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Themost-read financial stories in S&P Global Market Intelligence'sAsia-Pacific coverage include MetLife's plan to cut staff in Japan, whileeditors' picks feature how Ping An Insurance (Group)'s diversified portfolio helpsit withstand challenges in China's insurance industry.


1. MetLife's Japanese unit to reduce staff after revenuedecline

MetLifeInc.'s Japanese unit is looking to reduce its headcount by offeringvoluntary retirement packages to around 4,800 nonsales personnel as part ofefforts to streamline its business. Hundreds of employees are expected toaccept the voluntary retirement package, which includes two years of monthlypay.

2. 3Indian public sector banks approve acquisition by State Bank of India

StateBank of Bikaner & Jaipur, State Bank of Mysore and have approvedthe scheme of acquisition by State Bank of India. The boards of the three publicsector banks approved the scheme of acquisition without making any amendments.

3. INGGroep reduces stake in Kotak Mahindra Bank

INGGroep NV sold shares it holds in Kotak Mahindra Bank Ltd. to reduce its stake in theIndian lender to 3.9% from 6.4%. The Dutch financial group said it sold 46.7million shares in Kotak Mahindra Bank at 782.32 rupees per share, bringinggross proceeds from the sale to about €490 million.

4. SouthKorean government set to close sale of Woori Bank stake by Nov. 28

The South Korean government is seeking to close thesale of a 30% stake in WooriBank by Nov. 28. The bidders included ,Korea Investment Holdings Co.Ltd. unit KoreaInvestment & Securities Co. Ltd. and unitMirae Asset Global InvestmentsCo. Ltd.

5. Report: AXA, Allianz reach 2nd round of bidding for StanChartbancassurance deal

AXA and Allianz SE reportedly moved to the second round ofbidding for a bancassurance deal with StandardChartered Plc that would grant exclusive access to the U.K.-basedbanking group's branches in Asia.


1. DataDispatch Asia-Pacific: Diversification helps Ping An endure tough times for Chineseinsurers

A diversified business portfolio is proving a boon toPing An Insurance (Group) Co. ofChina Ltd. as an industry slump hits Chinese insurers. In additionto insurance, Ping An has a range of online operations offering services fromfinance to healthcare, as well as a banking unit.

2. Online insurer Lifenet faces difficult market as Japanese stillprefer traditional sales channels

LifenetInsurance Co. Ltd., the biggest purely online life insurancecompany in Japan, has seen its growth slow as competition in the sector heatsup and Japanese consumers continue to prefer face-to-face sales when it comes tolife insurance products. Lifenet saw steady growth from its launch in 2008until the fiscal year ended March 31, 2012, but its new business in terms ofpolicies signed and value of annualized base premiums has been shrinking forthe past four fiscal years.

3. Bankof Japan's policy tweak to offer limited comfort to lenders

The Bankof Japan's latest decision not to deepen negative interest rateshas given a short respite to the country's lenders, which had feared anotherrate cut amid already razor thin interest margins, though their businessenvironment remains as difficult as it had been.

4. Yuaninclusion in SDR basket unlikely to boost Chinese bond market activity

The yuan will officially join other major globalcurrencies in the IMF's Special Drawing Rights basket Oct. 1, but foreigninvestors are unlikely to rush to hold more yuan-denominated assets. TheChinese currency will become the fifth currency in the SDR basket, alongsidethe U.S. dollar, the euro, the Japanese yen and the British pound. This is thefirst time a new currency has been added to the currency basket since theintroduction of the euro in 1999.