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* Moody’s downgraded the long-term issuer and senior unsecured ratings of Hong Kong to Aa3 from Aa2, citing the absence of a tangible plan by the government to solve the political and economic issues arising from ongoing pro-democracy protests. Meanwhile, the rating agency has upgraded the outlook to stable from negative due to the city's superior fiscal strength and consistent macroeconomic stability.

* Chongqing Rural Commercial Bank Co. Ltd. is collaborating with Xiaomi Corp. to set up Xiaomi Consumer Finance Co. Ltd. The bank will invest 450 million yuan to acquire a 30% stake in the new company.

* Bai Tao resigned as executive director, vice chairman and president of People's Insurance Co. (Group) of China Ltd. due to work arrangements, the company said.

* CITIC Prudential Life Insurance Co. Ltd. obtained approval to establish an asset management arm with a registered capital of 500 million yuan, Shanghai Securities News reported.

* Bank of Guiyang Co. Ltd. will issue up to 500 million A shares to eight shareholders to raise a maximum of 4.5 billion yuan for the replenishment of its core Tier 1 capital.

* Export-Import Bank of China is said to have decided on Wu Fulin as its new president, Caixin reported, citing sources.


* Dai-ichi Life Insurance Co. Ltd. will launch a unit specializing in short-term insurance sometime between April and September. The insurer will set up Dai-ichi Smart, an ad hoc company that will serve as a precursor to the new unit.

* South Korea's Financial Supervisory Service said its inspectors will look into how financial companies handle the origination, sales and after-sales service of high-risk financial products based on derivatives-linked funds, hedge funds and overseas real estate assets.

* Samsung Life Insurance Co. Ltd. appointed Samsung Asset Management Co. Ltd. CEO Jeon Youngmuk to be its new CEO, The Chosun Ilbo reported.

* The board of Hana Financial Group Inc. approved a plan to acquire 70% of The-K Non-Life Insurance Co. Ltd., a wholly owned unit of The Korean Teachers' Credit Union, the Maeil Business Newspaper reported, citing industry sources.

* Hana Financial Group Inc. will invest more than 500 billion won in unit Hana Financial Investment Co. Ltd. by acquiring new shares in the first half, The Korea Economic Daily reported, citing industry sources.


* The Bank of Thailand will ease mortgage lending rules, effective Jan. 20, to encourage borrowing among home buyers, the Bangkok Post reported. Under the revised rules, first-time buyers of homes worth less than 10 million baht will be allowed to borrow an extra 10%, said Ronadol Numnonda, the central bank's deputy governor.

* Bank of Ayudhya PCL and its subsidiaries posted a consolidated net profit of 32.7 billion baht for fiscal 2019, up 32% from 2018, the bank said. Noninterest income for the period increased 31.9% from 2018.

* Government Savings Bank will start accepting applications for its new president and CEO from Jan. 27 to Feb. 7, as the lender searches for a successor to Chatchai Payuhanaveechai, who will complete his term in June, Thailand's Krungthep Turakij reported.

* Bank for Agriculture & Agricultural Co-operatives proposed raising its registered capital by 6 billion baht, Bangkok Post reported. The Thai cabinet will consider the proposal this week.

* A consortium led by China's Zall Smart Commerce Group Ltd., and including Marubeni Corp. and Singapore-based Global eTrade Services, has applied for a Singapore wholesale banking licence, The Business Times reported.


* India's Ujjivan Small Finance Bank Ltd. is considering a reverse merger with holding company Ujjivan Financial Services Ltd. to cut the stake of its promoter to 40%, in line with regulatory guidelines, Bloomberg News reported, quoting the bank's managing director and president, Nitin Chugh.

* The Indian government named Sanjiv Chadha, Lingam Venkat Prabhakar and Atanu Kumar Das managing directors and CEOs of Bank of Baroda, Canara Bank and Bank of India, respectively, Mint reported. Separately, the Press Trust of India reported that the government named Challa Sreenivasulu Setty managing director of State Bank of India for a three-year term.

* The Indian government is looking at various options for dealing with the credit crisis at domestic nonbank financial companies, which includes one where the Reserve Bank of India or a special purpose vehicle would provide liquidity to the firms against their assets, The Economic Times reported.

* New India Co-Operative Bank Ltd.'s shareholders approved the conversion of the lender into a small finance bank, Press Trust of India reported.

* Punit Sood returned to RBS India as its country head, The Economic Times reported. He succeeds Pankaj Phatarphod.


* Australia's Pepper Group Ltd. plans to decide on its IPO in the first half, The Australian Financial Review’s Street Talk blog reported. It began a nondeal road show with fund managers in Hong Kong and will move to North America later this week.

* SocietyOne Australia Pty. Ltd. raised A$15 million from its shareholders including News Ltd., Seven West Media, Consolidated Press Holdings and Reinventure Group, The Australian Financial Review’s Street Talk blog reported. The lender has recently made A$800 million in its personal and agribusiness loan business, the blog noted.

* The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority is looking into the security of the IT systems of health insurers in the country over concerns over their level of security, The Australian reported.

* Debt collection firm Credit Clear purchased Credit Solutions after a A$9 million raising round, The Australian reported. Brenton Glaister, formerly the managing director of Credit Solutions, was named managing director of the combined group. Credit Clear is now planning an IPO.


Middle East & Africa: Access Bank to complete acquisition; NBB set to own controlling stake in peer

Europe: Deutsche mulls 30% i-bank bonus cut; HSBC cuts equities jobs; mBank gets offers

Latin America: Argentina tweaks Leliq auctions; Caixa plans management change at insurance arm

R Sio, Emily Lai, Jonathan Cheah, James Lim and Santibhap Ussavasodhi contributed to this report.

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