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Zurich, Bank of China form bancassurance partnership; Fiji maintains policy rate


Banking Essentials Newsletter: 23rd August edition


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Zurich, Bank of China form bancassurance partnership; Fiji maintains policy rate

* Zurich Insurance Group Ltd. unit Zurich Topas Life forged a bancassurance partnership with Bank of China Ltd. as it looks to target expatriates in Indonesia, The Jakarta Post reported.

* The Reserve Bank of Fiji decided to maintain the overnight policy rate at 0.5% to encourage investment and further strengthen growth in the economy.

* Thailand's deputy prime minister, Somkid Jatusripitak, said he expects negotiations for the proposed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership to conclude faster given the U.S. exit from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the Bangkok Post reported. He said the U.S. withdrawal was good for the RCEP as it was viewed as an alternative multilateral trade pact in the absence of the TPP.


* China's central bank said there were 8,673 small-loan companies as of the end of 2016 and their loan balance for the year came to 927.3 billion yuan, marking a 13.1 billion yuan decline from the year prior, Caijing reported.

* China Merchants Bank Co. Ltd. will tighten eligibility rules for Chinese customers to open accounts at Hong Kong branches from Feb. 1 as a part of efforts to curb capital outflow, The Business Times reported.

* The People's Bank of China directed banks to control new loans, particularly mortgages, in the first quarter to counter excessive leverage in the financial system, Bloomberg News reported, citing "people familiar with the matter." The central bank may also make errant lenders pay more for deposit insurance, one of the sources added.


* Daiwa Securities Group Inc.'s deputy president, Seiji Nakata, will become the company's new CEO on April 1, replacing the company's current chief, Takashi Hibino, The Nikkei reported.

* Major Japanese nonlife insurers are expanding cyber-related policies with broader coverage and higher payout limits, The Nikkei reported. While cyber insurance policies have largely involved equipment such as computers and servers, insurers now look to cover devices including factory control systems and surveillance cameras.

* Woori Bank said that nothing has been decided regarding its speculated reorganization into a holding company, Yonhap News Agency reported.

* South Korean life insurance companies are curtailing dividends to beef up their capital bases in anticipation of the 2021 rollout of the IFRS 17 insurance contracting accounting standard, the Maeil Business Newspaper reported.


* Bank of Thailand expects the Thai economy to grow by about 3.2% in 2017 as the export sector is performing better and the government's investment projects are supporting the economy, Thai Rath reported.

* The Office of Insurance Commission of Thailand expects total premium collection at Thai insurers to stand at about 800 billion to 900 billion baht in 2017, Daily News reported.

* PT Bank Negara Indonesia (Persero) Tbk set a credit growth target of 15% to 17% for 2017, lower than the 20.6% achieved in 2016, Bisnis Indonesia reported.

* According to BMI Research, the Philippine banking sector has strong fundamentals such as stable and low nonperforming loans, sufficient capital adequacy buffers and a healthy liquidity profile, Asian Banking & Finance reported. It added that the country's banking sector's loan-to-deposit ratio is also among the lowest in Asia.


* The Reserve Bank of India will likely scrap weekly withdrawal limits from banks and ATMs as the cash crunch situation is easing, Press Trust of India reported, citing bank officials. R. K. Gupta, executive director at Bank of Maharashtra, expects the limits to be lifted by the end of February or the first half of March.

* Vinod Rai, chairman of India's Bank Board Bureau, assured bankers that action will not be taken against anyone without merit in cases of loan defaults, The Economic Times reported. Rai's comments followed the arrest of bank officials at IDBI Bank Ltd. in regard to loans to Kingfisher Airlines.

* According to ICRA, microfinance institutions may post a substantial decline in profit in the fiscal year ended March 31, 2018, as demonetization has taken a toll on recoveries, Business Standard reported. The rating agency also said that the rise in credit and operating costs were expected to bring down ROE to below 10% for fiscal 2018 from between 13% and 15%.


* QBE Insurance Group Ltd. is drawing interest from investment banks and overseas acquirers on the back of strong recent performance, The Australian Financial Review's Street Talk reported, citing sources. The blog said that the company was on the watch list of potential offshore acquirers, but noted that a deal was not imminent.

* Australia's treasurer, Scott Morrison, endorsed "robo-advisers" offering cheap automated superannuation advice, The Australia Financial Review reported. Morrison plans to encourage more robo-adviser start-ups in Australia by granting them greater scope to test their services in the market without facing the costs of regulatory licensing.


Middle East & Africa: Fitch cuts Nigeria outlook; Mashreqbank FY'16 profit dips YOY

Europe: RBS adds £3.1B in provisions; Nordea's Q4 profit rises; Generali CFO leaves

Latin America: Banrisul could be privatized; Interacciones' Q4'16 profit rises 16.9%

North America: Chinese firm reportedly buying MoneyGram; Harvard to outsource money management

North America Insurance: Health law repeal may come as early as March; Aetna faces lawsuit

Sally Wang, Jonathan Cheah, Jaekwon Lim and Santibhap Ussavasodhi contributed to this report.

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