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JPMorgan applies for China JV; ANZ may sell NZ life ops; Indian bank posts loss

GREATER CHINA

* JPMorgan Chase & Co. unit J.P. Morgan Broking (Hong Kong) Ltd. applied with the China Securities Regulatory Commission to set up a brokerage joint venture in China, in which the unit would hold a 51% stake, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing Gao Li, a spokeswoman for the regulator. An unnamed source said the company's strategy in China includes investing and learning more about doing business in the country.

* The China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission released new rules for phasing out paper bills of exchange, known as inter-province transactions, and pushing lenders to adopt an electronic trading system, Caixin reported. The norms also require banks to boost internal controls and monitor their bills-of-exchange businesses to minimize the risk of fraud.

* Fitch Ratings cut its assessment of Hong Kong banks' operating environment to "a" with a stable trend from "a+" with a negative trend, citing the city's rising connectivity with China's economy and financial system, as well as its high macroprudential risk due to above-trend credit growth and high property price inflation. The rating agency added that the growing links cause risks for the strength, effectiveness and independence of Hong Kong's regulatory and legal frameworks.

* Taiwan-based CTBC Financial Holding Co. Ltd. is still keen to establish a foothold in Malaysia despite terminating a planned acquisition of Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC's Malaysia-based unit, Royal Bank of Scotland Bhd., in 2016, the Taipei Times reported, citing Chiu Ya-ling, financial management department head of CTBC. Chiu said the company will keep an eye on any policy change after the political transition in Malaysia.

JAPAN AND KOREA

* Japan's Mizuho Bank Ltd. entered into a cooperation agreement with Export-Import Bank of China to offer enhanced services for companies looking to enter or expand in China or in the Belt and Road economic corridors. The deal also aims to offer financial services, such as trade finance and project finance, with the ability to handle yuan-denominated transactions.

* Japan-based SMBC Trust Bank Ltd. formed a business tie-up with Bank of Hawaii to provide free wire transfers to Hawaii, where some Japanese investors often purchase local properties, Tokyo's The Nikkei reported.

* South Korea's TONGYANG Life Insurance Co. Ltd. received an institutional warning — a slightly lower suspension from the regulator's initial ruling — for allegedly handling imported meat loans illegally by neglecting collateral requirements and overestimating the value of goods, Yonhap News Agency reported.

* South Korea-based Jeonbuk Bank Co. Ltd. signed a memorandum of understanding with U.S.-based PayPal Holdings Inc. to facilitate money transfers, the Korea Economic Daily reported.

ASEAN

* Thai Insurance PCL Managing Director Surat Srisomboonkul said the company has agreed to merge with Southeast Insurance and Financial Group, the financial arm of the Thai Charoen Commercial Group, which is led by tycoon Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi, Post Today reported.

* The Indonesian General Insurance Association expects growth in the sector to improve in 2018, after booking an 11.2% growth in gross premium in the first quarter to 14.4 trillion rupiah, Bisnis Indonesia reported, citing AAUI Executive Director Dody Achmad Sudiyar Dalimunthe.

* The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas raised the rate on its overnight reverse repurchase facility by 25 basis points to 3.25%, the first rate hike since September 2014 to dampen inflationary pressures. Data from the statistics office showed that the country's annual headline inflation accelerated to 4.5% in April, with the central bank saying inflation may breach the target range of 2% to 4% for 2018 due to supply-side factors.

* The Hanoi branch of Agricultural Bank of China Ltd. has commenced operations, Xinhua News Agency reported. In March, the State Bank of Vietnam granted the Chinese bank a license to establish the branch with a charter capital of US$50 million.

SOUTH ASIA

* Union Bank of India posted a stand-alone net loss for the fourth quarter ended March 31 of 25.83 billion rupees, or a loss of 29.59 rupees per share, against a net profit of 1.08 billion rupees, or a profit of 1.58 rupees per share, in the year-ago period. For the full year, the lender reported a consolidated net loss of 52.12 billion rupees per share, or a loss of 68.98 rupees per share, compared with a net profit of 5.73 billion rupees, or a profit of 8.33 rupees per share.

* South Korea-based Mirae Asset Daewoo Co. Ltd. will spend US$300 million to establish investment banking operations in India, which will be named Mirae Asset Capital Markets India, The Economic Times reported. The new company will be headed by Benedict Ryu, with Aditya Loonkar and Anshul Mittal serving as co-heads of investment banking.

* India's HDFC Bank Ltd. will commence its search for CEO Aditya Puri's successor in about 18 months, allowing a 12-month overlap period during which the successor will work with Puri, The Economic Times reported. Puri is set to retire in October 2020.

* Bangladesh Industrial Finance Co. Ltd., a nonbank financial institution, is facing liquidation due to its failure to pay back 6.40 billion taka of loans and deposits to 19 lenders and seven nonbank financial companies, The Daily Star reported. An unnamed Bangladesh Bank official said the central bank is awaiting recommendations from the country's finance ministry on whether to proceed with liquidation, restructuring or a merger of the company.

AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND

* Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. is set to announce the sale of New Zealand life insurance unit OnePath after receiving final bids from companies, including local insurer Partners Life Ltd., The Australian reported, citing anonymous sources. Partners Life and Hong Kong's AIA Group Ltd. are reportedly interested in the New Zealand life insurer instead of asset-backed finance company UDC Finance Ltd., contradicting an earlier report.

* Australia-based small business lender Prospa, which seeks to raise up to A$100 million through an IPO, will offer its shares at between A$3.04 and A$3.83 per share, The Australian reported. The company will be valued at A$500 million to A$600 million, according to documents detailing the plan. The institutional bookbuild for the IPO will occur May 17.

* Commonwealth Bank of Australia admitted that its planning division violated the law when it allegedly charged customers for services they did not receive, adding that it had paid back A$118.5 million to affected clients, The Sydney Morning Herald reported, citing a statement. The lender has also been subject to an enforceable undertaking with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission.

* AMP Ltd.'s shareholders voted against its executive pay following misconduct revelations at Australia's royal commission in April, Reuters reported. Meanwhile, Andrew Harmos was re-elected director after receiving 62% of votes, well below the near-unanimous support AMP directors often receive. U.S. asset manager BlackRock Inc., AMP's second-largest shareholder, said while Harmos "bears some responsibility" for the misconduct, it supported his election to make sure the board's work would continue.

IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD

Middle East & Africa: Samba Q1 profit rises 6% YOY; Bahrain says reserves enough to keep dollar peg

Europe: RBS to pay $4.9B to settle US probe; UniCredit Q1 profit up 22.6% YOY

Latin America: Banco do Brasil's Q1 profit rises; Scotiabank to buy 51% of Banco Cencosud

North America: Wells Fargo to pay Calif. bankers $97M; RBS settles US mortgage probe for $4.9B

North America Insurance: Axa's US IPO misses target; Florida's Citizens buying $1.42B reinsurance in 2018

R Sio, Sally Wang, Sarun Saelee, Cathy Hwang, Emi White and Aditya Suharmoko contributed to this report.

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