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Citi to open Singapore currency trading hub; ORIX mulls overseas asset arm sale

GREATER CHINA

* Zhou Liang, vice chairman of the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission, said that the regulator is seeking advice on the management of insurance funds' investment in equities, and will speed up introducing regulations, China Securities Journal reported. Zhou added that the regulator encourages banks and institutions to replenish capitals via multiple channels.

* Cao Yu, vice chairman of the CBIRC said that the regulator will assess applications for setting up private banks, and that there will be no limit in the number of approved banks or the scale of banks to be approved, Shanghai Securities News reported.

* The People's Bank of China said China's social financing grew steadily in the first two months of 2019, and expects the growth of the country's social financing to in line with its nominal GDP growth.

* Wang Yuling, head of Wuhan City branch of the People's Bank of China, said the central bank has formulated a tool for supporting private enterprises' equity financing, the China Securities Journal reported. Wang said the central bank will adopt the tool after it receives approval from the State Council.

JAPAN AND KOREA

* Japan's ORIX Corp. is reportedly in talks with multiple M&A bankers regarding a possible divestment of Netherlands-based Robeco's asset arm, Bloomberg News reported, citing the Netherlands' The Telegraph. The Japanese company is expected to sell the assets for about ¥450 billion to ¥500 billion. ORIX's press relation department denied the talks.

* Nippon Life Insurance Co. has invested ¥10 billion in a fund that supports the United Nation's Sustainable Development Goal, The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun reported. The fund was established by Nissay Asset Management Corp. and will invest in European corporate bonds. The company plans to invest a total of ¥2 trillion into overseas credits and project finances by 2020.

* Korea Development Bank established KDB Biz, a new entity that would help the bank solve labor contract issues with its temporary, short-term contractors, The Chosun Ilbo reported, citing the bank.

ASEAN

* Citigroup Inc. will open an electronic currency trading and pricing platform in Singapore, making the city-state its fourth forex trading engine location, Bloomberg News reported, citing Stuart Staley, Asia Pacific head of markets and securities services. The new service is expected to go live in the fourth quarter and will support 23 spot currencies, according to the report.

* Thailand-based Kasikornbank PCL plans to provide loans for GrabCar and GrabBike drivers in the country in a bid to create job opportunities and address the informal debt problem, Daily News reported, citing Supreecha Limpikanjanakowit, the bank's first senior vice president. The planned lending service is in the process of being tested in the central bank's regulatory sandbox, Supreecha said.

* CIMB Thai Bank PCL's research unit expects the Thai economy to grow 3.7% in 2019, slowing from a 4.1% growth last year, due to political uncertainty causing investors to delay investments, Daily News reported. The firm forecasts the country's GDP growth to be at 3.3% in the first half of the year.

* Indonesian Islamic bank PT Bank Syariah Mandiri will focus on developing digital banking in 2019, allocating 270 billion Indonesian rupiah for IT spending, Kompas reported, citing technology and operation director Achmad Syafii. Transactions via e-channels rose 8.15% in 2018 to 80.76 million transactions.

* The Philippine government is planning to issue US$300 million to US$500 million of yuan-denominated bonds in China in April, The Philippine Star reported, citing the Bureau of the Treasury.

SOUTH ASIA

* The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India is awaiting a proposal from Life Insurance Corp. of India to cut its 51% stake in IDBI Bank Ltd., the Press Trust of India reported. Insurers in India are only allowed to own a 15% stake in any listed entity, but LIC had earlier received approval to hold more in some state-run banks. Subhash Chandra Khuntia, the regulator's chairman, said they will take a decision after reviewing the insurer's proposal.

* Banks in India are calling on the central bank to loosen further monetary policy in order for them to pass on lower rates to consumers, Bloomberg News reported. The Reserve Bank of India cut the repurchase rate by 25 basis points to 6.25% in February.

* The Reserve Bank of India fined Corporation Bank 10 million rupees for lacking regulatory compliance with one of the four compensatory control to do on real time basis.

* The Anti-Corruption Commission of Bangladesh filed an appeal to overturn the metropolitan magistrate's decision to grant a bail to former Farmers Bank Managing Director and CEO, Chowdhury Mustaque over an embezzlement case involving 290 million rupees, The Daily Star reported.

AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND

* The Australian Securities and Investments Commission said major banks' reviews of systemic failures for imposing fees for no service have been "unreasonably delayed." ASIC Commissioner Danielle Press said they welcome a government directive that provides additional power to the regulator to push financial companies to "establish suitable customer review and compensation programs."

* ASIC plans to scrutinize the country's travel insurance industry to find out how travel insurers handle claims, and whether the fine print in contracts is fair to customers, The Sydney Morning Herald reported.

* ASIC said it now has the file notes on the interviews conducted by law firm Clayton Utz with current and former employees and officers of AMP Ltd. in connection with its October 2017 report regarding fees for no service. ASIC had been in dispute with Clayton Utz and AMP, which claimed that the notes were subject to legal professional privilege.

IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD

Middle East & Africa: Isracard IPO gains steam; no tax hike in Saudi Arabia; Amen Bank gets new chair

Europe: OneSavings, Charter Court in merger talks; UBS, StanChart to settle HK IPO case

Latin America: US sues top Venezuelan official; Peru's PM quits; Banco Macro's Q4 profit up 67%

North America: JPMorgan combines 2 teams; Citi setting up Singapore forex platform

Global Insurance: Genworth layoffs; Argo-shareholder tussle; plane crash payout

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

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