* Bank of China Ltd. entered into an agreement to buy China Construction Bank Corp.'s 27 rural banks for 1.61 billion yuan, Caixin reported. The acquisition brings Bank of China's rural banks to 122, the highest in the country.
* China-based financial services provider Fanhua Inc. denied a short seller's report alleging that the company engaged in fraudulent activities, including transferring cash to insiders through related-party transactions. Fanhua said the report was false and groundless and accused its author of lacking knowledge about the firm's core business.
* China's Financial Stability and Development Commission is calling for the urgent cleanup of inadequately capitalized internet-based lending platforms to avoid a massive sell-off of listed company shares as the government continues its clampdown on lending-based risks in the country's financial system, the South China Morning Post (Hong Kong) reported, citing Xinhua News Agency.
* Daniel Tsai stepped down as vice chairman of Taiwan-based Fubon Financial Holding Co. Ltd. after the company was given two months to more effectively separate its financial business from affiliated industrial operations to improve corporate governance, the Taipei Times reported. Tsai, however, will retain his seat on the company's board, according to a bourse filing.
JAPAN AND KOREA
* Mitsuyoshi Okano plans to step down as chairman and director of Japan-based Suruga Bank Ltd. by the end of September, Tokyo's The Nikkei reported. Okano decided to resign after taking responsibility for inappropriate lending practices at the bank.
* SoftBank Vision Fund, the venture capital arm of Japan's SoftBank Group Corp., is set to invest US$100 million in the technology business of China-based ZhongAn Online P & C Insurance Co. Ltd., the Financial Times reported. The fund will hold a majority stake in the business, the publication said.
* Japan-headquartered Aozora Bank Ltd. will replace their ATMs with Japan Post Bank Co. Ltd.'s by mid-November, The Nikkei reported. Japan Post has the widest ATM network with roughly 29,000 machines nationwide.
* South Korean commercial banks and public financial firms are looking to hire about 2,700 entry-level staff in the second half, the Korea JoongAng Daily reported. KB Kookmin Bank, Shinhan Bank Co. Ltd., Woori Bank and KEB Hana Bank are recruiting about 2,000 workers, while public firms such as the Financial Supervisory Service are hiring 680.
* The State Bank of Vietnam requested credit institutions and local branches of overseas banks to limit ATM cash withdrawals at night to minimize potential risks for banks and clients, Viet Nam News reported, citing a written request issued in the week of Aug. 20. The firms were told to consider lowering caps on ATM withdrawals from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. local time.
* Manila-based Robinsons Bank Corp. is awaiting approval from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas to commence its merchant acquiring business, which will process credit and debit card transactions on behalf of a merchant, BusinessWorld reported, citing Elfren Antonio Sarte, president and CEO of the company. The lender expects to receive the central bank's approval within August.
* Thai authorities are looking to gradually increase the ceiling of free fund transfers via PromptPay to 2 million baht per transaction from 5,000 baht to facilitate the settlement of stock trades and promote electronic payments, Daily News reported, citing Finance Minister Apisak Tantivorawong. The ceiling for PromptPay-based free money transfers will initially be increased to 700,000 baht in the next few months, Apisak said.
* Mohd Muazzam Mohamed, interim CEO of Bank Islam Malaysia Bhd., said the lender is allocating 300 million ringgit in investments over three years to boost its digital capabilities and infrastructure, Berita Harian reported.
* Chinese investment bank CLSA Ltd. will set foot in Pakistan with an investment in Alfalah Securities (Pvt.) Ltd., Pakistan Today's Profit magazine reported, citing a stock market notification. Bank Alfalah Ltd., the securities firm's parent, will not take part in the unit's rights issue.
* Bangladesh's Anti-Corruption Commission will file a case against three officials of state-run Janata Bank Ltd. for misappropriating about 23.5 million taka by distributing loans in the names of fictitious persons, the Dhaka Tribune reported, citing an official release. The three officials are Golam Azam, Meer Jalaluddin and Nazrul Islam.
* State Bank of India changed the names and Indian Financial System Code of 1,295 branches following the completion of its merger with six associate banks, Press Trust of India reported, citing a list of branches on the bank's website. The lenders closed the merger April 1, 2017.
* India's Standing Committee on Finance questioned the Reserve Bank of India on its failure to take pre-emptive action against bad loans before it undertook an asset quality review in December 2015, Press Trust of India reported, citing sources familiar with the committee's report. The report also identified the issue of relatively low credit-to-GDP ratio in India, which stood at 54.5% as of December 2017.
AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND
* The Australian Federal Police's Crime Operations unit called on the country's four major banks to help with a probe into a budget leak to The Australian Financial Review in 2017 about the bank levy, the publication reported. The leak, which is also subject to an investigation by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, had revealed that the tax would raise A$6 billion over four years.
* New York-based asset manager Neuberger Berman BD LLC is looking to raise up to A$500 million for a new trust, named NB Global Corporate Income Trust, to be listed on the Australian Securities Exchange, The Australian reported. The broker firm offer will close at the end of August while the general offer will close Sept. 7.
* Mark Searles, who intends to step down as CEO and managing director of Australia-based insurance broker AUB Group Ltd., said the company had not been compelled to appear and provide information to the royal commission into the financial services sector, The Australian Financial Review reported. Searles added that the group's commission-based pay model for insurance brokers "has been well tested and is working well."
IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD
Middle East & Africa: Finserve plans expansion; Iran impeaches finance minister; S&P downgrades Zambia
Europe: Deutsche Bank mulls 1,000 job cuts; potential UniCredit/SocGen tie-up
Latin America: Mexican economy shrinks in Q2; Peru's Banco Financiero changes name
North America: Loan growth at regional banks stalling; trades on off-exchange platforms rising
Global Insurance: Berkshire India investment; Chinese insurers profit up; Cigna-Express deal OK'd
R Sio, Sally Wang, Sarun Saelee, Cathy Hwang, Emi White and Aditya Suharmoko contributed to this report.
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