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US official says heist state-backed; China Construction 2016 profit up 1.45%

* Lamont Siller, legal attache at the U.S. embassy in the Philippines, said the US$81 million cybertheft from Bangladesh Bank's account at the New York Federal Reserve in 2016 was "state-sponsored," Reuters reported. Siller did not elaborate, but his comments in a speech during a cybersecurity forum in Manila signaled that U.S. authorities are close to naming who carried out the heist.

* Axis Bank Ltd. entered into a partnership with Wells Fargo & Co. to offer real-time remittances from U.S.-based Indians to their relatives in India, The Economic Times reported. Under the partnership, a member of the Indian diaspora with a Wells Fargo account would be able to transfer money with no transaction fees to a beneficiary in India with an Axis Bank account.

* China Construction Bank Corp. reported a 1.45% net profit increase for full-year 2016, as the group's net profit attributable to equity shareholders rose to 231.46 billion yuan, or 92 fen per share, from 228.15 billion yuan, or 91 fen per share, for the prior year.

* China Pacific Insurance (Group) Co. Ltd. posted a 32% drop in net profit for the year ended Dec. 31, 2016. Consolidated net profit attributable to equity holders decreased to 12.06 billion yuan, or 1.33 yuan per share, from 17.73 billion yuan, or 1.96 yuan per share, a year ago.

* Haitong Securities Co. Ltd. saw a 49.22% decline in its full-year 2016 profit, as profit attributable to owners of the company fell to 8.04 billion yuan, or 70 fen per share, from 15.84 billion yuan, or 1.48 yuan per share, in the previous year.

GREATER CHINA

* A 10-billion-yuan investment fund targeting nonperforming assets has been set up in Beijing, Reuters reported. The fund would invest at least 70% of the capital in banks' nonperforming assets, local financing platforms' debts and state-owned enterprises' debts.

* Moody's Investors Service warned that the financial risks facing China from a potential property downturn have grown as record lending has made banks more risk-prone while the government is less able to combat the risks, Reuters reported. China extended a record 12.65 trillion yuan of loans in 2016 to support economic growth, half of which was household loans — mostly mortgages.

* Agricultural Bank of China Ltd. plans to settle 120 billion yuan in nonperforming loans in 2017 and has signed deals with eight companies for debt-to-equity swaps, Reuters reported. The bank is also in talks over more than 20 debt-to-equity deals.

JAPAN AND KOREA

* Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp. and Hitachi Ltd. will start rolling out a smart card-based pension payment system in Vietnam in collaboration with VNPost from April, Tokyo's The Nikkei reported.

* Japanese creditor banks of Toshiba Corp. are downgrading Toshiba loans, The Nikkei reported. Sumitomo Mitsui Banking and Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank Ltd. downgraded Toshiba's debt category from normal to cautionary in March.

* TONGYANG Life Insurance Co. Ltd. incurred a loss of 317.6 billion South Korean won over fraudulent loans collateralized with imported meat at the end of 2016, The Chosun Ilbo reported, citing data from the Financial Supervisory Service. The company will still pay a dividend of 13.6 billion won to Anbang Life Insurance Co. Ltd.

* Woori Bank offered a letter of credit worth 85 billion South Korean won to some Chinese banks, including Bank of China Ltd. and Bank of Communications Co. Ltd., Yonhap News Agency reported, citing a statement from the bank.

ASEAN

* The Bank of Thailand decided to maintain its policy rate at 1.50% to keep financial conditions accommodative to the country's economic growth.

* Indonesian President Joko Widodo has nominated 14 candidates for seven Financial Services Authority commissioner positions, Bisnis Indonesia reported. Sigit Pramono, the former chairman of the Federation of Private Domestic Banks (Perbanas), and Bank Mandiri president commissioner Wimboh Santoso are the two names for the top post. The House of Representatives will hold confirmation hearings and decide on the seven commissioners by June 6.

* PT Bank Permata Tbk has appointed Sebastian Ramon Arcuri as President Commissioner and made changes to the Board of Commissioners and Board of Directors, Kompas reported.

* East West Banking Corp. is strengthening its management team in case its president and CEO Antonio Moncupa is chosen to succeed the outgoing Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Amando Tetangco, The Philippine Star reported, citing Moncupa.

SOUTH ASIA

* India's Grameen Koota Financial Services Pvt. Ltd. received 2.5 billion rupees of fresh capital from Netherlands-based credit institute CreditAccess Asia N.V., which supports lenders to the underserved in Southeast Asian countries, The Economic Times reported.

* Kotak Mahindra Bank Ltd. launched a paperless account opening system called "8-11," Business Standard reported, citing Uday Kotak, the bank's executive vice chairman and managing director. The bank also expects to double its customer base to 16 million within the next 18 months following the launch of the system, The Hindu Business Line reported separately.

* Bangladesh Bank instructed four state-owned commercial banks — Sonali Bank Ltd., Janata Bank Ltd., Agrani Bank Ltd. and Rupali Bank Ltd. — to exhaust all avenues to reduce classified loans and meet their capital crunch, The Financial Express reported.

AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND

* Fitch Ratings said out-of-cycle rate increases by four of Australia's largest banks were possibly based on pressure to curb "riskier forms of lending" than higher costs of wholesale funding, The Australian reported. However, the rating agency added that higher funding costs from the U.S. rate hikes had played a role.

* National Australia Bank Ltd. has commended the proposal of the country's Productivity Commission to infuse competition into the A$500 billion default superannuation market, saying the move "should help individuals become more engaged with their savings," The Australian reported, citing Andrew Hagger, the bank's wealth executive.

* S&P Global Ratings affirmed AIG Insurance New Zealand Ltd.'s standalone credit profile at "bbb+," reflecting its adequate market position and reasonably strong capital adequacy. The strengths are tempered by the company's small equity base, which leaves it vulnerable to adverse shocks.

IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD

Middle East & Africa: Citi seeks Saudi return; Barclays Zimbabwe on the block

Europe: UK triggers Brexit; global insured disaster losses up; RBS proposes settlement

Latin America: Peru braces for insurance losses; Brazil delays budget edict

North America: Wells to pay $110M to settle fake account suit; BofA fined $45M for foreclosure

North America Insurance: House GOP, White House renew ACA repeal talks; 3 states weigh Medicaid expansion

S&P Global Ratings and S&P Global Market Intelligence are owned by S&P Global Inc.

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

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