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IDFC Bank, Capital First close merger; Bank of China names employee supervisors 

GREATER CHINA

* China decreased its holdings of U.S. debt to US$1.138 trillion at October-end from US$1.151 trillion at September-end as part of efforts to minimize financial and political risks, the Global Times reported, citing an industry source. The move to cut U.S. Treasury bonds comes as the country's economic relations with the U.S. are at a vulnerable stage, the publication noted.

* Bank of China Ltd. said Deng Zhiying, Gao Zhaogang and Xiang Xi resigned as employee supervisors, effective Dec. 14. Meanwhile, the bank appointed Wang Zhiheng, Li Changlin and Leng Jie employee supervisors of the bank at a Dec. 14 meeting.

* Export-Import Bank of the Republic of China said its insured amount in the 18 countries covered by the Taiwanese government's New Southbound Policy initiative has increased 8.33% year over year to NT$20 billion as of the end of November, the island's Central News Agency reported.

JAPAN AND KOREA

* Saitama Resona Bank Ltd. signed an agreement with Japan Bank for International Cooperation to offer a foreign currency-denominated credit line, Tokyo's The Nikkei reported. The credit line is aimed at supporting mid-tier companies as well as small and midsize businesses funding their overseas business activities with Saitama Resona Bank.

* Tokio Marine & Nichido Life Insurance Co. Ltd. will introduce comprehensive coverage for data brokers who collect and provide information obtained from customers including their purchase histories, The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun reported. The service will be rolled out this month and will cover damages to third parties, as well as costs associated with risk management, such as those for investigation, call centers and data restoration.

* Kansai Mirai Financial Group Inc. is set to appoint Tetsuya Kan president of Kansai Mirai Bank, which will be formed in April 2019 as a result of a merger between units Kinki Osaka Bank Ltd. and Kansai Urban Banking Corp., The Nikkei reported.

* South Korea's BNK Financial Group Inc. appointed seven new executive directors and formed new departments that focus on global investment banking and IT-related tasks, the Maeil Business Newspaper reported.

ASEAN

* The Thai Cabinet has approved a value-added tax refund program for debit cardholders, Daily News reported, citing Finance Minister Apisak Tantivorawong. Under the program, each cardholder will receive a 5% VAT refund of up to 1,000 baht when spending on items, excluding cigarettes and alcoholic beverages, with debit cards between Feb. 1 and Feb. 15, 2019.

* The Bank of Thailand expects commercial banks to withdraw 130 billion baht of banknotes by the week of Dec. 31, Daily News reported. The amount is up 4.5% from a year earlier.

* Indonesian lender Bank Mantap expects loan growth to reach 40% in 2019, Kompas reported. The projection was made after the bank received a capital injection of 500 billion rupiah from PT Bank Mandiri (Persero) Tbk and PT Taspen (Persero).

SOUTH ASIA

* IDFC Bank Ltd. and Capital First Ltd. completed their merger after obtaining all necessary regulatory approvals. The merged entity will be called IDFC First Bank, subject to shareholders' approval. Meanwhile, IDFC Bank's board approved the appointment of V. Vaidyanathan, founder and chairman of Capital First, as managing director and CEO of the merged entity.

* U.S.-based Carlyle Group LP is looking to acquire Punjab National Bank's stake in PNB Housing Finance Ltd., a move that would give the private equity firm a controlling stake in the housing finance firm, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg News.

* Yes Bank Ltd. recommended its director Brahm Dutt for the position of chairman at the Reserve Bank of India, Press Trust of India reported, citing sources.

AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND

* The Australian Securities and Investments Commission has permanently banned financial planner Ahmed Saad from providing financial services after it was found that Saad fraudulently obtained money from client retail superannuation fund accounts.

* ASIC revoked Evermore Money Management Pty Ltd.'s Australian financial services license for failing to comply with several key obligations as an AFS licensee. The cancellation took effect Dec. 4.

* John McDermott, chief economist of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand, will be leaving the bank in 2019 to join the economic research institute Motu as an executive director.

IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD

Middle East & Africa: Diamond Bank confirms Access Bank merger deal; Moody's lifts Bahrain outlook

Europe: Saxo Bank to buy BinckBank for €424M; Bankia off-loads €3B of bad loans

Latin America: Banco BMG confirms IPO postponement; Mexican sofipo Coincidir to be liquidated

North America: Goldman says previous Malaysia government lied; BNY Mellon to pay $54M

Global Insurance:Epic Integro deal; PartnerRe quitting Dubai; Centene boosts enrollment

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

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