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Fairfax India to buy Catholic Syrian Bank stake; AMP life unit sale at risk

GREATER CHINA

* China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said the country's mobile payment transactions surpassed 81 trillion yuan as of October 2017, the highest in the world, Xinhua News Agency reported. China's mobile payment transactions recorded 29.5 trillion yuan in the third quarter of 2017, up 28% from the previous quarter.

* The Philippine central bank approved Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd.'s application to open a branch in Manila, BusinessWorld reported, citing "a source familiar with the matter."

* China's holdings of U.S. bonds, bills and notes increased by US$126.50 billion in December 2017, compared with previous-year figures, to a total of US$1.18 trillion, Bloomberg News reported. This was the biggest increase in China's U.S. Treasurys holdings since 2010.

* The China Insurance Regulatory Commission tightened guidelines for public insurance adjusters including requiring the formation of partnerships or corporations and a minimum number of adjusters among others, Xinhua News Agency reported, citing a statement from the regulator. The new rules will be implemented from May 1.

JAPAN AND KOREA

* Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe nominated Haruhiko Kuroda for a second term as the governor of Bank of Japan in a highly anticipated move, multiple media outlets reported.

* The proportion of outstanding bank loans carrying interest rates of less than 1% reached 62% at the end of 2017, highlighting interest margins narrowing in the negative interest rate environment, Tokyo's The Nikkei reported.

* Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp. will open its first domestic branch in three years in March, The Nikkei reported. The new branch in Tokyo will offer only personal wealth management services by appointment.

* Export-Import Bank of Korea issued CHF350 million of five-year bonds Feb. 12, the second such bond issuance in a year, The Financial News reported. The bank had previously raised CHF250 million from a bond issue in June 2017.

ASEAN

* TMB Analytics expects the Bank of Thailand to gradually increase the policy interest rate in 2018, citing an upward trend among global policy rates and the continuous expansion of the Thai economy, the country's Krungthep Turakij reported.

* PT Bank Pembangunan Daerah Jawa Barat dan Banten Tbk reported a year-over-year net profit increase of 1.5% to 1.6 trillion Indonesian rupiah, Bisnis Indonesia reported.

* Union Bank of the Philippines and Visa Inc. are partnering with four rural banks to collaborate on a blockchain platform based on Visa's B2B Connect system, Philippine News Agency reported.

* The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas shuttered Rural Bank of Loreto (Surigao del Norte) Inc., a four-branch bank based in the Philippine island of Mindanao, placing it under the receivership of Philippine Deposit Insurance Corp., The Philippine Star reported. This is the first such decision by the central bank in 2018.

SOUTH ASIA

* Fairfax India Holdings Corp. said it would acquire a 51% stake in India-based Catholic Syrian Bank Ltd. at 140 rupees per share. The proposed deal is subject to board, shareholder and relevant regulatory approvals.

* PNB Housing Finance Ltd. is collaborating with World Bank Group unit International Finance Corp. to raise US$800 million for green and affordable housing in India, Mint reported, citing "a person with knowledge of the matter." Both companies will put up US$400 million each by raising the funds through masala bonds.

* India-based City Union Bank Ltd. said "cybercriminals" had hacked into its system and moved nearly US$2 million through three unauthorized remittances to offshore lenders via the SWIFT financial platform, Reuters reported. N.V. Narayanan Kamakodi, CEO of the lender, said it is investigating the theft and claimed the act was a conspiracy involving multiple countries.

* The Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan allowed Islamic Finance Department to adopt three more international standards for Shariah-compliant investments for effective regulation and governance of the country's Islamic financial sector, Dawn reported.

AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND

* The potential sale of AMP Ltd.'s A$2.25 billion life insurance unit is at risk of collapsing, with U.S.-based American International Group Inc.'s interest in acquiring the business reportedly waning. Meanwhile, China Life Insurance Co. Ltd.'s interest in the unit is unclear, with speculations that the Chinese insurer could either acquire AMP's life operations or collaborate via a reinsurance arrangement, The Australian Financial Review's Street Talk blog reported.

* Nimble Money, an online provider of short-term loans, is seeking buyers to sell its business, The Australian Financial Review's Street Talk blog reported. Baillieu Holst was hired to find a potential buyer and is marketing the loan provider to financial services industry players and private equity firms.

* Commonwealth Bank of Australia noted growing momentum among state governments promoting the use of tap-and-go card payments for public transport, The Sydney Morning Herald reported. The increased use of digital payments is likely to trigger shifts in consumer behavior and drive more consumers away from cash and credit cards if they tend to pay via smartphones or wearable devices.

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

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