* The European Commission adopted measures aimed at safeguarding financial stability in the EU in the event that Britain leaves the bloc without a deal in place. They include granting temporary and conditional equivalence to U.K. clearing houses and depositories for one year and two years, respectively.
* The EU has reached a preliminary agreement to improve the monitoring of money laundering at banks through the European Banking Authority, Reuters reported.
* The European Council and European Parliament reached a provisional agreement on aligning the costs of cross-border euro payments between euro and non-euro countries and boosting transparency of charges related to currency conversion services across the EU.
* The U.S. Federal Reserve raised its benchmark interest rate for the fourth time this year and signaled a less aggressive approach in 2019, with officials now penciling in two hikes next year, down from a September projection of three increases.
UK AND IRELAND
* Eleven banks, including Santander UK PLC, TSB Banking Group PLC and CYBG PLC, gained approval to participate in a £350 million scheme that will see them take customers away from Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC, according to the Financial Times. RBS is funding the scheme as part of conditions attached to its crisis-era government bailout.
* Whistleblowers made a record number of reports to the U.K. financial regulator about "nonfinancial misconduct" at regulated firms including sexual harassment and bullying in 2018, a senior executive at the FCA said.
* U.K.-based Hamilton Insurance Group and Cinven Capital Management (V) General Partner Ltd are among competitors seeking to buy U.S. insurer Liberty Mutual Holding Co. Inc.'s Lloyd's platform Pembroke Managing Agency Ltd., Insurance Insider reported.
* The European Commission approved China Reinsurance Group Corp's $950 million acquisition of specialty insurance group Chaucer from Hanover Insurance Group Inc., saying the deal would raise no competition concerns, Intelligent Insurer reported. Chaucer comprises U.K.-based Hanover Insurance International Holdings Ltd., Ireland-based Chaucer Insurance Co DAC and Australia-based Hanover Australia Holdco Pty Ltd.
* The U.S. Treasury and U.S. Trade Representative's office inked a bilateral agreement with the U.K. to maintain regulatory certainty and continuity for the insurance and reinsurance sectors after Brexit.
* Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said Ireland will get an extra €600 million from the wind-down of Anglo Irish Bank, but added that most of the €30 billion spent in the lender's bailout will never be recovered, Reuters reported.
* The U.K.'s Financial Conduct Authority fined Banco Santander SA unit Santander UK PLC £32.8 million for failing to appropriately disburse its deceased customers' money to their beneficiaries.
* The scheme of arrangement by which entities affiliated with Bain Capital Private Equity LP will acquire U.K.-based insurer Esure Group PLC became effective, marking the completion of the £1.21 billion takeover.
* Direct Line Insurance Group PLC is mulling a £400 million offer for the general insurance business of Legal & General Group PLC, insiders told Sky News.
* Prestige Insurance Holdings will acquire Northern Ireland brokerage Autoline Insurance for an undisclosed sum, according to Insurance Business UK.
GERMANY, SWITZERLAND AND AUSTRIA
* Shares in Austria's Erste Group Bank AG and Raiffeisen Bank International AG plummeted yesterday following an announcement by the Romanian government that it plans to impose new taxes on various industries, including the banking sector, as part of efforts to reduce the country's budget deficit.
* German banks are on average better capitalized and better capable of absorbing long-term credit losses than Western European peers, but they are less profitable and efficient, according to S&P Global Ratings.
* The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission will allow Deutsche Börse AG unit Eurex Clearing AG to clear interest rate swaps for U.S. asset managers, Reuters reported. This will increase its ability to compete with the likes of the London Stock Exchange.
* Prosecutors in Vienna have raised charges against Meinl Bank AG's supervisory board chairman and founder Julius Meinl for allegedly using bank funds to pay for private investigator services that were for personal purposes and in no way related to the bank's business, Die Presse reported. The authorities also brought charges against executive board member Peter Weinzierl and a third unnamed person.
* German savings banks Kreissparkasse Köln and Stadtsparkasse Bad Honnef in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia are set to merge, Börsen-Zeitung reported.
FRANCE AND BENELUX
* Amsterdam-based MUFG Securities (Europe) NV received a license from the Netherlands Authority for the Financial Markets to operate as an investment company. The license will enable the company's ultimate parent, Japan's Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc., to continue providing securities services to its clients across Europe after Brexit.
* Société Générale SA won an appeal against an employment tribunal ruling that former trader Jerome Kerviel be awarded a €455,000 redundancy payment for being sacked without proper process after a fraud scandal that the bank claims cost it €4.9 billion, Les Echos reported. La Tribune also covered.
* Société Générale also agreed to sell unit Societe Generale Serbia to OTP Bank Nyrt. for an undisclosed sum.
* Seven former directors and managers of Fortis, charged with fraud and forgery after the collapse of the bank, will not face trial after prosecutors decided there was not enough evidence, L'Echo reported.
* Natixis will acquire fellow French bank La Banque Postale SA's 50% stake in gift voucher firm Titres Cadeaux for an undisclosed sum.
* More than 70 Dutch pension funds have signed up to a sustainable investing agreement based on United Nations and OECD guidelines, Het Financieele Dagblad reported.
SPAIN AND PORTUGAL
* A new independent body to protect Spain's bank customers would have the power to impose sanctions on banks, El País reported.
* Spain's Banco Santander SA will pay a third interim dividend on 2018 profit of 6.5 euro cents per share. The overall amount distributed per share in 2018 will amount to 23 cents, up 4.5% on the amount disbursed on 2017 results, Expansión reports.
* Santander has purchased the remaining stake in Brazilian IT company Getnet that it did not already own for €323 million, Europa Press reported.
* Spanish banking group Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA said it has launched a strategic review of alternatives for its Chilean automobile financing business Forum Servicios Financieros SA, noting that the alternatives could lead to a partial or total sale of the company.
ITALY AND GREECE
* Italy reached an agreement with the European Commission regarding the country's 2019 budget, leading to a rally in financial markets, Reuters reported.
* Italian banking group UniCredit SpA said unit UniCredit Leasing SpA agreed to sell a portfolio of Italian leasing unsecured nonperforming loans with a gross claim value of roughly €170 million to Guber Banca SpA.
* The Danish government's rescue packages for struggling banks during the financial crisis have been good business for the government, Berlingske Business reported. Although billions of kroner has been lost, even more has been repaid, and the government is likely to make a profit of 17 billion Danish kroner.
* Estonia detained 10 former Danske Bank A/S employees suspected of facilitating money laundering at the bank's Estonian branch, Reuters reported, citing the Estonian state prosecutor.
* Slovenia's parliament yesterday named economist Boštjan Vasle governor of the country's central bank, Reuters reported, citing parliamentary speaker Dejan Židan. Vasle will succeed Boštjan Jazbec, who resigned in April to take a position on the EU's Single Resolution Board.
* Bulgaria's Commission on Protection of Competition approved OTP Bank Nyrt. unit DSK Bank's acquisition of Societe Generale Expressbank AD and other local units of Société Générale SA, SEENews reported.
* State-controlled Russian bank PAO Promsvyazbank is preparing for possible disconnection from Visa and MasterCard payment systems in light of potential new sanctions, Vedomosti reported. The bank has already decreased its security deposits held at the two companies, and is actively involved in the development of Russian payment system Mir to process card transactions in Russia.
* Ewa Radkowska-Świętoń resigned as president of the management board at Polish investment fund manager Skarbiec Holding SA, Parkiet reported, also noting that the company's supervisory board dismissed management board deputy head Andrzej Sołdek from the post.
IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD
Asia-Pacific: Punjab National Bank officials arrested; Bursa Malaysia names CEO
Middle East & Africa: Nasdaq Dubai to launch futures trading; Gulf nations hike rates after Fed move
Latin America: Agrobanco revival push gets OK; Inverlink, BTG Colombia to open real estate fund
North America: Ex-Goldman banker banned for life; Citi sees $180M loss on loans to Asian fund
NOW FEATURED ON S&P GLOBAL MARKET INTELLIGENCE
Reinsurance prices flat for now, but ILS-fueled retro crunch looms: Ahead of the crucial Jan. 1 renewals, market participants have seen little evidence of rate increases so far for non-loss-affected reinsurance business, but a shortage of retrocession capacity could push up prices.
Natixis shares sharply down after Asian markets warning: Shares in the French investment bank fell more than 7% on Dec. 19 as investors fretted about its risk management, after it said revenues would be hit by derivative transactions on volatile Asian markets.
Ben Meggeson, Ed Meza, Danielle Rossingh, Esben Svendsen, Beata Fojcik, Heather O'Brian, Brian McCulloch, Praxilla Trabattoni and Mariana Aldano contributed to this report.
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This S&P Global Market Intelligence news article may contain information about credit ratings issued by S&P Global Ratings. Descriptions in this news article were not prepared by S&P Global Ratings.