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RBI to tighten oversight of banks; Philippine bank denies potential Taiwan deal

S&P Global Market Intelligence offers our top picks of banking news stories and more published throughout the week. Please note that some entries may have links to third-party sources that may require a subscription.

Fraud cases in Indian banking sector

* The Reserve Bank of India appointed a five-person panel to review and strengthen its oversight of commercial lenders after an alleged fraud scheme was discovered at Punjab National Bank.

* India's authorities widened the ongoing probe into the 114 billion-Indian-rupee fraud case, questioning 10 more officials and arresting a general manager of the bank.

* The Hong Kong Monetary Authority reportedly questioned Indian banks' branches in the city involved in the fraud scheme.

* India-based UCO Bank and Allahabad Bank said they have outstanding exposure of about US$411.8 million and US$366.9 million, respectively, in the Punjab National Bank fraud scheme.

* India's tax department estimated that losses to Indian banks that issued loans and credit guarantees to diamond companies involved in the fraud scheme could total more than $3 billion.

* In a separate case, Indian authorities are investigating Rotomac Global Pvt. Ltd. owner Vikram Kothari and his son for allegedly defaulting on loans worth 36.95 billion rupees from seven banks, including Bank of Baroda.

Philippine Business Bank denies possible investment in Taiwan bank, more deal news

* Philippine Business Bank Inc. denied speculation that it was considering a deal with Taiwan Cooperative Bank Ltd. about a possible equity investment.

* India-based Federal Bank Ltd. will acquire up to a 26% stake in investment bank Equirus Capital Pvt. Ltd. for an undisclosed sum.

* India's Housing Development Finance Corp. Ltd. is said to be in talks to acquire Apollo Munich Health Insurance Co. Ltd.

* The state government of Kerala, India, is likely to get regulatory approval for the merger of 14 district cooperative banks by February-end.

* Meanwhile, India's Catholic Syrian Bank Ltd. will sell a 51% stake in the lender to Canada-based Fairfax India Holdings Corp. at 140 rupees per share.

* Japanese regional lender Minato Bank Ltd. will cease to be a consolidated subsidiary of Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group Inc. as part of the bank's plan to consolidate its regional banking units in Japan's Kansai region with Resona Holdings Inc.'s Kinki Osaka Bank Ltd.

Earnings corner

* ANZ Bank New Zealand Ltd. posted a year-over-year increase in profit for the quarter ended Dec. 31, 2017, to NZ$510 million, while net profit at Westpac New Zealand Ltd. for the same quarter slipped to NZ$228 million.

* National Bank of Pakistan posted a year-over-year increase in net profit for 2017 full year to 23.18 billion Pakistani rupees, while United Bank Ltd. posted a year-over-year decline in net profit for the full year to 26.19 billion rupees.

* Hong Kong-based Hang Seng Bank Ltd.'s net profit for 2017 rose 23% year over year to HK$20.02 billion, driven by continued growth in lending as well as higher income from foreign exchange and derivatives trading.

* Land Bank of the Philippines reported a 4% year-over-year increase in net income for the full year ended Dec. 31, 2017.

In other news

* The Reserve Bank of India is tightening its approval process for companies' borrowing abroad amid concerns that a rise in rupee volatility may hinder their ability to repay debt.

* Five major New Zealand banks have decided to remove ATM withdrawal fees for all domestic customers. The banks are Westpac New Zealand, ANZ Bank New Zealand, Kiwibank Ltd., ASB Bank Ltd. and Bank of New Zealand.

* India-based Aditya Birla Idea Payments Bank Ltd. started operations on Feb. 22 after receiving approval from the country's central bank.

* Sri Lanka-based Commercial Bank of Ceylon PLC's unit, CBC Myanmar Microfinance Co. Ltd., received a license from the Myanmar Microfinance Supervisory Enterprise to operate in the country.

* Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd. reportedly obtained approval from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas to set up a branch in Manila.

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