This weekly article offers aselection of our top banking stories published throughout the week.
Woori Bank's sale saga
TheSouth Korean government seems determined in its bid to privatize Woori Bank despite its previous four failed attempts tofind a buyer for its majority stake in the lender.
Thegovernment aims to start a sale process for its 51.06% stake in Woori Bank bythe end of the third quarter, based on promising indications from potential buyers, according to a member ofthe government committee tasked with selling the lender. The government has said itwill try to sell its holding to multiple institutional investors, if it cannotfind a single buyer of the entire asset.
YouJong-il, a member of the Public Fund Oversight Committee, said the governmenthas received strong interest from multiple institutions, both domestic andforeign, for the Woori Bank stake. You declined to identify possible biddersbut denied a recent media report that said Anbang Insurance Group Co. has shown interest inacquiring a stake in the lender. The Chinese firm unsuccessfully sought toacquire a 30% stake in Woori Bank in the most recent government auction in 2014.
Dealmaking remained slow
M&Aactivity involving Asia-Pacific lenders remained slow overall, with Taipei,Taiwan-based Bank SinoPac Co.Ltd.'s agreement to sell its U.S.-based unit, , garnering someheadlines from major media outlets.
Underthe proposed deal, Los Angeles-based Cathay General Bancorp agreed for US$340 million.The aggregateconsideration mix paid to Bank SinoPac will be at least 90% cash, with Cathayhaving the option to pay up to 10% in Cathay common stock.
Backin Asia-Pacific, Bank ofTokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ Ltd. agreed to sell its 55% stake in PT BTMU-BRI Finance toPT Bank Rakyat Indonesia(Persero) Tbk. In another deal involving a Japanese firm,ORIX Corp. ofBoston Financial Investment Management LP through its unit ORIX USA Corp.
Meanwhile,India's IDFC BankLtd. agreed toacquire Grama Vidiyal Micro Finance Ltd. for an undisclosed sum. Theacquisition will help deepen IDFC Bank's reach and expand the deliverymechanism for banking services.
Inaddition, South Korea's DGBFinancial Group Co. LTD. is looking to acquire a small local asset manager as partof efforts to evolve into a complex financial company by strengthening itsnonbanking businesses.
Regulatory, legal developments
*The Bank of Korea kept its base rate unchanged at 1.25%, while Bank NegaraMalaysia cut itspolicy rate by 25 basis points to reduce the overnight policy rate to 3%. Theceiling and floor rates of the corridor for the overnight policy rate werereduced by Malaysia's central bank to 3.25% and 2.75%, respectively.
*The Reserve Bank of India lifted a restriction placed on further purchases ofPunjab NationalBank's shares by foreign investors.Separately, the RBI established a regulatory working group to study issuesrelating to fintech and digital banking in the country.
*The Reserve Bank of New Zealand may adopt a single national loan-to-value ratio forinvestors given the growing housing market pressures across the country, saidRBNZ Deputy Governor Grant Spencer. The measure could be introduced by the endof 2016, he added. New Zealand is also planning totighten rules forbusinesses seeking to be included in the country's Financial Services ProvidersRegister.
*Bank of East AsiaLtd. is being investigated by the China Anti-Money LaunderingMonitoring & Analysis Center after Chinese media leaked bank transactionsthat allegedly revealed how the bank was used as a channel to disburse money tosenior executives at EvergrowingBank Co. Ltd.
*The Monetary Authority of Singapore reportedly started an investigation of some accounts ofUBS Group AG afterthe bank reported suspicious transactions related to 1Malaysia DevelopmentBhd., or 1MDB.
*Hanspeter Brunner, BSISA's former CEO for Asia, is suing the company for allegedly holding his bonus.Brunner claimed in hiscomplaint that there was no legal basis for the firm to suspend the payment fordeferred bonuses due in June, according to a July 4 court filing.
In other news
*Singapore ExchangeLtd. resumed normal operations July 15 after halting tradingof securities the previous day due to a technical issue.
* is aiming corporate bankingrevenue in Asia by targeting "emerging market champions" in theregion, which include internet firms, Gerald Keefe, Citi's corporate bankinghead for Asia-Pacific, said.
* Anestimated 1 million bankers in India are set to observe a one-day strike July 29 to protestgovernment reform policies. The association had previously a nationwide strike July 12-13but the High Court of Delhi has ordered Indian public sector bank employees to halt theplanned two-day strike.
*Bank ofTokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ will quitits role as a primary dealer of Japanese government bonds July 15.The Japanese bank will withdraw as one of the 22 primary dealers of governmentbonds. It will become the first local bank to opt out of the role.
*Werner Steinmueller isset to become CEO ofAsia-Pacific at Deutsche BankAG.
* ismerging five of itssuper funds to streamline the structure of its superannuation business. Thecombined fund will be known as MLC Super Fund and will be Australia's largestretail super fund. It will have about A$70 billion in funds under management.
* branches in 2016 as partof efforts to scale down its physical presence amid the rising popularity ofdigital banking.
*Taiwan's lost about NT$70million after hackers infiltrated its ATMs and withdrew the cash.
* approval from the Philippines'Securities and Exchange Commission to merge its three units: BDO Capital andInvestment Corp., BDO Elite Savings Bank Inc. and Banco De Oro Savings Bank Inc.
* willbring its digitalbanking mobile app to Indonesia by the end of 2016, with plans to roll out theapp in other parts of Asia afterward.
Also featured on S&PGlobal Market Intelligence
Woori Bankhopes to boost branch foot traffic with cafe, donut shop