* The ECB is expected to begin discussions on how to end its quantitative easing program at its meeting today, the Financial Times wrote, noting that the regulator could pull the plug on the mass bond purchases by the end of the year. The meeting comes on the heels of U.S. Federal Reserve's increase of its benchmark interest rate by 25 basis points to a target range of 1.75% to 2%.
* Meanwhile, the ECB is looking at the trading books of Deutsche Bank AG, BNP Paribas SA and Société Générale SA as it inspects how the three banking groups use the leeway they have to price so-called Level 3 instruments, including bonds, stocks and derivatives, insiders told Bloomberg News.
UK AND IRELAND
* The British House of Commons rejected a House of Lords amendment that sought to make continued membership in the European Economic Area a negotiating objective of the government in its Brexit talks with the EU, as well as an amendment calling on the government to negotiate full access to the bloc's internal market.
* U.K. Financial Conduct Authority head Andrew Bailey told parliament that the regulator expects to close by the end of July its probe into the alleged mistreatment of small businesses by Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC's now defunct Global Restructuring Group division, Reuters reported.
* The Bank of England is considering setting targets for major U.K. banks for recovering from IT issues, cyberattacks and other disruptions to key services, Reuters reported, citing Lyndon Nelson, deputy CEO of the Prudential Regulation Authority.
* TSB Banking Group PLC's unsuccessful migration to a new IT system is expected to cost more than £1 billion, significantly higher than initial estimates, The Times of London reported. Two months after the move, some customers are still experiencing service disruptions.
* Bank of Ireland Group PLC is expected to cut 1,500 jobs as part of its new strategic plan, market sources told the Irish Independent.
* Santander UK Group Holdings PLC said the High Court of England and Wales approved its ring-fencing transfer scheme, which will take place largely in July.
* Meanwhile, Chris Sullivan, the head of Santander UK's corporate bank, is retiring and will step down in the autumn, The Times of London reported.
* Standard Chartered PLC will set up a new shared services office in Warsaw and will hire 750 people as part of the move, the Financial Times reported.
* Rathbone Brothers Plc said it will wholly acquire Scotland-based fund manager Speirs & Jeffrey Ltd., with Speirs & Jeffrey CEO Russell Crichton to become the head of Rathbone Brothers' Scottish business as part of the deal. Rathbone intends to place new ordinary shares representing approximately 5% of its existing issued ordinary share capital at a price of 2,500 pence per share to raise gross proceeds of around £60 million, part of which will be used to fund the acquisition.
GERMANY, SWITZERLAND AND AUSTRIA
* Germany's Federal High Court is expected to declare as constitutional a 2014 law stipulating that life insurers can pay out reduced amounts from their valuation reserves to policy holders, Handelsblatt wrote.
* German banks have an exposure to outstanding debts including nonperforming loans in Italy of up to €113 billion, Reuters reported.
* The Hamburg state parliament approved the planned sale of HSH Nordbank AG to Cerberus Capital Management LP and J.C. Flowers & Co., Handelsblatt wrote.
* In its screening of Raiffeisen Gruppe Switzerland, Swiss financial market supervisory authority Finma found major corporate governance failings, as well as inadequate handling of conflicts of interest and supervision of former CEO Pierin Vincenz, and determined a "serious breach of supervisory law." Finma also ordered Raiffeisen to examine the pros and cons of converting into a limited company.
* Swiss collective real estate investment platform Crowdhouse AG is looking for a strategic partner to support its expansion, Handelszeitung wrote, adding that Tamedia AG and Migros Group are among interested parties to enter a collaboration or acquire a stake in the startup.
* Christian Gellerstad, CEO of wealth management at Pictet & Cie Group SCA, will be leaving the bank by Sept. 1 as part of a management shake-up, Finews reported.
* Austria-based Oberbank AG will withdraw from Iran due to U.S. sanctions on the country, Reuters reported, citing the bank.
FRANCE AND BENELUX
* Axa and ING Groep NV entered into a bancassurance partnership, under which Axa will provide property and casualty, health and protection insurance solutions to ING customers in France, Germany, Italy, Czech Republic, Austria and Australia.
* Oney Bank, the banking subsidiary of retailer Auchan, is considering several options of strategic partnerships in order to continue to grow in Europe, according to Les Echos.
* ASR Nederland NV has earned more than €1 billion from the ASR Mortgage Fund it launched last year, achieving the target set, Het Financieele Dagblad reported.
SPAIN AND PORTUGAL
* The Spanish Ministry of Economy's Institute of Accounting and Auditing has fined PricewaterhouseCoopers and auditing partner Jose Maria Sanz Olmeda for two infringements related to the auditing of Banco Popular Español SA's accounts in 2012, Expansión wrote.
* Meanwhile, the EU's Single Resolution Board said it will publish its third and final valuation report on Banco Popular Español shortly after mid-July, Expansión reported. The regulator is looking into whether the entity's shareholders and junior creditors who lost all their investment when it was sold to Banco Santander SA would have been better off if the bank had been liquidated through ordinary procedures.
* New York-based venture capital fund Cerberus Capital Management LP is among potential buyers for Banco Caixa Geral SA, the Spanish unit of Portuguese state-run lender Caixa Geral de Depósitos SA's, Jornal de Negócios reported. The other two bidders that presented binding offers are Spanish banks Abanca Corporación Bancaria SA and Cajamar.
ITALY AND GREECE
* Italian bank Credito Valtellinese SpA transferred a portfolio of nonperforming loans with a gross book value of about €1.6 billion to securitization vehicle Aragorn.
* Italian lenders are expected to unload €70 billion of bad loans this year and have a pipeline for such disposals in the coming years, Reuters reported, citing Vito Ruscigno, co-head of non-performing loans at PricewaterhouseCoopers.
* Italian authorities searched a bank in northern Italy as part of a probe into alleged money laundering activities by the country's League party, Reuters reported.
* Greece's Parliament invoked emergency procedures to fast-track debate on a reform package needed to unlock a €12 billion final tranche of bailout funds, the Financial Times reported.
* The Icelandic central bank kept its interest rate on seven-day term deposits at 4.25%, saying a tight monetary policy is needed amid rapid demand growth and underlying pressures in the labor market.
* More than 35% of new consumer loans given in Norway are in breach of the Norwegian Financial Services Authority's rules for these types of loans, Dagens Næringsliv reported. According to a new report from the regulator, the breaches are committed deliberately.
* Sweden-based payments provider Klarna Bank AB (publ) aims to increase its staff by 50% and hire 1,000 people within the next year, Reuters reported, citing the company.
* Maria Lykken Ljungdahl is stepping down as CFO of Sweden-based Collector AB (publ) after only eight months in the position, Realtid noted. Current group controller Magnus Erkander will take over her duties until a permanent successor has been found.
* The National Bank of Georgia's monetary policy committee left its refinancing rate unchanged at 7.25% amid falling inflation and faster-than-expected economic growth.
* Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili has quit his post, citing disagreements with the leader of the country's ruling party, Reuters reported. Kvirikashvili's entire cabinet is expected to resign along with him as required by Georgia's constitution.
* PAO Sberbank of Russia First Deputy Chairman Maxim Poletayev plans to leave the lender, insiders told Reuters.
* Insurer LLC Insurance Co. Rosgosstrakh - Life will change its name to Capital Life, news agency Prime reported, citing President Evgeny Giner.
* Rosgosstrakh Insurance Co. PJSC's former owner Danil Khachaturov said he is considering suing Otkritie Financial Corp. Bank because the lender did not fulfill all conditions related to the acquisition of Rosgosstrakh, Prime also said.
* Investors holding Russian Standard Ltd.'s defaulted eurobond, secured with a 49% stake in JSC Russian Standard Bank, threatened the company with a collateral call if it does not immediately pay $544.8 million due on the bond, Reuters reported.
* The consolidation of the Polish banking sector is set to continue, and could mainly affect smaller lenders, especially those with lower profitability, Rzeczpospolita wrote. Crédit Agricole Bank Polska SA, Bank Pocztowy SA and Getin Noble Bank SA are among lenders that could be potentially put up for sale.
IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD
Asia-Pacific: Woori Bank eyes Kyobo Securities; 2 Indian banks' HK branches under scrutiny
Middle East & Africa: Saudi Arabia, Bahrain raise rates after Fed hike; Oberbank withdraws from Iran
Latin America: Brazil central bank seeks changes in Itaú-XP deal; Argentina holds key rate
North America: KeyCorp to close 40 branches in 2018; 2 Illinois banks ink $70.4M deal
North America Insurance: Berkshire exits Zurich legacy book auction; Axa, ING in partnership
NOW FEATURED ON S&P GLOBAL MARKET INTELLIGENCE
Broker: Silent cyberrisk 'a top concern' for insurers' boards: Uncertainty about whether cyber losses would be covered under traditional lines of business is creating "ambiguity for the insured, and unknown exposure for the insurer," reinsurance broker Capsicum Re said in a report.
Rule change to help German life insurers meet high guaranteed interest payments: The German government mulls a change in special reserve rules to ease the pressure on life insurers struggling to meet high guaranteed interest payments on long-term policies.
Sheryl Obejera, Arno Maierbrugger, Meike Wijers, Esben Svendsen, Beata Fojcik, Yael Schrage, Stephanie Salti, Sophie Davies, and Helen Popper contributed to this report.
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