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Aviva, Zurich Insurance H1 profits up; RBI result down; former HSBC exec fined


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Aviva, Zurich Insurance H1 profits up; RBI result down; former HSBC exec fined

* In what is considered as the latest indication that the U.K. will exit the EU without an agreement, U.K. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said making progress toward a new deal is "very difficult" because of the bloc's uncompromising stance, Bloomberg News reported.


* U.K. insurer Aviva PLC reported consolidated IFRS profit attributable to equity holders of £1.12 billion for the first half, up from the restated £330 million a year ago, and confirmed that it is reviewing options for its Asian businesses. The company also raised the interim dividend for the period by 3% year over year to 9.50 pence per share.

* Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC would move its headquarters to London if Scotland gains independence from the rest of the U.K. RBS CEO Ross McEwan said the bank was too big for an independent Scottish economy to support and would be unable to rely on another bailout funded by taxpayers.

* Peter Braunwalder, the former CEO of HSBC Holdings PLC unit HSBC Private Bank (Suisse) SA, was fined €500,000 and given a one-year suspended jail sentence in France after he pleaded guilty to helping wealthy clients avoid taxes on assets worth at least €1.6 billion. Meanwhile, HSBC's outgoing head of U.S. operation, Patrick Burke, said the bank has no plans to end any of its U.S. businesses or to reduce its investment in the country, the Financial Times reported. His comments come as the bank abandoned its 2020 U.S. profit goal this week.

* Co-operative Bank PLC's statutory first-half pretax loss narrowed year over year to £38.5 million from £39.5 million. The bank said it now expects its net interest margin to be roughly 1.70% for the full year, down from a previous guidance of 1.75% to 1.80%, largely due to a planned debt issuance and continued pressure on mortgage margins.

* Lloyds Banking Group PLC has written down a £21 million loan to GSM London, formerly known as Greenwich School of Management, which went into administration last week in the wake of declining student numbers and heavy losses, the Financial Times reported.

* Several executives of Hargreaves Lansdown PLC, like CEO Chris Hill, CFO Philip Johnson, Chief Investment Officer Lee Gardhouse and Research Director Mark Dampier, will give up their bonuses for 2019 after clients of the U.K.-based investment platform were hit by the suspension of high-profile fund manager Neil Woodford's LF Woodford Equity Income Fund.

* U.K.-based Burford Capital Ltd.'s share price tumbled yesterday after its accounting practices came under fire in a report by U.S. hedge fund Muddy Waters LLC. The report accused Burford of misleading investors with the metrics it reports and criticized the accounting it uses to value litigation cases.


* Germany-based Hannover Re's second-quarter group net income came in at €368.9 million, compared to €281.9 million a year ago.

* Zurich Insurance Group AG reported first-half after-tax net income attributable to shareholders of $2.04 billion, up 14% from $1.79 billion in the prior-year period. EPS for the period rose 18% year over year to CHF13.67.

* German financial technology company Wirecard AG further raised its 2019 EBITDA forecast to between €765 million and €815 million from a previous guidance of between €760 million and €810 million, on the back of a "continued dynamic growth" in global e-commerce, shift to digitalization in the bricks and mortar trade and an increase in customers.

* Austria's Raiffeisen Bank International AG posted second-quarter consolidated profit of €345 million, a decrease from the year-ago €357 million. The bank's first-half consolidated profit also fell year over year to €571 million from €756 million..


* KBC Group NV reported second-quarter profit attributable to equity holders of €745 million, up from €692 million a year earlier. For the first half, the Belgian lender's attributable profit declined on a yearly basis to €1.18 billion from €1.25 billion.

* Ageas SA/NV received 290,000 demands for compensation from Fortis SA shareholders, while expecting 200,000, and it is not possible to say what level of compensation will be given, CEO Bart De Smet told L’Echo. He said the company's €200 million share buyback scheme, to be implemented after looking for acquisitions in nonlife insurance in Europe and Asia, was decided because the price of acquisitions was too high.


* Spain-based Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA will sell 100% of its capital in Paraguay unit to Banco GNB Paraguay SA for about $270 million, subject to regular adjustments. The sale is expected to have a positive effect of roughly 5 basis points on BBVA's common equity Tier 1 ratio.

* Further to the purchase last Aug. 1 of over 32 million shares in Unicaja Banco SA by three investment funds under the management of Santander Asset Management, the Banco Santander SA unit raised its stake in the Andalucía entity to almost 5.01% from 3%. Santander Asset Management is now the second-largest shareholder of the bank, with a total holding of more than 80 million shares, Expansión reported.

* Portugal's Novo Banco SA sold two portfolios of real estate and nonperforming loans for a total of €257.7 million, representing a discount on the book price of 67.6%, Jornal de Negócios and Jornal Económico reported. Cerberus Capital Management paid €159 million for the portfolio of property assets, called the Sertorius Project, while the NPL portfolio, known as Project Albatroz, was sold to Waterfall Asset Management for €98.7 million.


* The Italian tax agency is seeking the names of Italian residents who held Swiss accounts with UBS Group AG between 2015 and 2016 and who failed to provide evidence that their accounts were tax compliant.

* Italian lender BPER Banca SpA reported first-half attributable profit of €100.5 million and reduced its nonperforming loans by 1.5% to €6.9 billion compared to Dec. 31, 2018.

* Italy-based Credito Valtellinese SpA intends to dispose of €800 million of bad loans by 2019-end instead of 2020.


* Finland-based Sampo Oyj could invest more across the Nordic financial sector after freeing up an estimated €1.2 billion of capital following the reduction of its stake in Nordea Bank Abp, Reuters reported, citing Sampo CEO Kari Stadigh. Sampo, a leading shareholder in Nordea, wants the Helsinki-based bank to refocus efforts to achieve stronger profitability by implementing a more ambitious cost-savings program, with Stadigh saying that Nordea needs to overcome operational shortcomings in order to optimize its income earning capacities, Dagens Industri reported.

* Denmark-based Saxo Bank A/S has completed the acquisition of BinckBank NV.


* The ECB plans to carry out a stress test of five Croatian lenders as part of the country's preparations to join the eurozone, Reuters reported. The test will include Zagrebacka Banka d.d., Privredna banka Zagreb, Erste & Steiermärkische Bank, OTP banka Hrvatska and Hrvatska poštanska banka, and results will be known in May 2020.

* The Belarusian central bank decided to cut its main interest rate to 9.5% from 10% from Aug. 14, noting that the intensity of inflationary processes slowed down in the second quarter. The central bank also decided to lower its overnight credit rate from 11.5% to 10.75% and the overnight deposit rate from 8.5% to 8.25%.

* U.S. fund Parus Marine submitted a binding offer to acquire Public Stock Co. Orient Express Bank's stake in International Financial Technology Group, Vedomosti reported. The fund offered to pay $41.2 million for the stake and gave Orient Express time until Aug. 14 to decide on whether to accept the offer.

* JSC Alfa-Bank agreed to sell a 40% stake in crowdfunding platform Potok to a group of investors from FinTech Capital, RBC reported. The parties hope to complete the transaction by August-end.

* Banks operating in the Czech Republic posted an aggregated first-half net profit of more than 44.4 billion Czech koruny, over 1 billion koruny up year over year, E15 reported.

* New anti-money laundering rules in the Czech Republic, which transpose the relevant EU directive into Czech law, are stricter than the EU requirements and will negatively affect local cryptocurrency companies, Hospodarske Noviny said, citing the Czech Fintech Association.


Asia-Pacific: AMP revives life insurer sale; rate cuts across APAC; Pakistan halts India trade

Middle East & Africa: Bank ABC sees Q2 profit dip; Investec's asset management spinoff set for Q1'20

Latin America: SoftBank buys Banco Inter stake; Banco do Brasil, Banco Pan's share offerings

North America: Apple/Goldman credit card launches; Happy State Bank to buy in-state peer

Global Insurance: 3 insurers exposed to Capital One breach; Greenlight's future; European earnings


Commerzbank CFO affirms 2019 goals despite tougher markets; shares drop: The German lender is on track to meet its cost target and should grow underlying revenues and net interest income in 2019 despite the more challenging environment, CFO Stephan Engels said.

ABN Amro hikes Q2 provisions for anti-money laundering program, may face fines: The Dutch bank increased provisions for a client due diligence program after receiving a regulatory request to review its retail clients in the Netherlands, CEO Kees van Dijkhuizen said.

L&G execs see no asset restraints on pension risk transfer deals: CFO Jeff Davies said the life insurer is 'definitely open for business' for bulk annuities in the second half of 2019, having written £6.3 billion in the U.K. in the first half.

Ageas could beat '19 profit guidance, will keep M&A discipline, CEO says: Ageas could beat its guidance of 2019 net profit of €800 million to €900 million, CEO Bart De Smet said.

Sheryl Obejera, Ed Meza, Danielle Rossingh, Gerard O'Dwyer, Beata Fojcik, Yael Schrage, Brian McCulloch, Praxilla Trabattoni, and Helen Popper contributed to this report.

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