* Moody's cited sluggish growth and political and trade uncertainties as risks for financial institutions across emerging markets in 2020, saying slower economic activity could lead to a more challenging business climate. Banks in emerging economies in Europe, the Middle East and Africa carry a negative outlook, including the Turkish banking sector, while banking systems in central and eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States mostly have a stable outlook.
* Valdis Dombrovskis, EU commissioner in charge of financial services policy, said several of the bloc's member states missed a Jan. 10 deadline to fully apply strict new anti-money laundering rules, Bloomberg News reported. Dombrovskis said the European Commission plans to launch so-called infringement procedures in February to compel the nations to implement the measures.
* Leaders of the world's major banks and other financial firms dismissed calls for them to refuse working with clients who are major polluters and rejected suggestions that their efforts to fight climate change are not enough, the Financial Times reported.
* The central banks of the U.K., Sweden, Switzerland, the euro zone and Japan are considering issuing their own digital currencies, Reuters reported, citing the Bank of England and the ECB.
* European competition authorities will decide on London Stock Exchange Group PLC's $27 billion proposed acquisition of financial data provider Refinitiv Holdings Ltd. "around the summer," Reuters reported, citing Raffaele Jerusalmi, a board member at the British bourse.
UK AND IRELAND
* The U.K. Financial Conduct Authority said it will increase scrutiny of financial advisory firms over the next two years to protect consumers from excessive fees, investment scams and unsuitable advice. The regulator, meanwhile, launched a second review on the market for pensions and investment advice, the results of which it aims to publish this year.
* Lloyds Banking Group PLC is facing a court case over allegations that it uses small print in its loan contracts to avoid rules aimed at protecting borrowers, The Times of London wrote. Separately, Lloyds is looking to cut several jobs at its foreign exchange business by 2020-end in response to the division's low profitability and mounting competition from rivals, insiders told Reuters.
* Adrian Montague intends to retire as chairman of Aviva PLC this year once the British insurer has appointed his successor. Potential successors to Montague reportedly include former Lloyds CFO George Culmer and former Zurich Insurance Group AG executive Amanda Blanc, who are both members of Aviva's board.
* Mark Bailie, head of Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC digital lender Bó, is expected to leave the company as part of a management shake-up overseen by group CEO Alison Rose, Sky News reported. Bailie's departure will potentially be disclosed alongside or before RBS announces its full-year 2019 results on Feb. 14.
* British online banking firm Monese Ltd. is in negotiations to raise £100 million from new and existing investors and plans to close a deal in the first half, insiders told the FT. The latest fundraising will reportedly value the company at more than £1 billion.
* U.S. private equity firm Warburg Pincus LLC is considering a potential deal to acquire British financial firm Quilter PLC, insiders told Bloomberg News.
GERMANY, SWITZERLAND AND AUSTRIA
* At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Allianz Group CEO Oliver Bäte said the insurer is looking to double the commitments made under the Net-Zero Asset Owner Alliance, a group of European insurers that have committed themselves to responsible and sustainable investment to limit the effects of climate change, Reinsurance News wrote. Bäte also urged sovereign wealth funds of rich countries that derive their wealth from fossil energy sources to follow suit and commit to carbon-neutral investment portfolios, according to Bloomberg News.
* Swiss insurer Schweizerische Mobiliar Holding AG is preparing the launch of an insurtech in Dublin, Ireland, in the second half as part of its digital strategy.
* Nathalia Barazal, currently head of convertible bonds and fixed income and limited partner at Lombard Odier Asset Management (Europe) Ltd., has been appointed CEO of the division, finews.ch wrote. Barazal succeeds Hubert Keller, who will take over as senior managing partner of Banque Lombard Odier & Cie SA as of 2023.
FRANCE AND BENELUX
* Société Générale SA agreed with Banque Française Mutualiste to acquire ITL, an equipment leasing company specialized in the environmental, manufacturing and healthcare sectors. The acquisition, made through SocGen unit Franfinance SA, is expected to complete in the first half.
* Former Dutch central bank head Nout Wellink will be heard by a court over the fall of DSB Bank in 2009, Het Financieele Dagblad reported. Former DSB Bank CEO Dirk Scheringa claims information that led to the bank's bankruptcy was leaked deliberately.
SPAIN AND PORTUGAL
* Spanish lender Banco de Sabadell SA agreed to sell its asset management unit to France-based Amundi SA for €430 million as part of a 10-year distribution agreement between the two companies. The deal is expected to result in net capital gains of €351 million for the Spanish lender and boost its common equity tier 1 ratio by 43 basis points.
ITALY AND GREECE
* Italian cooperative lender Banca Popolare di Sondrio SCpA denied a request by investor Amber Capital to be granted full shareholder status, saying the decision was based on the fact that the investor's 6.1% stake exceeded a 1% cap set by regulators, Reuters reported.
* Italy-based Banco BPM SpA will propose Massimo Tononi, former head of Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena SpA and Cassa depositi e prestiti SpA, to succeed Carlo Fratta Pasini as chairman.
* Danish insurer Tryg A/S reported fourth-quarter 2019 profit of 705 million kroner, up from 110 million kroner a year ago. The company announced new financial targets for 2020, including a technical result of 3.3 billion kroner, a combined ratio of 86% or lower and return of equity after tax of 21% or higher.
* Norwegian insurer Gjensidige Forsikring ASA reported fourth-quarter 2019 profit attributable to owners of the company's continuing operations of 1.47 billion kroner, up from 1.29 billion kroner a year earlier.
* Miljenko Živaljić resigned as management board chairman and CEO of UniCredit SpA unit Zagrebacka Banka d.d., effective Jan. 21. The bank's supervisory board proposed member Romeo Collina as a candidate for interim deputy chairman of the management board.
* U.S. prosecutors said Turkish state-owned Türkiye Halk Bankası AŞ should be fined an escalating amount until it responds to criminal charges that it assisted Iran in evading U.S. economic sanctions, Reuters reported. Prosecutors proposed an initial fine of $1 million for the bank that would double each week, with the fines potentially totaling $7 million after the first week of noncompliance, $21 million after two weeks and about $1.8 billion after eight weeks.
* Dmitry Olyunin will step down as VTB Bank PJSC's first deputy chairman of the management board at the end of January, Vedomosti reported, citing CEO Andrey Kostin. Kostin will take over most of Olyunin's responsibilities. VTB's management, meanwhile, plans to recommend earmarking 50% of the lender's 2019 net profit for dividend payments, Kommersant reported.
* Poland's Supreme Audit Office said in a report that state institutions, including the Financial Supervision Authority, failed to protect consumers against the illegal activities of collapsed debt collector GetBack SA and companies offering its bonds, Parkiet wrote.
* Slovenia-based Nova Ljubljanska banka d.d. approached the country's Constitutional Court to decide if consumer loan restrictions put in place by the central bank in November 2019 were in line with the constitution, Reuters wrote. NLB believes that the new lending rules were implemented too quickly and are too drastic, but the central bank said it was too early to draw conclusions about the effects of the restrictions.
IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD
Asia-Pacific: Australian P2P lender eyes IPO; local governments lead Baoshang Bank rescue
Middle East & Africa: KFH-AUB merger timeline; Shuaa's asset management deal; Tunisia's fintech focus
Latin America: Caixa, Icatu strike partnership; stable outlook for LatAm banks
North America: Michigan CUs join forces; Goldman in South Africa; Currenex buyers wanted
Global Insurance: Australia ice and fire; airline insurance prices up; pet insurance market growth
NOW FEATURED ON S&P GLOBAL MARKET INTELLIGENCE
After explosive consumer growth, South Africa's Capitec targets business clients: Since launching in 2001, Capitec has become South Africa's largest bank by customers and the consumer-focused lender aims to achieve similar success among business clients following its acquisition of Mercantile Bank.
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Sheryl Obejera, Arno Maierbrugger, Meike Wijers, Gerard O'Dwyer, Beata Fojcik, Heather O'Brian, Stephanie Salti, Praxilla Trabattoni and Helen Popper contributed to this report.
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