* China's financial regulators plan to set up offsite analysis and liaison system for the country's property insurance company, Shanghai Securities News reported. Regulators will collect management and risk information from market entities through the system.
* Taiwan's Financial Supervisory Commission said total bank branches in the island dropped to 3,403 as of the end of 2018, down 14 units from the end of the previous year, the lowest in almost seven years, the Central News Agency reported. Among them, Citibank NA closed six branches and Standard Chartered Bank (Taiwan) Ltd. closed five branches.
* Taiwan's cabinet approved draft amendments that would make it easier for overseas investments to enter the island, the Taipei Times reported. The amendments would relax rules on ordinary mergers and startups, and would only require advance approvals for more complex mergers.
JAPAN AND KOREA
* The Bank of Japan is considering lowering its inflation outlook for 2019 onward to reflect lower oil prices and other factors, The Nikkei reported. The policymakers are set to meet Jan. 22 to Jan. 23 to consider the matter.
* Japanese telecommunication company SoftBank Group Corp. hired Goldman Sachs Group Inc. veteran Hiroki Kimoto to lead a newly created investment unit, Bloomberg News reported, citing people familiar with the matter. Kimoto is set to join the group Jan. 4.
* The board of KakaoBank of Korea decided to retain Yoon Ho-young and Lee Yong-woo as co-CEOs for another two-year term, starting from Jan. 3, the Maeil Business Newspaper reported.
* Samsung Active Asset Management, a unit of Samsung Asset Management Co. Ltd., named its marketing executive director Yang Jeong-won as CEO, The Financial News reported.
* The Bank of Thailand asked banks to tighten lending conditions for bigger clients after it was found that lending proportion to this group of customers has been increasing while the interest rates charged by some banks remain too low, posing a potential risk to the system, Post Today reported.
* Thailand-based Siam Commercial Bank PCL decided to increase interest rates for fixed deposits by 0.25%, effective Jan. 4, Manager Daily reported. It is the first bank to do so after the central bank raised the policy interest rate by 0.25% in December 2018.
* PT Bank Rakyat Indonesia (Persero) Tbk will issue 20 trillion rupiah worth of bonds in three tranches over the next three years, Kompas reported. A portion of the proceeds will go towards the acquisition of a general insurance company expected to be carried out in 2019.
* PT Bank Rakyat Indonesia (Persero) Tbk appointed Sunarso to a newly-created vice president position, Bisnis Indonesia reported.
* Indonesia's Financial Services Authority said the merger of PT Bank Danamon Indonesia Tbk and PT Bank Nusantara Parahyangan Tbk will be completed in 2019, Bisnis Indonesia reported.
* AMMB Holdings Bhd. units AmBank (M) Bhd. and AmBank Islamic Bhd. are set to sell a total of 553.91 million ringgit of nonperforming loans to Aiqon Amanah Sdn Bhd and Aiqon Islamic Sdn Bhd, respectively.
* The Parliamentary Committee on Finance has asked the Reserve Bank of India to relax capital requirement rules for banks to promote lending activities, Reuters reported, citing a committee report. Local banks are currently required to hold a minimum capital to risk weighted asset ratio of 9%, compared with the global Basel III requirement of 8%.
* Manappuram Finance Ltd. appointed Bindhu AL as CFO, effective Jan. 3.
* India's Tata Capital Housing Finance Ltd. formed a strategic alliance with Saraswat Co-operative Bank Ltd. to provide the latter's customers access to a range of home loan products, The Hindu Business Line reported.
* Edelweiss Asset Management Ltd. won the approval to manage India's first exchange-traded fund of public sector firms' debt securities, Mint reported, citing two people aware of the matter. The company bested four other asset managers that were looking to manage the fund.
AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND
* The Australian Securities and Investments Commission is set to examine the Federal Court's decision regarding Westpac Banking Corp.'s subsidiaries, including the finding that Westpac Securities Administration Ltd. and BT Funds Management Ltd. failed to ensure that the financial services they provided were honest, efficient and fair.
* Suncorp Group Ltd. said total claim costs related to the December 2018 hailstorms across Sydney, Central Coast and South East Queensland regions could exceed the maximum first event retention within the group's reinsurance program, which limits the financial impact of this event to A$250 million pretax.
* Freedom Insurance Group Ltd. expects to report a loss of between A$9 million and A$10 million for the first half ended December 2018, Insurance Business reported. The company said the expected loss reflects lower-than-anticipated net revenue due to higher commission clawbacks and higher one-off external consultant costs.
IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD
Middle East & Africa: Saudi's NCB, Riyad Bank seek merger advisers; Britam expects lower FY'18 result
Europe: No deal for NordLB, Helaba; Ex-Deutsche Börse CEO settles; Carige administrators
Latin America: Brazilian stocks hit record high; Caixa to explore IPOs for 2 units
North America: Bakkt raises $183M; Bank Leumi USA looking to go public
Global Insurance: AmTrust's new quota share; Wells insurance settlement; Suncorp hail claims mount
Janna Estares, Sally Wang, Jonathan Cheah, Jaekwon Lim and Santibhap Ussavasodhi contributed to this report.
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