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Danske faces new lawsuit; Commerzbank ups comdirect stake; HK protests hit HSBC

S&P Global Market Intelligence offer our top picks of banking news stories and more published throughout the week.

Legal matters

* A group of around 60 international investors sued Danske Bank A/S over the Danish lender's alleged ties to a money-laundering scheme, Reuters reported. The investors are seeking 1.5 billion Danish kroner in damages.

* The Austrian Supreme Administrative Court annulled a €2.7 million fine imposed on Raiffeisen Bank International AG by the country's market regulator over poor money-laundering prevention methods.

* A U.S. district judge denied Türkiye Halk Bankası AŞ's request to halt a federal prosecution accusing the Turkish bank of assisting Iran in dodging economic sanctions imposed by the U.S.

M&A buzz

* Commerzbank AG is set to take full control of unit comdirect bank AG after striking a deal to buy shares in the digital lender from U.K.-based institutional investor Petrus Advisers LLP and increase its stake to more than 90%.

* The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development sold its entire 10% stake in Borsa İstanbul AS to the Turkish sovereign wealth fund, Bloomberg News reported.

* Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena SpA disposed of a portfolio of nonperforming loans to fellow Italian bank illimity Bank SpA for approximately €1.6 billion and finalized two other transactions for a total of €200 million.

* Nordea Bank Abp completed the sale of its 39% stake in Danish mortgage broker LR Realkredit A/S to Nykredit A/S unit Nykredit Realkredit A/S, after obtaining customary regulatory approvals for the deal.

* Iceland's central bank and Financial Supervisory Authority have merged.

Regulatory activity

* Cembra Money Bank AG has alerted Swiss financial market supervisory authority Finma about inconsistencies in some of its documentation to clients uncovered by an internal investigation, Inside Paradeplatz reported. The regulator is due to investigate the matter, with the probe possibly costing Cembra around CHF10 million.

* An asset quality review of the Kazakh banking system showed that participating lenders would need 450 billion tenge in additional Tier 1 capital to cover risks, reported.

* Banks with Russian capital demonstrated the worst results during the recent stress tests carried out by the National Bank of Ukraine due to the gradual phasing out of their activities in the country, lack of quality assets and insufficient revenues from core businesses, the regulator said.

In other news

* HSBC Holdings PLC was forced to close some branches and ATMs in Hong Kong on Jan. 2 after being drawn into the fallout of continuing anti-government protests, Reuters reported.

* The Italian Treasury made a request to the European Commission to delay until early 2020 the presentation of its plan to sell the government's 68% stake in Monte dei Paschi, Reuters reported. The Treasury was originally due to present the plan by the end of 2019.

* Polish banks may be required to pay around 3.1 billion zlotys in contributions to the country's bank guarantee fund in 2020, an increase of 12% year over year, PAP reported, citing the head of the fund, Mirosław Panek.

* Italian market regulator Consob said the country's depositor protection fund now owns 80% of Banca Carige SpA after funding most of the lender's €700 million capital increase, Reuters reported.

* British digital lender Monzo Bank Ltd. has been in talks with investors to raise funds ranging between £50 million and £100 million, sources told The Mail on Sunday.

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Britain's biggest banks use their muscle to challenge fintech rivals: Some of Britain's largest banks have launched digital-only services to rival upstart fintechs, complete with garish bank cards and obscure names — but on the back of a treasure trove of real customer data.

For capital break on 'green' investments, climate risk assessment is crucial: As regulators consider potentially easing prudential rules for environmentally friendly investing, a sticking point is how to assess climate risks on banks' balance sheets, experts say.

Scandinavia's mobile payment success stories face up to rival tech giants: Three bank-owned mobile payment applications that have helped Scandinavian banks withstand pressure from emergent financial technology companies now face intensifying competition from tech giants' digital wallets.