* Analysts expect Chinese insurance companies to continue building up capital as pressures for business development remains, china.com.cn reported. In 2018, insurance companies increased capital by a total of 65 billion yuan, according to the Insurance Association of China.
* E.SUN Financial Holding Co. Ltd. plans to hire about 500 employees in 2019 amid a growth in its customer base, the Taipei Times reported, citing President Joseph Huang. The hiring plan will focus on financial consultants, as well as professionals on legal compliance and anti-money laundering.
* Citibank Taiwan Ltd. Chairman Paulus Mok said the lender expects a positive outlook on its corporate and consumer banking business in 2019, despite global economic tensions that include an ongoing trade war between the U.S. and China, the Taipei Times reported.
JAPAN AND KOREA
* Japan's four general insurers, Tokio Marine & Nichido Fire Insurance Co. Ltd., Sompo Japan Nipponkoa Insurance Inc., Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Co. Ltd. and Aioi Nissay Dowa Insurance Co. Ltd., are expected to report a record ¥15 billion in premium income from liability insurance for corporate directors and officers for fiscal 2018 as the number of contracts quadrupled since fiscal 2009, The Nikkei reported.
* The Bank of Japan is expected to lower its inflation forecast for the fiscal year starting April, Reuters reported, citing sources familiar with the matter. The move is likely due to a slump in oil prices and a darkening global outlook.
* Seoul-based Shinhan Financial Group Co. Ltd. has received regulatory approval from the Korean Financial Services Commission to acquire a 59.15% majority stake in Orange Life Insurance Co. Ltd. from private equity firm MBK Partners Ltd.
* Korea Development Bank is considering establishing a company that will manage the bank's holdings in companies including Daewoo Shipbuilding, Dongbu Heavy Metal and Daewoo E&C, The Chosun Ilbo reported, citing industry insiders.
* South Korea's Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki met with heads of the country's trade and commerce associations to revitalize the economy by creating a digital market where usage of big data and AI technologies are encouraged among startups and big companies, The Korea Times reported.
* CIMB Thai Bank PCL's board of directors approved President and CEO Kittiphun Anutarasoti's request for voluntary personal leave until March 3, Manager Daily reported. He will also take leave from the board. The request will be effective after the appointment of an acting president and CEO.
* The Thai Finance Ministry will seek Cabinet approval within January for the planned merger between TMB Bank PCL and Thanachart Bank PCL, Post Today reported, citing Prapas Kong-Ied, director of the State Enterprise Policy Office.
* Krung Thai Bank PCL expects the Thai central bank's monetary policy committee to raise its policy rate by another 25 basis points to 2% in 2019, resulting in the prime lending rate of commercial banks increasing by 0.16 to 0.24 percentage points, Post Today reported. It expects interest rates to maintain an upward trend until 2021.
* Thailand's Securities and Exchange Commission launched a microsite providing the public with basic knowledge about digital assets and initial coin offerings, Manager Daily reported.
* Bank Indonesia is expected to hold its key interest rate at 6% when it meets in January due to a better rupiah and improved economic conditions, Bisnis Indonesia reported.
* Indonesian state lender PT Bank Mandiri (Persero) Tbk may acquire a financial institution as it has an excess capital of 35 trillion rupiah, Bisnis Indonesia reported. Corporate secretary Rohan Hafas said the initiate will be included in the revision of the bank's business plan in June should it find the right institution.
* The Reserve Bank of India issued simplified rules for overseas borowing to let more qualified entities gain access to foreign financing. Under the new policy, users that are eligible for foreign direct investment may borrow up to US$750 million across tenors through the automatic route.
* The Reserve Bank of India imposed a penalty of 10 million rupees on state-owned Bank of Maharashtra for the latter's failure to comply with the country's know-your-customer norms and fraud-classification regulations.
* The Indian Union Council of Ministers gave Export-Import Bank of India the green light to receive a capital infusion of 60 billion rupees via recapitalization bonds, The Economic Times reported, citing Union Cabinet Minister Piyush Goyal.
AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND
* The royal banking commission's probe into misconduct in the Australian banking sector has led to the "unintended consequence" of weak retail spending by consumers and small and midsize enterprises that have struggled to borrow business loans, The Australian Financial Review reported, citing industry adviser James Stewart.
* Australian Securities and Investments Commission is expected to publish its findings later this year following a probe into Australian automotive dealers that encourage consumers to apply for loans despite their potential inability to repay them, The Australian Financial Review reported.
IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD
Middle East & Africa: QNB FY'18 profit up YOY; Absa targets mortgage market; KFH mulls Malaysian exit
Europe: UK lawmakers vote against Brexit deal; change of heart at Santander
Latin America: Argentina inflation hits 27-year high; Fitch downgrades Costa Rica
North America: BofA, Goldman Sachs Q4'18 earnings out; Fiserv acquiring First Data
Global Insurance: Cat losses $71.5B, Willis says; Markel faces litigation; PG&E liability wipeout
Janna Estares, Sally Wang, Sarun Saelee, Cathy Hwang, Emi White and Aditya Suharmoko contributed to this report.
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