8% increase in net profit for full-year 2016, as the country's banking industry faces challenges such as tightening regulation and fiercer competition. The bank's full-year net profit edged up to 184.06 billion yuan from 180.77 billion yuan in the prior year.

* Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) gave Brazil and South Africa an additional year to complete the process of joining the development bank after the two countries missed deadlines at the end of 2016, the Financial Times reported. The Chinese-led bank has 57 members.

* About 11 Standard Chartered Plc Hong Kong-based employees, including a managing director, are leaving the lender, Reuters reported, citing a spokesperson from the bank. Those who left were part of the bank's private banking team for China, the publication reported, citing a source with knowledge of the move.

GREATER CHINA

* The China Insurance Regulatory Commission said the country's original premium income increased 31.27% year over year to 1.19 trillion yuan in the first two months of 2017, Shanghai Securities News reported. The balance of insurance funds increased 3.44% from the beginning of 2017 to 1.39 trillion yuan at the end of February.

* Huang Hong, vice chairman of the China Insurance Regulatory Commission, said the regulator is revising regulation for the health insurance management sector, the 21st Century Business Herald reported.

* Yuanta Financial Holdings Co. Ltd. named Wen-Ming Hong as president of unit Yuanta Life Insurance Co. Ltd. He replaces Tien-Fu Kao, who resigned as president and director of the insurer.

* Apple Inc.'s mobile wallet platform Apple Pay will launch its services in Taiwan, as the U.S.-based company collaborates with Taiwanese banks, Taipei Times reported.

JAPAN AND KOREA

* Japan Post Bank Co. Ltd. will start offering unsecured loans to deposit customers through its 24,000 postal outlets nationwide from 2019, The Nikkei reported. Under the program, which requires government approval, a ¥500,000 limit will be set for individuals borrowing against deposits.

* Hachijuni Bank Ltd. signed an agreement with ICICI Bank Ltd. to access the Indian bank's local financial network in support of Japanese companies moving into India, The Nikkei reported.

* Dai-ichi Life Holdings Inc. has purchased NZ$140 million of bonds from Asian Development Bank as part of its environmental, social and governance investing program, The Nikkei reported.

* The South Korean banking sector workforce declined to 114,775 at the end of 2016 from 117,023 a year ago, The Financial News reported, citing data from the Financial Supervisory Service. The number of branches and ATMs also dropped by 175 and 2,641, respectively.

ASEAN

* Bank of Ayudhya PCL aims to increase its provision of credit for small and medium-sized enterprises by 6.8% in 2017, for a total of 164.049 billion baht, up from 153.566 billion baht for 2016, Post Today reported.

* The Thai Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors said it opposes an initiative by commercial banks seeking permission from the Bank of Thailand to sell insurance at the homes or offices of customers, citing an overlap of duties with insurance agents, Post Today reported.

* The Thai General Assurance Association collaborated with 13 universities to train more personnel, including actuaries for the industry, to meet an expected increase in demand, Post Today reported. Premium collection is expected to stand at about 600 billion baht and 1 trillion baht in the next ten years and 20 years, respectively.

* PT Asuransi Jasa Indonesia (Persero) has set a net profit target of 510 billion rupiah for 2017, Bisnis Indonesia reported.

SOUTH ASIA

* State Bank of India Chairman Arundhati Bhattacharya expects to raise the lender's stake in joint venture SBI Card Co. Ltd. to 74% by the end of June, The Hindu Business Line reported. The bank will need to buy part of General Electric Capital Corp.'s holding in the company.

* Kotak Mahindra Bank Ltd.'s planned capital increase through a share sale has led to speculation that the lender might acquire nonbanking finance company Mahindra & Mahindra Financial Services Ltd., The Economic Times reported. Details of the planned capital raise have not been disclosed.

* The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India imposed a fine of 2 million rupees on ICICI Prudential Life Insurance Co. Ltd. for a number of violations, including not settling maturity claims within a prescribed period and having a huge number of outstanding claims, The Hindu Business Line reported.

* ICICI Bank teamed up with Swedish communications company Truecaller to launch the mobile payment service Truecaller Pay, which will allow customers to use a number of financial services offered by the bank.

AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND

* The Australian Bankers' Association rejected five recommendations by an independent code of conduct review carried out by Phil Khoury, former executive general manager at the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, including raising credit limits only if the customer initiates the process, the Australian Associated Press reported. The ABA said legislation is already in place to ensure credit increases are made responsibly.

* The Insurance Council of Australia declared Cyclone Debbie a catastrophe and suggested the damage could reach billions of Australian dollars, although an official estimate is yet to be made, ABC News reported.

* Rabobank New Zealand Ltd. posted a 14% decline in its 2016 net profit after tax to NZ$89.5 million, down from NZ$104 million in 2015. The drop in profit was attributed to NZ$15.1 million of impairment charges on bad debts.

IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD

Middle East & Africa: Gordhan ordered home; Ghana rate cut; Gulf's 1st green bond

Europe: BoE outlines stress-test scenarios; OneSavings Bank stake sold; NN Group sued

Latin America: Brazil nears fiscal deficit plan; Grupo Aval earnings slide on impairments

North America: Big banks take on Project Scalpel; Scaramucci may get government job in 2 months

North America Insurance: Senate GOP open to bipartisan ACA overhaul; '16 global insured losses spike

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

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