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New Brexit deal up for vote; US targets Evrofinance; Denmark zeroes in on banks

UK AND IRELAND

* British Prime Minister Theresa May secured from the European Union "legally binding" changes to her Brexit deal on the eve of a series of crucial parliamentary votes on the U.K.'s departure from the bloc. Both parties agreed on a "joint instrument" that prohibits the EU from applying the Irish backstop indefinitely, which remains the main concern among British lawmakers.

* The U.K. Financial Conduct Authority is preparing to set up a "war room" staffed with advisers to cope with the fallout if the U.K. leaves the EU without a Brexit agreement and British financial services firms lose automatic access to EU markets.

* The U.K.'s Financial Reporting Council will be replaced with a stronger accounting regulator, dubbed the Audit, Reporting and Governance Authority, following an independent review that revealed several weaknesses in the FRC's effectiveness.

* Lloyds Banking Group PLC, Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC and Barclays PLC unveiled plans to launch joint business banking hubs across the U.K. following criticism that their branch closures were damaging small companies.

* A top 10 investor in Standard Life Aberdeen PLC has questioned co-CEO Martin Gilbert's decision to take up an advisory role at British digital bank Revolut Ltd., which is being investigated for possible fraud, The Times reported. The shareholder is wary that Gilbert already has enough on his plate with Standard Life Aberdeen battling to improve its performance.

* Tan Siew Meng, HSBC Holdings PLC's head of global private banking for Asia-Pacific, said the British lender is building an ultrahigh-net-worth team in the region for clients with assets of roughly $30 million or more, according to Bloomberg News. Hiring for the new team, will be part of HSBC's plans to add 700 private banking jobs in the region by 2022.

* British insurance and travel specialist Saga PLC is working on a potential sale of two of its leisure businesses, which could collectively fetch about £100 million, Sky News reported, citing sources.

* U.K. asset management firm Man Group PLC is targeting 25% female representation in its senior management roles by December next year.

* Willis Towers Watson PLC filed a shelf registration related to the sale of certain securities, either separately or in units with other securities, from time to time.

* Bank of Ireland Group plc is looking to sell up to €800 million in nonperforming loans throughout 2019.

* U.K.-based Adler Insurance Group will acquire the general insurance assets of fellow broker Corrigans for an undisclosed sum, subject to regulatory approval, Insurance Age reported.

GERMANY, SWITZERLAND AND AUSTRIA

* German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz confirmed that the country's two highest profile lenders Deutsche Bank AG and Commerzbank AG are evaluating a potential tie-up, Reuters reported. However, insiders told the newswire that two of Deutsche Bank's top shareholders are wary about the possible combination, arguing it will not guarantee higher returns.

* Meanwhile, European banking regulators fear that Deutsche Bank is not "ruthless" enough to complete a successful merger with Commerzbank, according to the Financial Times.

* The New York attorney general's office issued subpoenas to Deutsche Bank and U.S.-based Investors Bank for records related to the financing of Trump Organization projects and a failed effort to acquire the Buffalo Bills football team, The New York Times reported. While the inquiry is a civil rather than criminal investigation, its focus and scope remain unclear.

* Deutsche Börse AG, Swisscom AG and Swiss and Singapore-based technology company Sygnum are partnering to build and grow what they describe as a "trusted and regulatory compliant" financial market infrastructure for digital assets.

* Storm depression Eberhard, which hit large areas of Germany on Sunday, caused insured damages of up to €800 million, Handelsblatt wrote, citing a report by industry service provider Aon.

* Swiss financial regulator FINMA said it is contact with UBS Group AG regarding a loan to Papua New Guinea in 2014 that resulted in a review of whether the Pacific Island nation breached its own borrowing rules, Reuters reported.

* Switzerland-based Chubb Ltd. is understood to be the lead underwriter on the account for the Ethiopian Airlines jet that crashed March 10, while Willis Towers Watson acted as the insurance broker, Reuters reported.

FRANCE AND BENELUX

* Early investors in Dutch payments platform Adyen are expected to sell a second tranche of shares today with a total value of €1.5 billion, sources told De Telegraaf. JPMorgan and Morgan Stanley are reportedly involved in the sale of some 8% of Adyen's total outstanding shares.

* Dutch financial markets regulator AFM gave Chicago-based exchange giant Cboe Global Markets Inc. permission to move to Amsterdam and operate as a "multi-lateral trading facility" beginning in April, Het Financieele Dagblad reported.

* SwissLife France is embarking on a new three-year plan, under which it is targeting revenues from fees and commissions of between €85 and €95 million and new business sales volumes of more than €400 million by 2021, L’Agefi wrote.

SPAIN AND PORTUGAL

* S&P Global Ratings said it expects a second wave of mergers among mid-sized Spanish banks, which would help dilute the effects of fixed costs, facilitate investments in digitalization and improve banks' access to the markets, Europa Press noted.

ITALY AND GREECE

* Italy saw its total nonperforming loans decline by 32.5% in January, compared to a year earlier, as the country's banks continued to offload debt and shore up their balance sheets, the Financial Times wrote, citing central bank data.

* Banca IFIS SpA named Luciano Colombini its new CEO, following news that long-time CEO Giovanni Bossi would no longer be confirmed in the post sent its stock down 11.6% in Milan stock market trade yesterday, MF reported.

* U.S. private equity firm Advent International Corp. dropped plans to acquire Italian credit data provider Cerved Group SpA.

* Plans for Italian digital payment systems group SIA SpA to merge with peer Nexi SpA have fallen through given opposition from SIA management and shareholder banks, according to Il Sole 24 Ore.

NORDIC COUNTRIES

* Dutch stock exchange operator Euronext NV extended the acceptance period of its offer to acquire Oslo Børs VPS Holding ASA, while keeping the terms of the bid unchanged. However, both Oslo Børs and its shareholder DNB ASA reportedly said they will continue to back Nasdaq Inc.'s takeover offer for the Norwegian company.

* Meanwhile, lawyers for Oslo Børs floated the idea of regulators lifting the purchase threshold to two-thirds of the firm's shares, a move that could knock Euronext out of the race to acquire the Norwegian company, Bloomberg reported, citing documents.

* Denmark intends to allow its Financial Supervisory Authority to implement penalties on banks found guilty of money laundering without going through the courts to accelerate the punishment process, Bloomberg wrote.

* Swedish Finance Minister Magdalena Andersson told Bloomberg that the country's government is studying a proposal to impose a tax levy on the local financial sector that singles out banks with far more precision, following the much-publicized money-laundering scandal in the Nordic regions.

* Storebrand ASA is on course to expand its fund management business outside of Norway, e24.no reported. The group plans to initially target growth in Europe by attracting investors to its customized sustainable investment funds.

* Danish insurer LB Forsikring A/S will roll out a new IT-based strategy in May to expand its customer base, FinansWatch noted.

EASTERN EUROPE

* The U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control placed Moscow-based JSCB Evrofinance-Mosnarbank Bank JSC, which is jointly owned by Russian and Venezuelan state-owned companies, to its sanction list for attempting to evade U.S. restrictions on Venezuela. The regulator said the Russian lender had assisted and provided support for Venezuelan oil company Petróleos de Venezuela, which has been subject to corruption and money laundering charges.

* The Russian central bank allowed PJSC Sovcombank and PAO Credit Bank of Moscow to participate in an auction to purchase a 99.9% stake in PJSC Asian-Pacific Bank, Vedomosti reported. The starting price for the stake is set at 9.8 billion Russian rubles.

* A Moscow court issued an arrest warrant for Otkritie Financial Corp. Bank's former CEO Evgeny Dankevich charged with the embezzlement of 34 billion Russian rubles from the lender, news agency Prime reported, noting that Dankevich is currently hiding in Israel.

* Russian non-state pension funds NPF Safmar and NPF Doverie, controlled by PJSC Safmar Financial Investments, completed their merger, creating an entity holding pension savings and reserves worth 287.8 billion rubles, news agency Prime noted.

* Estonian authorities are becoming increasingly concerned that two of the Nordic market's biggest players, Danske Bank A/S and Swedbank AB (publ), might shutter operations and leave the country, Dagens Industri wrote.

* The ECB will take over the direct supervision of Latvia-based AS PNB Banka as of April, following a request by the country's financial regulator, after the lender accused Latvian central bank Governor Ilmārs Rimšēvičs of money laundering, Reuters reported.

* The interim administrator of Montenegro-based Atlas banka AD Podgorica launched a public call for its €22 million recapitalization, inviting investors that are not existing shareholders of the bank to subscribe for new shares, SEENews reported. The bank, whose existing shareholders failed to provide the required capital boost, plans to issue 88,710 shares with a par value of €248 apiece, and investors will have 20 days to subscribe for the shares.

IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD

Asia-Pacific: Citi to open Singapore currency trading hub; ORIX mulls overseas asset arm sale

Middle East & Africa: Regulator clears 2 Saudi banks' merger; Absa, Old Mutual post higher results

Latin America: US sues top Venezuelan official; Peru's PM quits; Banco Macro's Q4 profit up 67%

North America: JPMorgan combines 2 teams; Citi setting up Singapore forex platform

Global Insurance: Genworth layoffs; Argo-shareholder tussle; plane crash payout

NOW FEATURED ON S&P GLOBAL MARKET INTELLIGENCE

UK watchdog prepares 'war room' over Brexit weekend in the event of no deal: The Financial Conduct Authority outlined plans to keep regulatory systems working if Britain crashes out of European Union without a withdrawal agreement, vowing to maintain close contact with financial firms and other regulators.

UK-based OakNorth looking to team up with US banks, CFO says: U.K.-based lender OakNorth plans to partner with U.S. banks and help them grow their online loans to small and medium-sized enterprises.

AI 'all pervasive' in finance, could become $7.3B opportunity, says VC boss: The AI for fintech industry could grow to $7.3 billion by 2022 from $959 million globally, as companies exploit opportunities in credit scoring, debt collection and quantitative asset management, according to venture capitalist Barry Downes.

Deza Mones, Ed Meza, Danielle Rossingh, Gerard O'Dwyer, Beata Fojcik, Heather O'Brian, Stephanie Salti, PraxillaTrabattoni and Mariana Aldano contributed to this report.

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This S&P Global Market Intelligence news article may contain information about credit ratings issued by S&P Global Ratings. Descriptions in this news article were not prepared by S&P Global Ratings.