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Nippon Life buys additional Reliance Life stake; NongHyup Financial eyes expansion

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Nippon Life buys additional Reliance Life stake; NongHyup Financial eyes expansion

* Nippon Life Insurance Co. completed its acquisition of anadditional 23% stake in Reliance LifeInsurance Co. Ltd. Nippon Life Insurance now holds a 49% stake in RelianceLife Insurance. The entire transaction amounted to 22.65 billion Indian rupees.

* lowered its stake in China's Bankof Tianjin Co. Ltd., The AustralianFinancial Review reported.ANZ now holds an 11.9% stake in Bank of Tianjin, worth around US$906 million, downfrom a 14.2% holding.

* SouthKorea's NongHyup Financial Group Inc.said it is actively eyeing global expansion, with a focus on Southeast Asia andChina, under Chairman Kim Yong-hwan, The KoreaHerald reported,citing the bank's officials. Kim said the company decided to focus on regions whereagricultural finance has more potential, the officials said.

GREATER CHINA

* China'scentral bank said the country's State Council approved the appointments of two newmembers to the central bank's monetary policy committee, including new securitiesregulator Liu Shiyu and new statistics bureau head Ning Jizhe, the Securities Daily reported.Meanwhile, Xiao Gang and Wang Baoan no longer serve as monetary policy members.

* China'sFinance Ministry said the outstanding debt limit for local governments in 2016 is17.2 trillion yuan, Shanghai Securities Newsreported.The quota includes 10.7 trillion yuan of ordinary government debt and 6.5 trillionyuan of special program debt.

* WutongshuInvestment Platform Co., a fund wholly owned by China's State Administration ofForeign Exchange, has started buying shares in China's listed banks, Sina Financereported.The platform is among the top 10 shareholders of Bank of Communications Co. Ltd. and Shanghai Pudong Development Bank Co. Ltd., as well as thelargest shareholder of Export-ImportBank of China and the third-largest shareholder of

* Taiwan'sFinancial Supervisory Commission fined TaiwanFire & Marine Insurance Co. Ltd. NT$4.8 million for irregularitiesin the company's internal control mechanisms, the Taipei Times reported.The commission also decided to suspend the insurer's sales of fire insurance tocommercial users for one month, beginning April 15.

* Taiwan'scentral bank said the U.S. replaced China as Taiwan's largest debtor, as Taiwanesebanks increased their stakes in U.S. debt in the fourth quarter of 2015 from theprevious quarter, the Taipei Times reported.The local banking industry had international claims of US$64.76 billion to the U.S.and US$49.21 billion to China as of December 2015.

JAPAN AND KOREA

* Japanesetrust banks plan to levy surcharges on the money they take from institutional investorsto compensate for the negative interest rate implemented by the Bank of Japan, The Yomiuri Shimbun reported.

* Theaverage lending rate at Japanese banks fell to a new all-time low of 0.793% in February,The Mainichi Shimbun reported, citingdata from the Bank of Japan. 

* will launcha startup funding platform, Tokyo's The Nikkeireported.The bank plans to invest in about 10 startup companies in its first year.    

* Therepeated delays in the preferred bidder forHyundai Securities Co. Ltd.raise speculation that the sale could fall apart, The Chosun Ilbo reported.

* will sharply reducethe 2,500 headcount at its head office as part of cost-cutting efforts, The Chosun Ilbo reported. 

* signeda strategic partnership agreement with Kolao Group, the biggest business group inLaos, for business cooperation in the ASEAN region, the Seoul Economic Daily reported.

ASEAN

* JapanCredit Rating Agency has kept Thailand's credit ratings unchanged, including theforeign currency senior debt rating at A- and local currency senior debt ratingat A, with a stable outlook, Thailand's DailyNews reported. However,the rating agency said there are risk factors for Thailand for remaining in themiddle-income trap while household debts are still high.

* TheBank of Thailand and the Office of the Nonformal and Informal Education signed amemorandum of understanding to educate students in the nonformal and informal educationsystem about finance, Thailand's Post Todayreported. Curriculumand textbooks about daily finance will be designed for students.

* Thailand'sMinistry of Finance said in a monthly report for February that the Thai economywas boosted by the government's spending and the tourism sector despite signs thatconsumption is slowing down, Thai Rathreported.

* PT Bank OCBCNISP Tbk plans to issue bonds to raise 8 trillion rupiah, Reuters . The bank will begin offeringthe first 2 trillion rupiah tranche of bonds by the end of April.

* EdwinBautista, president and COO of UnionBankof the Philippines, said the bank is setting aside branch expansionas it focuses on expanding its digital channels in 2016, the Philippines' BusinessWorld reported.

SOUTH ASIA

* Indianbanks are auctioning the trademarks of failed Kingfisher Airlines as it looks forways to recover dues of more than 90 billion Indian rupees, The Times of India reported.

* TheReserve Bank of India has allowed all companies engaged in the infrastructure sector,including regulated nonbanking finance companies, to raise external commercial borrowingswith a minimum maturity of five years, India's Business Standard reported,citing the central bank.

* established itsfirst digital branch in the Indian state of Meghalaya, the Press Trust of Indiareported.Chief Minister of Meghalaya Mukul Sangma inaugurated the digital branch.

AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND

* Accordingto Commonwealth Bank of Australiachief economist Michael Blythe, a currency-driven rate cut for the Reserve Bankof Australia is unlikely and the cash rate will remain at 2% in 2016, The Sydney Morning Herald reported.

* CommonwealthBank of Australia raised A$1.45 billion from its offering of PERLS VIII capitalhybrid notes, slightly higher than the initial target the bank set of around A$1.25billion, The Australian reported.

IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD

* and are among banksthat have responded to the Russian government's request for proposals for advisoryroles in the planned part privatizations of several state-owned companies, Reutersreported, citing "threebanking sources."

* 's said Paolo Zaniboniis stepping down as CEO of its London office, International Financing Review reported.

* Theboard of La Positiva Seguros y ReasegurosSA appointed Juan Manuel Peña Henderson as the company's CEO, JC Magazine reported. Peña will replace Gustavo Cerdeña Rodríguez, whohad served as the company's CEO since 2010, the report noted.

* Confirmingan earlier report, State Street Corp.said it agreed to acquireGE Asset Management Inc.from General Electric Co.Under the agreement, State Street will acquire GE Asset Management in a cash transactionwith a total purchase price of up to US$485 million, subject to adjustments.

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

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