* The ECB "overbought" Italian, French and Spanish sovereign bonds by as much as €64 billion during its stimulus program, Reuters calculated using central bank data. This means the countries may need to find new buyers for the debt as the ECB realigns its holdings.
* UBS Group AG Chairman Axel Weber, in an interview with Tages-Anzeiger, called on European lenders to get bigger in order to compete with U.S. counterparts, but said his own bank has no plans to merge with a rival. Josef Ackermann, a former Deutsche Bank AG CEO and currently chairman of Bank of Cyprus Holdings Public Ltd. Co., also called for a strong banking sector in the EU. He wrote in the Financial Times that the industry must be strengthened if the bloc wants to remain competitive globally.
UK AND IRELAND
* Colette Bowe, the chairman of the U.K.'s Banking Standards Board, and Jayne-Anne Gadhia, former CEO of Virgin Money, were named external members of the Bank of England's Financial Policy Committee.
* U.K. supermarket giant J Sainsbury PLC is seeking a replacement for the CEO of unit Sainsbury's Bank PLC, Peter Griffiths, who plans to retire in 2020, Sky News reported. A spokesperson for Sainsbury's confirmed that the group is in early stages of succession planning for Griffiths.
* Paul Stephany, a former fund manager at London-based Newton Investment Management Ltd., who was fired in August 2017 for gross misconduct after he discussed public share sales with peers at rival companies, has lost an unfair dismissal case against the company, Financial News reported.
GERMANY, SWITZERLAND AND AUSTRIA
* The U.S. Department of Justice said former bankers of Switzerland-based Credit Suisse Group AG Surjan Singh, Andrew Pearse and Detelina Subeva were arrested yesterday in London on charges relating to a $2 billion fraud scheme involving loans to state-owned firms in Mozambique, The Wall Street Journal reported. The Financial Times also covered.
* Peter Axman, global head of real estate at Germany's HSH Nordbank AG, told Börsen-Zeitung that the bank will resume its international real estate financing business under new owners Cerberus Capital Management LP and J.C. Flowers & Co. and will enter new deals worth a total of €500 million in the Benelux region, France and Austria this year. It will operate under its new name Hamburg Commercial Bank.
* UBS Group AG banker Annie Wang has resigned from the Swiss lender after U.S. regulators fined her husband, Peter Cho, over allegations that he traded using information he obtained by eavesdropping on Wang's calls, an insider told Bloomberg News.
* Carsten Jung, previously deputy chairman of Berliner Volksbank eG, as of Jan. 1 took over as chairman of the executive board, according to Börsen-Zeitung.
SPAIN AND PORTUGAL
* The former president of Spain's Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA, Francisco González, has acquired 1 million shares in the bank for around €4.63 million, following his departure as president of the entity, reported Efe, which cited sources at the bank. They will be added to the 5.46 million BBVA shares that González already owns.
ITALY AND GREECE
* The Italian Treasury's bad bank is in discussions to buy roughly €3.7 billion of bad loans from struggling lender Banca Carige SpA, to help clear the bank's balance sheet and make a potential merger more appealing, Reuters wrote, citing Il Messaggero. Carige is also exploring how it could use a €320 million convertible bond to raise capital and avoid using taxpayers' funds, Reuters reported, citing Fabio Innocenzi, one of its special administrators and its former CEO. Meanwhile, Carige's largest shareholder, the Malacalza family, may approve the bank's recapitalization if Carige's board provided all shareholders with details of the lender's turnaround plan, the Financial Times wrote.
* Investor concerns that Carige may eventually need support from the Italian government were the main trigger in the worst sell-off of Italian government bonds in three months yesterday, Reuters reported.
* Nordic insurers are counting the cost of Storm Alfrida, which battered the coasts of Denmark and southern Sweden on New Year's Day and Jan. 2. Tryg A/S received some 500 individual claim notices for damage connected to Alfrida from customers in Denmark, Berlingske Tidende reported.
* A new insurance law entered into force in Russia, which will increase minimum capital requirements for existing insurance companies from 2020, Banki.ru reported. New insurers will be subject to the new capital rules from July 31, 2019.
* Turkey's central bank yesterday said it will hold its annual general meeting Jan. 18, three months earlier than its usual AGM in April, Reuters reported. The move is said to be aimed at transferring funds to the Turkish treasury ahead of local elections in March.
* Polish prosecutors are questioning central bank Governor Adam Glapiński over a bribery scandal that led to the arrest of the former head of Poland's Financial Supervisory Commission, Bloomberg News reported. Meanwhile Rzeczpospolita reported that Poland's Supreme Audit Office is launching an inspection at the central bank. The office said that it will be a routine inspection, but the newspaper suggested that it could be linked to media reports regarding the high earnings of close associates of Glapiński.
* Bank Millennium SA, the Polish subsidiary of Portugal-based Millennium BCP, secured the approval of the Polish Office of Competition and Consumer Protection for the acquisition of Euro Bank SA from France's Société Générale SA, Rzeczpospolita reported. The 1.83 billion Polish zloty transaction was announced in November 2018 and is expected to close in the second quarter of 2019, the newspaper noted.
* Hungary's commercial banks started testing a domestic instant-payment system, which is expected to be fully operational from July 1, Reuters reported, citing the clearing house operator GIRO. Under the new system, local bank transfers amounting up to 10 million Hungarian forints will be settled within five seconds, seven days a week, according to GIRO.
IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD
Asia-Pacific: Goldman Sachs veteran to head SoftBank investment unit; AMMB sells NPLs
Middle East & Africa: Leumi mulls listing US banking unit; KCB to double home loans by 2020-end
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
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Ben Meggeson, Arno Maierbrugger, Danielle Rossingh, Gerard O'Dwyer, Beata Fojcik, Heather O'Brian, Brian McCulloch, Sophie Davies and Mariana Aldano contributed to this report.
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