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China Minsheng Banking shareholder boosts stake; India's LIC gets new chairman

* Top Federal Reserve officials announced that they raised the target range of the U.S. central bank's key interest rate by 25 basis points after their final monetary policy meeting of 2016. The monetary policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee voted unanimously to lift the target range for the federal funds rate to between 50 basis points and 75 basis points.

* Chinese billionaire Shi Yuzhu has increased his shareholding in China Minsheng Banking Corp. Ltd. ahead of a revamp of the bank's board of directors, Bloomberg News reported. A Hong Kong stock exchange filing showed that Shi boosted his stake in the bank to 9.59% from 1.02% in early December.

* The Bank of England said it does not expect any regulatory obstacles to British Indians and nonresident Indians in the U.K. depositing and exchanging banned 500-rupee and 1,000-rupee banknotes at Indian banks in U.K., Press Trust of India reported, citing the central bank's governor, Mark Carney.

* Standard Chartered Plc opened its first Asia-Pacific digital flagship branch in Taipei, The China Post reported. The bank said it plans to invest US$1.5 billion in Taiwan over three years to develop its global digital banking services by applying financial technology to better serve its customers.

GREATER CHINA

* According to the People's Bank of China, the country's new yuan bank loans in November rose to 794.6 billion yuan from 651.3 billion yuan in October, the South China Morning Post reported. Medium- and long-term household loans for the period rose to 569.2 billion yuan from October's 489.1 billion yuan.

* The China Insurance Regulatory Commission set up a department to specially supervise related transactions in the insurance sector, Caixin reported. The regulator will also step up supervision over the structure of insurers' stock rights.

* Industry insiders estimated that Taiwan's financial institutions will spend more than NT$10 billion upgrading their hardware and software in 2017 as advances in fintech become increasingly important, Commercial Times reported. Mega International Commercial Bank Co. Ltd. is said to spend NT$3 billion purchasing computer system equipment in 2017.

JAPAN AND KOREA

* Tokyo Century Corp. will issue its first Indonesian rupiah-denominated corporate bonds through its local subsidiary, Tokyo's The Nikkei reported. The size of the issuance will be ¥1.6 billion.

* Nippon Life Insurance Co. invested ¥10 billion in bonds issued by African Development Bank, The Nikkei reported. Its subsidiary Mitsui Life Insurance Co. Ltd. also invested ¥4 billion in green bonds issued by the development bank.

* South Korea's Financial Services Commission officially approved a plan to establish the country's first online-only bank, K-Bank, Yonhap News Agency reported. K-Bank plans to start operations in late January 2017 or early February 2017.

* South Korea's Financial Supervisory Service said it took corrective measures against 156 of the country's financial institutions after closely reviewing 170 contracts which were deemed to have been issued by these companies to their customers in an unfair way, The Financial News reported.

ASEAN

* Bangkok Bank PCL was sued by Fox Networks Group Asia over its failure to honor its guarantee for a defunct Thai pay-TV operator's licensing payments, the South China Morning Post reported.

* The Thai Cabinet approved draft amendments to the Thai life and nonlife insurance acts in order to support electronic insurance transactions and prevent fraudulent activities, Thailand's Post Today reported.

* The Malaysian life insurance industry saw 18.3% growth in new business weighted premium in the first three quarters of 2016, reaching 3.68 billion ringgit, The Sun reported.

* PT Bank Permata Tbk appointed Ridha D.M. Wirakusumah as president director and Loh Tee Boon as risk director, the Jakarta Globe reported, citing a statement.

* PT Bank CIMB Niaga Tbk will develop a new mobile banking app in 2017 as mobile banking has shown an annual growth of 35%, Infobank reported, citing the lender's consumer banking director, Lani Darmawan.

* PT Bank Rakyat Indonesia (Persero) Tbk is in talks with a mid-sized bank as it is seeking a partner to launch a cobranded product for its electronic money brand Brizzi, The Jakarta Post reported, citing the bank's consumer banking director, Sis Apik Wijayanto.

* Moody's downgraded the baseline credit assessments and adjusted baseline credit assessments of Singapore's DBS Bank Ltd., Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp. Ltd. and United Overseas Bank Ltd. to "a1" from "aa3" due to the banks' weakening asset quality and profitability.

SOUTH ASIA

* According to India Ratings and Research, Indian small finance banks may need up to 600 billion rupees of nonequity funding by 2020, assuming 25% growth in both steady state loans and off-balance sheet loans, India's Mint reported.

* The Indian government said it appointed V.K. Sharma as chairman of Life Insurance Corp. of India, with a five-year term, the Press Trust of India reported, citing an official statement. Sharma has been serving as the company's managing director since November 2013.

* Sundaram Finance Ltd. revised its interest rates on deposits, effective Dec. 16, The Hindu Business Line reported. The revised interest rate for 12- and 18-month deposits will be 7% per year, and 7.25% annually for 24- and 36-month deposits, effective Dec. 16.

* Bank Alkhair B.S.C. (c) sold its stake in Pakistan's Al Baraka Bank (Pakistan) Ltd., CPI Financial reported, citing CEO Ayman Sejiny.

AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND

* The Australian Securities and Investments Commission will release its regulatory "sandbox" policy for financial technology firms, which will allow startups to test their products and services for a limited time without an Australian financial services license, The Australian reported.

* Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. and Macquarie Group Ltd. unit Macquarie Bank were ordered by the federal court to pay a combined A$15 million after they admitted to instances of attempted cartel conduct, The Australian reported.

* National Australia Bank Ltd. has created an "application programming interface developer portal," which will enable external technology developers to link with data on the bank's branch and ATM locations, as well as foreign exchange rates, The Australian Financial Review reported. This will allow the data to be used to create more engaging websites or apps.

IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD

Middle East & Africa: Bleak outlook for Mozambique; Qatari fund eyes $10B investment in US

Europe: Italian banking sector outlook revised; Old Mutual unit prices share sale

Latin America: Brazil Senate OKs spending cap; Banco Interfinanzas sale approved

North America: Out today: the FOMC announcement and possibly news of Blankfein's new No. 2s

North America Insurance: Anthem/Cigna antitrust trial phase 1 ends; Life Partners exits bankruptcy

Sally Wang, Sarun Saelee, Cathy Hwang, Emi White and Aditya Suharmoko contributed to this report.

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