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China cuts banks' reserve ratio; 2 Indian banks to exit Sri Lanka

GREATER CHINA

* The China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission scrapped the asset requirement for small and midsize banks that are set up or strategically invested in by foreign lenders, National Business Daily reported. Rules that apply to overseas banks setting up rural commercial banking units will be applied to foreign invested banks or banks jointly set up by domestic and foreign capital.

* Ping An Bank Co. Ltd. obtained regulatory approval to set up an asset management company. The lender said it needs to obtain further approval from other relevant authorities before the unit commences operations.

* Everbright Securities Co. Ltd. said it appointed company secretary Zhu Qin vice president, head of compliance and chief risk officer of the company.

* The CBIRC has approved Wang Jiang's appointment as president of Bank of China Ltd., the lender said in a bourse release.

* The People's Bank of China further lowered the reserve requirement ratio for banks by 50 basis points, effective Jan. 6, Reuters reported. The Chinese central bank's latest move will bring the reserve requirement ratio for large banks to 12.5% and will release about 800 billion yuan of liquidity into the economy, with small and midsize banks receiving around 120 billion yuan.

* Taiwan's Financial Supervisory Commission will allow banks and brokerages to link structured notes with more targets, the Taipei Times reported, citing Huang Kuang-hsi, the authority's banking bureau deputy director-general. He added that the high net worth clients of lenders' offshore units would be allowed to buy foreign currency-denominated derivatives and structured notes linked with local shares.

* Anbang Insurance Group Co. Ltd. is selling a 35% stake in Chengdu Rural Commercial Bank Co. Ltd., Reuters reported. The insurer, controlled by the Chinese government, could fetch about 16.5 billion yuan from the sale of 3.5 billion Chengdu Rural shares. The stake sale could attract interest from Chengdu Xingcheng Investment Group Co. Ltd., a government-controlled investment vehicle, according to an earlier report by Caixin.

JAPAN AND KOREA

* The volume of e-money transactions in Japan increased 8.5% year over year to ¥494.3 billion in October, Tokyo's The Nikkei reported, citing data from the Bank of Japan.

* Korea Investment Holdings Co. Ltd. unit EQ Partners Co. Ltd. renamed itself Korea Investment Private Equity Co. Ltd., Yonhap News Agency reported.

* K Bank Co.Ltd. CEO Shim Sung-hoon will remain as CEO until March, The Korea Times reported. Shim's term as the lender's chief executive has been extended twice since September 2019.

* Korean Reinsurance Co. and some institutional investors are suing KB Securities Co. Ltd. and JB Asset Management Co. Ltd. to claim damages relating to the alleged mismanagement of JB Australia NDIS Fund due to a local borrower's breach of contract, The Korea Times reported, citing an industry source. Other investors including IBK Insurance Co., Ltd. are also preparing to file legal action against the two companies.

ASEAN

* Thai Life Insurance PCL's premium collection for the ten months ended October 2019 stood at 71.86 billion baht, up 4% year over year, Thailand's Daily News reported.

* The Indonesian government said the required increase in National Health Insurance contributions took effect Jan. 1, Bisnis Indonesia reported.

* Bank Indonesia is looking to impose fixed fees for certain e-wallet transaction at 0.7%, The Jakarta Post reported, citing five sources familiar with the situation. The central bank has also had talks with the country's largest digital payments firms to standardize fees on QR code transactions.

* The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas said a municipal court in the Philippine province of Aklan convicted Rural Bank of Sebaste (Antique) Inc. former chairman and president Eugene Estrella, former chairman and president Luis Estrella Sr. and former director Luis Estrella Jr. for falsifying public documents, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported. Eugene Estrella was also found guilty of breaching relevant banking laws by another court.

* The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas' monetary board approved revisions to rules on the disqualification of directors and officers of banks and quasi-banks, expanding grounds for penalization to strengthen the quality of governance in financial services, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported.

* The BSP's monetary board also approved rules under which universal and commercial banks, and their subsidiary thrift banks and quasi banks will be required to report intraday liquidity position, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported.

SOUTH ASIA

* Apollo Global Management Inc. and Värde Partners Inc. have shelved plans to bid for real estate-focused nonbank finance company Altico Capital India Ltd., Bloomberg News reported, citing two sources. The two firms decided not to go ahead with a bid for Altico Capital because they are not willing to meet creditor demands to invest up to 20 billion Indian rupees of fresh equity into the firm.

* Union Bank of India said it is seeking bids for a bundle of 11 nonperforming assets worth 12.81 billion rupees to asset reconstruction firms, banks and other financial firms by Jan. 13.

* Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd plans to sell mutual funds and other financial services through its payments affiliate, JioMoney, Mint reported, citing three sources. According to one of the sources, the company has been recruiting personnel for its mutual fund business.

* India-based Axis Bank Ltd. and ICICI Bank Ltd. have received nods from the Central Bank of Sri Lanka to shut down their operations in the country following requests from their parent banks, Asian News International reported, citing online news portal ColomboPage.

* The Reserve Bank of India extended the relaxation it previously provided to nonbank financial companies from the previous deadline of Dec. 30, 2019, to June 30, following a review.

* Banks in India wrote to the central bank urging it to extend the Jan. 7 deadline for inking intercreditor agreements by three months, The Economic Times reported, citing a senior banker. If the banks cross the Jan. 7 deadline, they will have to make an extra 20% provision.

AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND

* The Australian Securities and Investments Commission told Treasurer Josh Frydenberg that many among the 48 listed investment companies and listed investment trusts that it carried out a confidential analysis on had negative returns and that poor performance is common, The Australian Financial Review reported.

* The Insurance Council of Australia said insured losses from bushfires this season were near A$300 million, The Australian Financial Review reported, citing the council's spokesperson Campbell Fuller. He added that uninsured losses were expected to be significant, and that government policies in New South Wales lead to people being underinsured.

* The Australian Securities and Investments Commission received freeze orders from the country's Federal Court on assets held by EuropeFX platform operator Maxi EFX Global AU Pty. Ltd., The Sydney Morning Herald reported. The court also issued orders against an allegedly related entity, BrightAU Capital Pty. Ltd.

IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD

North America: JPMorgan seeks 100% ownership in Chinese joint venture

Global Insurance: Companies lock in reinsurance, finalize deals; 'disgrace' insurance demand rises

R Sio, Emily Lai, Jonathan Cheah, James Lim and Santibhap Ussavasodhi contributed to this report.

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