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BoE rate cut backed; HSBC kicks off French unit sale; Wirecard chair resigns


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BoE rate cut backed; HSBC kicks off French unit sale; Wirecard chair resigns

* The European Securities and Markets Authority has warned about investing in funds that may not be able to meet refund promises, noting that funds of funds and real estate funds have the highest percentage of retail investors, Reuters reported.

* The launch of £1 billion British business fund has been delayed due to a number of factors including U.S. President Donald Trump's trade war, Brexit and concerns related to China-based Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd., The Sunday Times reported. The fund is a planned collaboration between HSBC Holdings PLC and Chinese sovereign wealth fund China Investment Corp.


* Bank of England monetary policy committee member Gertjan Vlieghe said he will vote in favor of a rate cut later this month if the economy does not pick up, the Financial Times reported. Policy maker Silvana Tenreyro has also said that she may support an interest rate cut in the coming months, Bloomberg News reported separately.

* U.K. companies were fined about £300 million for breaching anti-money laundering rules in 2019, with Standard Chartered PLC getting the largest of the penalties of £102 million from the U.K. Financial Conduct Authority, The Times reported, citing a report by consultancy firm Encompass. British regulators imposed 12 money laundering fines in total in 2019.

* HSBC has sent an overview of its French retail business to potential buyers, marking the start of the sale process for the unit, insiders told Bloomberg News. The possible buyers reportedly include La Banque Postale SA, Crédit Agricole SA, Milleis Banque, BNP Paribas SA, and Banque Fédérative du Crédit Mutuel SA.

* London Stock Exchange Group PLC is set to file its $27 billion acquisition of data and trading group Refinitiv with EU antitrust authorities within weeks, after prolonged talks with the regulator about the scope of its review of the deal, insiders told the FT. Both sides are reportedly still working on what could constitute the market against which the merger can be assessed.

* Peer To Peer Finance Association, a self-regulatory trade body of U.K. peer to peer lenders, has closed, and the members of the association will join a new unit of the trade group for financial technology industry Innovate Finance, The Times reported. The move is claimed to reflect the "declining relevance" of the sector.


* Wulf Matthias resigned as Wirecard AG's chairman, months after the German payment processing company said it would conduct an independent review of its accounting practices. Matthias will be replaced by Thomas Eichelmann in the role, but will remain a member of the company's board until his office term in 2021. Eichelmann joined Wirecard's board in mid-2019 and is the head of its audit committee.

* Aon has taken over Locarno-based insurance company Assimedia, making it the largest insurance broker in Italian-speaking Switzerland, reported. Aon has more than 350 employees in Switzerland already and is pursuing a strategy of acquisition-based expansion. Aon's staff in Lugano are set to move to Locarno, one of Assimedia's three locations.


* Dutch lender Triodos Bank NV will shut down its real estate investment fund, Het Financieele Dagblad reported. The country's first sustainable real estate fund was not able to secure growth in able to survive.


* Unicaja Banco SA will limit the powers of executive Chairman Manuel Azuaga, with CEO Ángel Rodríguez reporting to the board of the directors instead of Azuaga following recommendations from the ECB, El Economista reported.

* Banco Santander SA is looking for a new head of corporate and investment banking in Spain after the resignation of Gabriel Alonso, who has been with the entity for 23 years, Expansión reported. He has agreed to remain at the bank until a replacement has been found.


* Massimo Tononi, former chairman of Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena SpA and of Cassa depositi e prestiti SpA, is in pole position to become the new head of Banco BPM SpA, Milano Finanza wrote.

* Mercury — the investment vehicle of private equity firms Clessidra, Bain Capital and Advent — sold a 7.77% stake in Italian payments firm Nexi SpA at €11.6 per share for a total of €560 million, most dailies including MF wrote. The sale could be seen as a first step toward a merger with digital payments company Sia, in a move that would dilute the private equity groups to minority status leaving control to the Cassa Depositi e Prestiti, Il Sole 24 Ore reported.

* A €310 million injection by Italy's depositor protection fund safeguarded Banca Popolare di Bari SCpA and the lender is now drafting a new industrial plan that would cover seven years, Antonio Blandini, one of the two special commissioners of the lender told Il Messaggero. He added that the timing of the transformation into a joint stock company does not depend just on the lender but also on different regulators including the EU's Directorate General for Competition.

* Intesa Sanpaolo SpA aims to reach €50 billion in assets under management in China in the medium term, Chairman Gian Maria Gros-Pietro told Il Sole 24 Ore.


* Danske Bank A/S has not yet reached the peak level of investment to meet anti-money laundering requirements, although compliance costs are rising, Danske Sweden CEO Johanna Norberg told Bloomberg News.

* DBRS Morningstar confirmed its ratings on Lithuania and changed the trends on all ratings to positive. DBRS said the positive trends were based on the Lithuanian economy's continued improvement in its economic resilience.

* Nordea Norway has started blocking the accounts of customers who have not identified themselves at a branch, E24 reported. Nordea is one of several banks in Norway that require customers to identify themselves with passports at a branch, in order to stay in line with both money laundering regulations and BankID requirements.

* Swedbank asset management firm Swedbank Robur has adopted a new climate strategy, and has updated its policy for responsible investments, Realtid reported.


* PAO Credit Bank of Moscow signed an agreement with China-based large regional banks for a syndicated loan of up to 2 billion Chinese yuan. Harbin Bank acted as agency bank, while Huishang Bank acted as leading bank in the deal.

* PJSC Moscovskiy Oblastnoi Bank offloaded over 140 billion rubles worth of assets from its balance sheet, mostly overdue corporate loans, thanks to which the share of overdue loans in its corporate portfolio dropped from 52% to 28%, Kommersant reported.

* Poland-based Getin Noble Bank SA launched a new financial recovery plan, which was recently approved by the Polish Financial Supervision Authority, Parkiet wrote. Actions to be taken under the plan are aimed at rebuilding Getin Noble's financial efficiency, fostering organic development, helping regain profitability and achieving required capital adequacy ratios by the end of 2024.

* The Slovenian central bank asked the country's Constitutional Court to rule whether a recently passed law obliging the central bank to cover losses to investors caused by the 2013 overhaul of Slovenian lenders is in line with the constitution, Reuters wrote. The central bank believes that the law breaks EU rules on monetary financing and that it is not the task of the central bank to save commercial lenders.


Asia-Pacific: Yes Bank OKs 100B-rupee issue; China Everbright Bank's new consumer finance unit

Middle East & Africa: Lebanese central bank seeks more powers; Tunisian parliament rejects government


Insurers, reinsurers were choosy about their partners at Jan. 1, says Aon: On the property side, reinsurers targeted certain programs more than others, while insurers chose their reinsurers more carefully at the key renewals date, according to Aon's report.

Travelex showdown highlights growing 'professionalization' of cyber gangs: Foreign exchange service Travelex is still being held to ransom by a hacking gang called "Sodinokibi," in an attack that industry insiders say is highly unusual in both its sophistication and ambition.

Sheryl Obejera, Daniel Stephens, Meike Wijers, Esben Svendsen, Beata Fojcik, Yael Schrage, Brian McCulloch, Sophie Davies, and Helen Popper contributed to this report.

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