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China to limit regional banks' expansion; Woori Bank gets nod on holding company

GREATER CHINA

* China announced plans to control the expansion of lending by regional banks to areas beyond their home bases, in a bid to combat financial risk, Bloomberg News reported. The China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission said regional banks must have the proper licenses to provide financing outside of the region where they are based; otherwise they must wind down those businesses.

* The Shanghai Stock Exchange and the Shenzhen Stock Exchange issued new rules to prevent listed companies from abusing share suspension practices, Caixin reported. The exchanges shortened the suspension period for a major asset restructuring to 10 days from six months. Shares of companies whose major asset restructurings do not involve new share issuance can no longer be suspended.

* A central bank-approved clearing company will offer services to city commercial banks within China, which will help ease capital flow at these banks, the People's Bank of China said. PBOC Deputy Governor Fan Yifei said at the institution's inauguration event that clearing institutions should continue to deepen supply-side structural reform and promote the development of the clearing market.

* The China Securities Regulatory Commission approved Bank of Jiangsu Co. Ltd., China CITIC Bank Corp. Ltd. and Bank of Communications Co. Ltd. to issue convertible debt of 60 billion yuan, 40 billion yuan and 20 billion yuan, respectively, International Financial News reported.

* The volume of nonperforming loans at Bank of Ningxia Co. Ltd. doubled as of September-end, compared to the end of 2017, while its NPL ratio rose to 4.1% from 2.2% over the same period, www.cls.cn reported. Since July, Macrolink Holding Co. Ltd., the lender's second-largest shareholder, has planned to sell the 13.53% stake it holds in the bank, but there has not been a buyer yet.

JAPAN AND KOREA

* An increasing number of Japanese Internet companies are exiting from cryptocurrency mining, Tokyo's The Nikkei reported. GMO Internet Inc. and DMM.com LLC are planning to withdraw from the cryptomining business.

* NH Investment & Securities Co. Ltd. will invest 30.4 billion won, or 390 billion Indonesian rupiah, in its PT NH Korindo Securities Indonesia unit by acquiring new shares, The Chosun Ilbo reported.

* Woori Bank shareholders on Dec. 28 approved the establishment of a holding company for Woori Bank and other units, the Maeil Business Newspaper reported. The holding company will begin operations Jan. 11, and trading in holding company shares will begin Feb. 13.

ASEAN

* Thailand's National Economic and Social Development Board has been reformed and renamed National Economic and Social Development Council, effective Dec. 29, the country's Daily News reported.

* Indonesia's PT Bank BRIsyariah Tbk announced a new management lineup after a shareholder meeting on Dec. 28, Bisnis Indonesia reported.

* The Securities and Exchange Commission of the Philippines postponed the issuance of final rules on initial coin offerings after stakeholders asked for more time to study the proposal, The Philippine Star reported. The SEC was set to issue the rules before the end of 2018.

* Land Bank of the Philippines extended the offer period for its proposed acquisition of Philippine Dealing System Holdings Corp. shares to Jan. 31, 2019, from Dec. 31 as there was "no response so far" from the latter's shareholders, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported, citing a text message from bank President Alex Buenaventura. The bank previously revised its offer price for a 67.67% controlling stake in Philippine Dealing System Holdings to 215 pesos per share from 360 pesos per share.

SOUTH ASIA

* The Reserve Bank of India rejected government calls to relax risk weights and capital requirement rules for Indian banks, Mint reported, citing a report from the central bank. The bank will instead look into exposure and investment guidelines, and the current risk management framework.

* Indian private lender ICICI Bank Ltd. raised 11.40 billion rupees through the issuance of Basel III-compliant Additional Tier 1 bonds via a private placement, the Press Trust of India reported. The bonds have an annual coupon rate of 9.90% and the issue date is Dec. 28.

* India's Mahindra & Mahindra Financial Services Ltd. will issue up to 100 billion rupees of nonconvertible debentures in one or more tranches, the Press Trust of India reported. The first tranche will consist of 5 billion rupees of debentures, with an oversubscription option of up to 30 billion rupees. The debentures will qualify as Tier 2 capital.

AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND

* The Australian Securities and Investments Commission will launch a probe into how employers select superannuation funds to manage their employees' savings after an inquiry into the financial industry showed how fund managers had failed to act in the best interests of clients, The Australian reported.

* Australian banks have ramped up spending on advertising in the 10 months to October as they try to regain consumer trust following a series of scandals highlighted by the royal commission, The Australian reported, citing data from the Standard Media Index. Banks spent A$299.2 million in the first 10 months of 2018, up by A$45.6 million compared to the year-ago period.

Hoi Shan Chan, Sally Wang, Jonathan Cheah, Jaekwon Lim and Santibhap Ussavasodhi contributed to this report.

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