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In This List

Intesa to close branches; Veneto banks seek Atlante help; ETFs face scrutiny

Street Talk Episode 68 - As many investors zig away from bank stocks, 2 vets in the space zag toward them

Street Talk Episode 66 - Community banks tap the debt markets while the getting is good

Street Talk Episode 67 - Veteran investor tabs Mick Mulvaney to help with latest financial stock-focused fund

Street Talk Episode 65 - Deferral practices trap US bank portfolios in purgatory


Intesa to close branches; Veneto banks seek Atlante help; ETFs face scrutiny

* The International Organization of Securities Commissions will examine the $4 trillion exchange-traded fund industry, following calls from the Central Bank of Ireland for greater scrutiny of how the fast-growing sector works and whether the rules governing such funds are adequate, the Financial Times wrote.

* Tension is rising in the ECB's supervisory board as members react to rumors from Germany that Bundesbank President Jens Weidmann is being pushed forward by the German government to be the next ECB president when Mario Draghi's mandate expires in 2019, Le Monde reported.

UK AND IRELAND

* The RBoS Shareholders Action Group urged its members to accept Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc's latest settlement offer of 82 pence per share, The Times reported. In a letter, the shareholder group stressed that while the revised offer is still below the 92 pence per share that some investors have been holding out for, there is a possibility that if they succeed in a trial, RBS could launch an appeal, which would drive up legal costs.

* Outgoing Irish Finance Minister Michael Noonan could pull the trigger on Allied Irish Banks Plc's long-awaited IPO as early as this week after the High Court dismissed businessman Vincent O'Donoghue's legal action aimed at preventing the sale of shares in the bank, The Irish Times wrote. Noonan has previously signaled that the first window of opportunity to float 25% of AIB is between May and early July.

* The Bank of England's monetary policy committee could be down to seven members instead of nine for the first time since 2006 as so-called election "purdah" rules will postpone any appointments until at least next month, The Guardian wrote. Deputy Governor Charlotte Hogg recently stepped down for failing to declare her brother's stint with Barclays Plc, while external monetary policy committee member Kristin Forbes is also due to step down next month.

* Brexit has prompted many of the U.K.'s biggest investment firms to protect their businesses ahead of formal Brexit negotiations, the Financial Times wrote. Fund houses including Legal & General Investment Management, Jupiter Fund Management Plc and M&G Investment Management Ltd. have enhanced their presence in mainland Europe as part of their respective post-Brexit plans. U.S. asset managers Blackstone Group LP and Legg Mason Inc. have also bolstered their non-U.K. operations.

* Aviva Plc is on the hunt for acquisitions in artificial intelligence and big data as it seeks to transform itself into a financial technology firm, The Telegraph reported. CEO Mark Wilson said the insurer's "pretty good balance sheet" puts it in a good position to ensure that it remained ahead of its rivals.

* U.K. peer-to-peer lender Zopa has secured a significant investment from India-based finance conglomerate Wadhawan Group, Sky News reported. The deal, set to be announced in the coming weeks, will see Zopa receiving roughly £40 million funding from Wadhawan and other investors.

* Financial software group Alfa's shares jumped more than 30% as it completed the U.K.'s largest flotation this year and the biggest technology listing since 2015, the Financial Times reported. Shares in the company began trading last Friday at 325 pence, at the top of its range, but the listing was 10x oversubscribed, pushing the value of the shares to as high as 425 pence in early trading.

* Former Barclays foreign exchange trader Jack Murray lost his unfair dismissal lawsuit against the bank after a court ruled that Barclays was right to fire him for sharing confidential information with rivals, Bloomberg News reported. Murray, who was one of the six traders suspended by the lender in connection with an investigation into the possible manipulation of foreign exchange markets in 2013, is the third former Barclays trader to lose an employment suit.

GERMANY, SWITZERLAND AND AUSTRIA

* Financial backing from public funds to stabilize HSH Nordbank AG cost German taxpayers a total of €14.46 billion since the bank's foundation in 2003, Hamburger Morgenpost reported, citing a new study conducted by a project team at the University of Hannover.

* The Vanguard Group Inc. plans to "significantly" invest in Continental Europe and expand in the institutional client sector in Switzerland and Germany, Sean Hagerty, head of Vanguard Europe, told Reuters. The expansion could also include Vanguard's highly successful, low-priced exchange traded fund portfolio for retail clients, finews.ch said.

* Half of 1,000 German banking clients surveyed by HSBC as part of its "Trust in Technology" study would switch their current account to another bank in case they would encounter IT security issues, Handelsblatt noted. Börsen-Zeitung also has a report.

* Südwestbank AG will keep its name after a takeover by BAWAG P.S.K., and existing client relations will not change, Stuttgarter Zeitung noted. The acquisition would be consistent with BAWAG's expansion plans beyond Austria, particularly in Germany, but the deal could put negative pressure on the Austrian lender's ratings should the transaction result in the deterioration of its capitalization and profitability or if it leads to unexpectedly high operational or integration risks, according to Fitch Ratings.

* German insurers' solvency ratios show high differences, Börsen-Zeitung reported, citing a study conducted by Commerzbank.

FRANCE AND BENELUX

* Consumer group Test-Achats started legal proceedings against AG Insurance SA, DKV Belgium, Ethias SA and KBC Assurances to try to force them to communicate how much they put into a common fund designed to cover the hospital costs of elderly patients, L'Echo reported.

* Crédit Mutuel Arkéa SACC CEO Ronan Le Moal told Les Echos that banks need to become more commercial and give clients value in their banking relationships. The group launched a €20 million, in-house built digital financial services adviser called Max.

SPAIN AND PORTUGAL

* A group including the largest investors of state-rescued Novo Banco SA wrote a letter to Portugal's central bank to manifest their opposition to a senior bond exchange operation that could result in €500 million losses to bondholders, Economia Online wrote. The investors, who together hold over 30% of the bank's bonds, also created a committee to acquire the transition bank, in a move that may jeopardize the sale of Novo Banco to the American private equity fund Lone Star.

* Meanwhile, Novo Banco CEO António Ramalho has chosen the financial institutions that will negotiate the senior bond exchange with international funds, Economia Online said. Mediobanca, Deutsche Bank and JP Morgan were selected to work with the Portuguese Resolution Fund.

ITALY AND GREECE

* Intesa Sanpaolo SpA is finalizing its updated strategy aimed at bolstering its insurance and asset management activities, the Financial Times reported. The plan, set to be presented along with the bank's annual results early next year, will include closing hundreds of branches and reducing the cost base by hundreds of millions of euros.

* Banca Popolare di Vicenza SpA and Veneto Banca SpA have sought help from investment bailout fund Atlante to help plug a €6.4 billion capital shortfall. Insiders told Reuters, however, that the fund had no intention of injecting more capital into the two banks.

* The Italian government aims to persuade the EU to revise its request for an additional €1 billion in capital for the rescue of Popolare di Vicenza and Veneto Banca, Il Sole 24 Ore wrote. Another meeting between the Italian Finance Ministry, the Bank of Italy, the ECB and EU Competition is due to be held Wednesday to continue discussing the restructuring plan of the two lenders with the aim of reducing the private capital required by the EU to around €600 million to €700 million, Il Messaggero wrote.

* Meanwhile, analysts and experts estimate that a bail-in for Popolare di Vicenza and Veneto Banca would cost the Italian banking system some €80 billion, Milano Finanza wrote.

* The only way to win over the EU on the bailout of Popolare di Vicenza and Veneto Banca seems to be a more radical cost cut plan for the two lenders, possibly doubling the number of redundancies, Corriere della Sera wrote. Financial consultants are also said to be studying a possible three-way merger with Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena SpA.

* Banca IFIS SpA finalized an agreement to acquire from Barclays a nonperforming loan portfolio with a nominal value of approximately €190 million. The portfolio, which consists of about 75,500 positions, is primarily made up of nonperforming consumer loans, along with some performing loan agreements regularly repaid by customers. Il Sole 24 Ore covered.

* Istituto Centrale delle Banche Popolari Italiane SpA is mulling further acquisitions while a market listing is a medium to long-term objective for the company, CEO Paolo Bertoluzzo told Affari & Finanza.

* Piraeus Bank SA will go ahead with a reverse split of its shares, aiming to increase the nominal value of each ordinary share of the bank, with a corresponding reduction in the number of its common shares, Euro2day reported.

NORDIC COUNTRIES

* Nordea Bank AB (publ) would still decide to move its headquarter from Sweden even if the Swedish government drops its proposal for increased bank charges, the bank's head of investor relations, Rodney Alfvén, told Dagens Industri. Alfvén said that Nordea "needs competition neutrality and a stable and predictable environment, and Sweden does not offer that at present."

* Three political parties in Denmark have agreed to propose a ceiling on the interest rates on consumer loans, Finanswatch reported. The three parties said such ceiling is necessary to protect customers.

EASTERN EUROPE

* The Russian central bank requested PJSC BANK JUGRA to set aside additional loan loss provisions in the amount of over 40 billion Russian rubles, Vedomosti reported, adding that the lender, whose capital amounts to 51.7 billion rubles, will need financial assistance from its shareholders in order to meet the regulatory requirement.

* B&N Bank co-owner and management board Chairman Mikail Shishkhanov will leave the post to serve as deputy chairman of the board of directors at Safmar Group, Banki.ru said. Alexander Lukin will be appointed acting management board chairman at the lender.

* Several M&A banking deals could soon be completed in Central and Eastern Europe, Reuters wrote, saying that OTP Bank Nyrt. and KBC Group NV could be the key drivers of the M&A activity in the region.

IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD

Asia-Pacific: Cathay signs deal for Scotiabank's Malaysia arm; Fairfax sells Indian JV stake

Middle East & Africa: Moody's acts on 3 Gulf countries; GCB shareholders reject board pay raise

NOW FEATURED ON S&P GLOBAL MARKET INTELLIGENCE

Deutsche Bank may have edge over US peers if euro clearing moves post-Brexit: Deutsche Bank's existing locations in continental Europe may provide it with a competitive advantage over U.S. peers if the EU forces euro-denominated clearing to move to the EU after Brexit, but it will still face costs, analysts say.

Sheryl Obejera, Arno Maierbrugger, Meike Wijers, Esben Svendsen, Beata Fojcik, Mike Hatzidakis, Ali Kayalar, Yael Schrage, Brian McCulloch, Sophie Davies and Mariana Aldano contributed to this report.

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