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BBVA spying case fallout; new fine for UBS; Brexit hangs in balance

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BBVA spying case fallout; new fine for UBS; Brexit hangs in balance

* The U.K. House of Commons yesterday voted in favor of postponing the March 29 Brexit date, avoiding, for now, the risk of crashing out of the EU without a deal. Lawmakers voted 412-202 backing a government motion to delay the departure from the bloc until June 30, as long as a Brexit deal could be passed by March 20.

* However, a spokesman for the European Commission said any extension would require the unanimous approval of all 27 member states in the bloc, Reuters reported. Senior EU officials and other European leaders are understood to have informed May that she must hold a second referendum or soften her Brexit demands to delay the deadline, according to The Times.

* Hong Kong's Securities and Futures Commission barred UBS Group AG from sponsoring IPOs in the city for one year, as well as reprimanded and fined it and three other investments banks, including Standard Chartered PLC 's local unit, for failing their duties as sponsors in three new listings as far back as 10 years ago.

* The German Banking Industry Committee, which represents Germany's banking-sector associations, is calling for a revision of MiFID II rules on securities transactions that have been in place since the beginning of 2018, Handelsblatt reported. The committee argued that the regulations are a "nuisance" to customers and a "nightmare" for credit institutions and advisers, backing its position with a survey conducted among customers and banks.

* Catastrophe risk modeler AIR Worldwide pegged insured losses due to wind from a recent winter storm in Europe in the range of €900 million to €1.5 billion, with Germany bearing the brunt.

UK AND IRELAND

* A long-delayed independent investigation into whether executives at Lloyds Banking Group PLC were aware of the fraud at unit HBOS PLC is not likely to be completed until 2020, an insider told Reuters. The inquiry, led by retired high court judge Linda Dobbs, will start interviewing Lloyds executives in autumn, the source said.

* The U.K. Treasury postponed the appointment of Jayne-Anne Gadhia as an external member of the Bank of England's Financial Policy Committee to April 2020 rather than next month, to avoid conflicts of interest. Gadhia is the former CEO of Virgin Money Holdings (UK) PLC.

* The British Competition and Markets Authority is discussing taking possible action against a group of high-street banks in the U.K. after missing an important deadline for the rollout of the government's open banking framework, the Financial News wrote.

* Barclays PLC named Helen Kelly country manager for Ireland and Pat McCormack managing director, head of private bank and overseas at Barclays Bank Ireland PLC, The Irish Times reported.

* U.K. life insurer Just Group PLC raised gross proceeds of approximately £75 million from a share issue after the placement priced at 80 pence a share.

GERMANY, SWITZERLAND AND AUSTRIA

* UBS said it increased its total provisions for ongoing litigations to €450 million. In February, the Swiss lender was fined a total of €4.5 billion by a French court, which ruled that UBS aided and abetted tax fraud for its wealthy clients in France.

* Deutsche Bank AG saw a decline in revenues from its prime services business for a third straight year in 2018, contributing to the German lender's approximately $750 million loss in its equity trading division, insiders told Bloomberg News.

* Swiss Re AG's board of directors will ask shareholders to approve up to CHF2.0 billion in share repurchases, which would be about double the size of the reinsurer's recently completed share buyback program.

* Swiss private banking group Julius Bär Gruppe AG launched a search process for CEO Bernhard Hodler's replacement, with incoming Chairman Romeo Lacher having held informal discussions with potential candidates, insiders told Bloomberg News.

* Allianz Group unit Allianz Global Investors launched the Allianz European Infrastructure Fund S.A. – RAIF, which allows institutional investors to invest for the first time directly in European infrastructure alongside Allianz. The fund has a target size of €500 million and will raise capital from institutional investors and pension funds.

FRANCE AND BENELUX

* VIVAT NV is likely to be broken up and its parts sold off, Het Financieele Dagblad wrote. A number of potential bidders have reportedly partnered with private equity firms to cherry pick parts of the Dutch insurer. Potential joint bidders include Aegon NV and Blackstone Group LP, and NN Group NV and Bermuda-based Athora Holding Ltd.

* Dutch car leasing firm LeasePlan is reviewing ways to sell its second-hand car unit CarNext, according to Het Financieele Dagblad.

* BNP Paribas Asset Management, the fund management arm of French banking giant BNP Paribas SA, will stop investing in companies that make more than 10% of their revenues from coal mining.

* Belgian state-owned Belfius Banque SA will launch an app that matches companies seeking to raise money by issuing bonds to potential investors, De Tijd reported.

SPAIN AND PORTUGAL

* Former Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA Executive Chairman Francisco González said he will "temporarily" step down as honorary chairman of the Spanish lender until an ongoing probe into alleged corporate espionage at the bank is completed, the Financial Times reported.

* Unicaja Banco SA and Liberbank SA are working to finalize their merger between October and November, Expansión reports. The first draft of their merger plan will be presented by mid-April.

ITALY AND GREECE

* Generali CEO Philippe Donnet said the Italian insurer is aiming to boost its position in European insurance through bolt-on acquisitions and will also look for deals beyond Europe to grow its asset management business. Separately, French lender Société Générale SA said it has a potential 4.98% stake in the insurer, MF wrote.

* Unione di Banche Italiane SpA's new board is expected to see the confirmation of Victor Massiah as CEO and Letizia Moratti as chairwoman, according to Il Sole 24 Ore.

* Igea Banca SpA's board approved its binding offer for Banca del Fucino SpA, MF noted. A deal has also been agreed with state-controlled bad loan manager SGA Società per la Gestione di Attività - SGA SpA for the securitization of €310 million in Banca del Fucino bad loans.

* Attica Bank SA said Panagiotis Roumeliotis resigned from his post as chairman of the Greek lender March 13. The bank's board of directors will meet next week to elect Roumeliotis' successor.

EASTERN EUROPE

* VTB Bank PJSC CEO Andrey Kostin confirmed plans to transfer the lender's 25% stake in U.S. sanctions-hit JSCB Evrofinance-Mosnarbank Bank JSC to the Russian state, noting that the stake will be transferred in the next few days, and most likely for free, RBC reported.

* Leading Russian banks, including PAO Sberbank of Russia, VTB and AO Gazprombank, are exploring ways in which they could help each other with keeping at least short-term access to the global financial system in case of new U.S. sanctions, Reuters reported.

* Gazprombank divested its indirect stake in Petrozamora, a joint venture set up with Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA in 2012 to develop Venezuelan oil fields, Reuters noted.

* VTB launched a tender offer to purchase the remaining shares of Vozrozhdenie Bank it does not yet own, offering the remaining minority shareholders a price of 481.68 Russian rubles per each of their Vozrozhdenie shares, Prime wrote. VTB and its affiliated entities currently hold a 96.3% stake in Vozrozhdenie.

* The Russian central bank declared an auction for the sale of an almost 100% stake in PJSC Asian-Pacific Bank invalid as none of the two approved investors took part in the auction. The regulator said that it would try to sell the lender again in 2020.

* Azerbaijan-based AccessBank CJSC CEO Anar Hasanov told Reuters the lender expects to turn to profit in 2020 following the completion of its capitalization.

* Bank BGŻ BNP Paribas SA plans to launch the rebranding of branches taken over from Raiffeisen Bank Polska SA as part of the acquisition of its core business, with an operating merger planned for the last quarter of 2019, PAP wrote. As part of the planned rebranding, BGŻ BNP Paribas also wants to change its name to BNP Paribas Bank Polska.

* The Albanian central bank granted preliminary approval for OTP Bank Nyrt. to acquire an 88.89% stake in Banka Societe Generale Albania Sh.a. from SocGen, SEENews reported. The regulator also issued a preliminary approval for the takeover of Banka Nderkombetare Tregtare Sh.a., or International Commercial Bank, by Union Bank Sh.a.

* Ukraine-based JSC International Investment Bank plans to increase its authorized capital by over 21% to 333.6 million hryvnia and will finance the hike from its earnings, Delo.ua noted.

IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD

Asia-Pacific: Hong Kong fines 4 global banks; UBS Australia faces probe over A$1.2B loan

Middle East & Africa: Dubai payments firm tables London IPO; Standard Bank to cut 1,200 jobs

Latin America: Davivienda Q4'18 profit up 4%; BCRA rate hike to hurt banks, Moody's says

North America: Wells Fargo CEO gets 5% pay raise; Dems drop CRA mandate for CUs in housing bill

Global Insurance: Liberty Mutual sale; short-term health plans probed; US grounds 737 MAX

NOW FEATURED ON S&P GLOBAL MARKET INTELLIGENCE

Generali wants to bolster position in Europe with bolt-on M&A, says CEO: The Italian insurer's general manager, Frédéric de Courtois, said the company would remain "extremely disciplined" about what it buys.

French investment banks hit hardest in year-end 2018 market turmoil: France-based BNP Paribas, SocGen, Natixis saw the sharpest drops in trading revenues during the capital markets turmoil at the end of 2018 and were also among the worst performing global investment banks on a full-year basis.

Favorable prospects justify investor support, Just Group CEO says as shares drop: Rodney Cook told analysts that the life insurer is taking steps to become capital self-sufficient by 2022, including hedges for no negative equity guarantees in equity release mortgages. Just's shares fell over 12% as it sought fresh debt and equity.

Deza Mones, Ed Meza, Danielle Rossingh, Gerard O'Dwyer, Beata Fojcik, Heather O'Brian, Stephanie Salti, PraxillaTrabattoni 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.