* U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May has signed the formal letter that will trigger the country's departure from the EU, nine months after Britain voted to leave the bloc, BBC News writes. The British government will have two years to settle the terms of its departure from the EU before it formally withdraws in March 2019.
* More than two-thirds of the 222 financial services companies tracked by EY are yet to speak publicly about their contingency plans for Brexit, City A.M. writes. Of the firms that took part in the survey, 23% have declared plans to shift, or are considering shifting, staff or operations away from the U.K., while 7% expressed their commitment to staying in Britain.
* Global insured losses from disasters reached $54 billion last year, up 42% from 2015 and the highest since 2012, according to Swiss Re Ltd. Total economic losses from natural catastrophes and man-made disasters in 2016 amounted to $175 billion, almost twice the $94 billion recorded a year earlier.
UK AND IRELAND
* Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc has proposed a 43.5 pence-per-share settlement with RBoS Shareholder Action Group to resolve a lawsuit over its 2008 cash call, insiders tell Sky News. The proposed amount is higher than the 41.5 pence-per-share settlement reached with four other claimant groups, with the increase designed to cover the group's higher legal fees since the resolution of the earlier claims. However, the group is believed to have rejected the proposal.
* Barclays Plc unit Barclays Bank Plc is in exclusive discussions with Malawi-based First Merchant Bank Ltd. to sell its 68% stake in Barclays Bank of Zimbabwe Ltd.
* Cinven Ltd. and Permira Advisers LLP sold an aggregate of 95 million ordinary shares in U.K.-based JRP Group Plc, the company created from the merger of Just Retirement Group and Partnership Assurance Group Plc, at a price of 130 pence per share. The sale represents approximately 10.2% of JRP Group's issued share capital, up from the combined 8% stake that the two firms initially planned to sell. Following completion, Cinven and Permira will hold about 15.5% and 23.2% of JRP Group, respectively.
* The U.K. Financial Conduct Authority has resolved to identify traders by names in penalty notices to companies, Bloomberg News reports. Enforcement head Mark Steward said the regulator is planning to conduct investigations faster and concurrently reach conclusions on companies and its employees for it to be able to name individuals in settlement notices to firms.
* London-based consumer lending platform Lendable has secured a £100 million investment by global credit investor Waterfall Asset Management, City A.M. writes. The investment represents one of the largest institutional investments in European peer-to-peer lenders, Business Insider U.K. notes.
* Standard Chartered Plc is set to lose approximately 11 private bankers in Hong Kong, including Teresa Lee, managing director of StanChart private banking in Hong Kong, Reuters reports.
* U.S. mobile payments company Square Inc., led by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, has announced its launch in the U.K., the Financial Times writes. This is the fifth market for the company, which already operates in Canada, Japan and Australia, as well as the U.S.
GERMANY, SWITZERLAND AND AUSTRIA
* Commerzbank AG is in exclusive talks with HSBC Holdings Plc to transfer its securities settlement business to the U.K.-based banking group, insiders tell Reuters.
* The European Commission is expected to announce its veto against the merger of Deutsche Börse AG and London Stock Exchange Group Plc at a press conference today, AFP reports.
* Funds mistakenly transferred by German development bank KfW to other lenders in February exceeded the initially reported €6 billion, Handelsblatt notes.
* The Association of Swiss Private Banks sent a letter to the Swiss finance minister expressing concerns about the planned client data exchange with financial authorities in China and Russia, where many of the lenders' high-net-worth private banking customers are from. The private banks fear a slump in business and suggest a protective clause for customers "without risk potential."
* Evangelische Bank eG will cut around 100 jobs, or 20% of its staff, by 2021, Handelsblatt reports.
FRANCE AND BENELUX
* Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem is facing growing calls for him to resign after he said last week that southern European countries had wasted money on "booze and women" in the lead-up to the European debt crisis while northern countries had showed "solidarity" with those member states affected by the crisis, with more than 70 Members of the European Parliament signing a letter calling for him to step down, Het Financieele Dagblad reports.
SPAIN AND PORTUGAL
* Through Qatar Holding LLC, Qatar Investment Authority plans to sell up to 92 million units in Banco Santander SA subsidiary Banco Santander (Brasil) SA in a global secondary offering, which, based on the March 27 closing price of Santander Brasil's ADS units of $9.77, could be worth $781.6 million, or $898.8 million assuming a full exercise of the overallotment option.
* Banco Popular Español SA is in advanced talks with conglomerate Libra Group for the potential transfer of part of the Spanish bank's real estate assets, with Libra potentially investing at least between €350 million and €400 million in cash, El Confidencial reports, adding that the company could also buy a stake in Banco Popular.
* Even though it will have no voting rights in Novo Banco SA after the planned sale to U.S. private equity firm Lone Star, the Portuguese Resolution Fund, which will keep a 25% stake in the troubled lender, will be allowed to intervene in the sales of problematic assets with the approval of the EU, Economia Online notes. Meanwhile, the Portuguese government is structuring the sale in a way to be able to avoid a parliament vote on it, Jornal de Negócios writes, with left-wing party Bloco de Esquerda, which wants to nationalize the bank, keen to block the agreement, Economia Online adds.
* The deadline for Unicaja Banco SA's stock-market flotation is the first week of July, with a roadshow to be carried out a month earlier, Expansión writes, citing unnamed sources. Given the tight time frame, the transaction could be put off if investor demand is not at the expected levels, with Unicaja Banco hoping to achieve a valuation of more than €2.5 billion. The mid-sized Spanish lender halted the listing of its shares last year when Spain faced political instability and market conditions were not favorable.
ITALY AND GREECE
* Banca Popolare di Vicenza SpA posted a 2016 loss of €1.9 billion and said it was "bleeding deposits," raising doubts regulators will consider it to be viable and approve a planned state bailout, Reuters writes. Popolare di Vicenza shareholders owning 71.9% of shares that were subject to a settlement offer to partially compensate them for share-price losses accepted that offer, as did 73% of Veneto Banca SpA shareholders, MF notes.
* Intesa Sanpaolo SpA targets a net nonperforming loan ratio of 6% by the end of 2019, compared to 8.2% at the end of 2016, a source tells Reuters.
* Banca Carige SpA shareholders voted to take legal action against former chairmen Giovanni Berneschi and Cesare Castelbarco Albani, ex-CEO Piero Montani and Amissima, the insurance group controlled by U.S. private equity fund Apollo that acquired Carige's insurance subsidiaries, MF reports, saying the bank is seeking damages of €1.25 billion. Meanwhile, Banca Carige CEO Guido Bastianini said the bank aims to carry out a €450 million capital increase this summer, Reuters reports.
* If Nordea Bank AB (publ) decides to move its headquarters out of Sweden, Copenhagen and Helsinki are the obvious alternatives, the bank told FinansWatch. Yet the Danish company for failed banks, Finansiel Stabilitet, said that if Nordea moves to Denmark due to the implementation of higher bank taxes in Sweden, the 8.8 billion Danish kroner bank guarantee fund would become too small and would have to ask Danish banks for greater contributions, Børsen reports.
* The Norwegian FSA wants to tighten rules on consumer lending, saying many banks have weak procedures for assessing borrowers' debt-servicing capacity, Dagens Næringsliv reports.
* The number of reports of suspicious transactions is too high for the Danish financial police to review them all, Finans reports.
* U.S. authorities yesterday arrested Mehmet Hakan Atilla, a deputy general manager at Türkiye Halk Bankasi AS, on charges of conspiring to violate U.S. sanctions against Iran, Reuters reports. Atilla is accused of working with Turkish gold trader Reza Zarrab to launder millions of dollars through U.S. banks on behalf of the Iranian government and companies.
* PAO Sberbank of Russia sold its Ukrainian unit to a consortium of buyers including JSC Norvik Banka and businessman Said Gutseriev for around $130 million, a little below the value of PJSC Sberbank's capital, Kommersant reports. The Ukrainian lender will operate under the Norvik brand after the acquisition, which is expected to be completed by mid-2017.
* The Russian government approved details regarding the transfer of BANK ROSSIYSKY CAPITAL (PJSC) from its current owner, the Russian Deposit Insurance Agency, to the JSC The Agency for Housing Mortgage Lending, Kommersant says. The ownership changes will be completed within six months, while improving the financial situation of the bank as part of the process will cost the DIA around 50 billion Russian rubles.
* PJSC Sovcombank completed the process of merging with AO Metallurgical Commercial Bank, becoming the legal successor of the absorbed lender, Banki.ru reports.
IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD
Asia-Pacific: Citi seeks Asian insurance partner; Kotak Mahindra may buy finance company
Middle East & Africa: Citi seeks Saudi return; Barclays Zimbabwe on the block
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
NOW FEATURED ON S&P GLOBAL MARKET INTELLIGENCE
Russian-owned banks face Ukraine squeeze-out as bad loans soar: A hostile public and regulators are likely to push Russian state-owned banks out of Ukraine.
Portuguese convertible bond opens up market for others — at a price: Caixa Geral de Depositos' Additional Tier 1 issue shows investors are not completely averse to Portuguese bank bonds, but only if they come with the right price.
David Hutter, Arno Maierbrugger, Danielle Rossingh, Esben Svendsen, Beata Fojcik, Thanasis Kakalis, Ali Kayalar, Heather O'Brian, Stephanie Salti, Praxilla Trabattoni and Mariana Aldano contributed to this report.
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