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Anbang mulls divesting health insurer; Westpac's Ascalon Capital sale marches on

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Anbang mulls divesting health insurer; Westpac's Ascalon Capital sale marches on

GREATER CHINA

* China's Anbang Insurance Group Co. Ltd. is in talks with financial advisers about a possible sale of its Hexie Health Insurance Co. Ltd. unit, amid reports that it is looking to off-load some assets after being taken over by the Chinese government in February, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg News. The health insurer could attract Chinese insurers and private equity funds, according to one of the sources.

* Ant Financial Services Group, an affiliate of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., has joined the US$120 million Series D financing round of Chinese financial technology startup Snowball Finance Ltd., DealStreetAsia reported, citing a statement from the startup. The new capital will be allocated to product development, trading system improvement and talent expansion, according to Fang Sanwen, founder and CEO of Snowball Finance.

* China-based Xiamen Rural Commercial Bank Co. Ltd. is currently involved in 1,304 lawsuits, among which nearly 300 lawsuits were related to disputes on credit card loans, Changjiang Times reported. The balance of the lender's personal credit card overdraft surged to 7 billion yuan at the end of 2017 from 2.46 billion yuan at the end of 2014, with the nonperforming loan ratio standing at 2.5% in 2017.

* China-headquartered Bank of Hangzhou Co. Ltd. said it will announce a share price stabilization proposal by July 26 after its closing prices in the past 20 trading days fell below its audited net assets per share of 7.94 yuan in the previous year, Shanghai Securities News reported.

* The China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission approved the appointment of Ding Jianping as chairman of China United Insurance Holding Co. Ltd., National Business Daily reported. Ding was once chairman of the board of supervisors.

JAPAN AND KOREA

* Korea Exchange Inc. will step up efforts to prevent improper short selling in South Korea, including looking into irregular transactions and creating a system named K-ITAS, or KRX-Insider Trading Alarm Service, in the second half of 2018, Yonhap News Agency reported, citing CEO Jung Ji-won. The move comes on the heels of an inspection of Goldman Sachs Group Inc.'s Seoul branch after its failure to settle short selling transactions.

* South Korea's Financial Supervisory Service will publish a list of financial companies that have not yet complied with consumer protection guidelines, the Korea JoongAng Daily reported, citing unidentified officials. Financial firms that have received warnings for selling allegedly deceptive or abusive products will be included in the list.

* Meanwhile, South Korea's Financial Services Commission is considering allowing merchants to decline credit card payments in favor of other cashless payment options as part of efforts to ease the cost of burden on small businesses, The Hankyoreh reported.

* South Korea-based Woori Bank will contribute 12 billion won to Korea Credit Guarantee Fund as a basis for a 900 billion won corporate lending program, The Chosun Ilbo reported.

* South Korean crowdfunding platform operator Wadiz Corp. signed an agreement with Japan-based Makuake Inc. to support startups moving into each other's country, the Electronic Times reported.

ASEAN

* The Central Bank of Myanmar is seeking to boost its oversight on overseas lenders' acquisition of 35% of domestic banks, Asian Banking & Finance reported, citing Eleven Myanmar, which in turn cited Aung Naing Oo, director-general of the country's Directorate of Investment and Company Administration. Local laws allow foreign players to purchase up to a 35% stake in local companies.

* Singapore-based DBS Bank Ltd. said it will pursue its own digital initiatives to improve online and mobile banking services, adding that it does not feel the need to obtain a license to launch virtual banking platforms, the South China Morning Post reported, citing Ajay Mathur, head of consumer banking and wealth management at DBS Bank (Hong Kong) Ltd.

* The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas is currently studying the launch of central bank-issued digital currencies, or CBDCs, and its impact on the supply of credit and the financial system, The Philippine Star reported, citing Governor Nestor Espenilla Jr. The central bank is also teaming up with other regulators on a harmonized oversight on initial coin offerings and virtual currency trading activities.

* The Financial Services Authority will establish a fintech center in Jakarta in August to help boost the development of digital business in Indonesia, The Jakarta Post reported, citing Triyono, head of digital finance innovation and microfinance development.

SOUTH ASIA

* India-based IDBI Bank Ltd.'s board is set to meet to approve allotment of preference shares to Life Insurance Corp. of India, allowing the insurer to raise its stake in the lender to 51%, Press Trust of India reported, citing unnamed sources. This comes after LIC's board approved plans to boost its stake in IDBI Bank.

* India's Punjab National Bank hired merchant bankers to divest a controlling stake in PNB Housing Finance Ltd., Press Trust of India reported, citing Sunil Mehta, managing director and CEO of the lender. The bank, which holds a 32.79% stake in the housing finance arm, is expected to close the transaction in the next few months.

* India-headquartered Infosys Ltd. has hit a roadblock in its plan to hire 10,000 staff in the U.S. over the next few years as it faces a lawsuit from Michigan-based Indiana Hotel Equities LLC, Mint reported. Indiana Hotel Equities alleged that Infosys, its former CEO Vishal Sikka, the Indianapolis Airport Authority and other local government officials wrongfully removed the hotel operator as a tenant in order for Infosys to secure space to build its work center.

* The Indian government will likely inject about 80 billion rupees into five or six state-run lenders ? including fraud-hit Punjab National Bank ? that could not meet regulatory capital requirements, The Economic Times reported, citing an unidentified senior finance ministry official. The source said the government could not allow such banks to default on interest payments, which would affect their ratings.

AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND

* Westpac Banking Corp. is said to have signed a term sheet to sell its Ascalon Capital Managers Ltd. business to Generation Development Group Ltd., covering each of Ascalon's boutiques except Sydney-based hedge fund manager Regal Funds Management, The Australian Financial Review's Street Talk blog reported. The report said the two parties have not signed a binding deal, and that the term sheet outlines the targeted deal structure and terms.

* Australia-based Clime Investment Management Ltd. closed the acquisition of a 100% stake in CBG Asset Management Ltd. on July 14 after settling the deferred consideration for the transaction. In addition, Clime Investment Management issued 375,001 shares at a deemed issue price of 50 cents apiece.

* National Australia Bank Ltd. named Geoff Lloyd CEO of MLC Wealth Management Ltd., effective Sept. 1. The move comes after the bank unveiled its plans to exit its advice, platform and superannuation and asset management businesses, which are operating under MLC and other brands.

IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD

Middle East & Africa: Qatar Islamic Bank's H1 profit rises; Moody's revises Qatar outlook to stable

Europe: French banks win case against ECB; Slovenia eyes NLB IPO; Natixis gets new CFO

Latin America: Cielo CEO leaving; Banorte-Interacciones merger completed

North America: BofA Q2 profit rises on loan growth, lower expenses; BlackRock revenue rose 11%

Global Insurance: $275M NFIP cat bond launches; Aviva '17 UK claims; CBL probe update

Janna Estares, R Sio, Sally Wang, Jonathan Cheah, Jaekwon Lim and Santibhap Ussavasodhi contributed to this report.

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