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Religare to divest stake in insurer; Thailand denies manipulating baht

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Religare to divest stake in insurer; Thailand denies manipulating baht

* A consortium of investors led by True North Managers will acquire Religare Enterprises Ltd.' 80% stake in Religare Health Insurance Co. Ltd. for 10.40 billion rupees.

* The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection has announced that the chairman of the China Insurance Regulatory Commission, Xiang Junbo, is under investigation for suspected "serious disciplinary violations," Reuters reported.

* Singapore's DBS Bank Ltd. received a U.K. license as it looks to expand its wealth management business in London to attract Asian investors, the Financial Times reported.

* Bank of Thailand Governor Veerathai Santiprabhob denied that Thai authorities have manipulated the baht to gain an unfair advantage in exports after the U.S. decided to investigate possible trade abuse by the Southeast Asian country, Bloomberg News reported.

GREATER CHINA

* Yang Jiacai, an assistant to the chairman of the China Banking Regulatory Commission, said the regulator had fined 631 banking institutions in 2016, with a total penalty of 270 million yuan, Beijing Business Today reported. During the first quarter, the commission had imposed 70% of the total penalty in 2016.

* The CBRC also launched a self-check campaign for the country's banking institutions, requiring lenders to find out whether acts were committed in violation of regulations or banks' internal rules of conduct, Caixin reported.

* China's debt-to-equity swaps stood at 238 billion yuan in the first quarter, mostly in coal and steel industries, Reuters reported, citing a report by Natixis.

JAPAN AND KOREA

* Sumitomo Life Insurance Co. will introduce a foreign currency-denominated insurance product that guarantees the principal for up to 10 years, The Nikkei reported.

* Japan's three megabanks are expected to cut the number of newly hired college graduates by 25% in April 2018, citing sluggish revenue, The Nikkei reported.

* South Korean credit card companies have earned 4.3 trillion won in 2016, or 167% of the actual procurement amount mainly due to credit loan products, the Yonhap News Agency reported, citing data from the Financial Supervisory Service.

ASEAN

* The Finance Ministry said 155 informal lenders from 50 provinces across Thailand have applied for a pico-finance license, Manager Daily reported, citing Krisada Chinavicharana, director of the country's Fiscal Policy Office. A total of 13 licenses have been issued, he said.

* Thailand's Office of Insurance Commission published guidelines for fintech firms looking to enter a regulatory sandbox to conduct experiments with new insurance products and services, Post Today reported.

* Singapore Exchange Ltd. established an independent regulatory unit and named Tan Cheng Han as the unit's chairman. Singapore Exchange Regulation Pte. Ltd., or SGX RegCo, will handle the exchange's frontline regulatory functions, separating it from the bourse's commercial and operating activities. The new unit is expected to start operations in the third quarter.

* The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas approved measures for introducing stringent security features, including multi-factor authentication for online transactions to counter identity theft, BusinessWorld reported, citing Deputy Governor Nestor Espenilla.

SOUTH ASIA

* Kotak Mahindra Bank Ltd. said unit Kotak Infrastructure Debt Fund received a certificate of registration from the Reserve Bank of India. The unit will operate as a nonbanking finance company.

* India's Finance Ministry may ask the Securities and Exchange Board of India to allow time beyond August's deadline to meet a 25% public float requirement for some banks, Press Trust of India reported. The government's stake in seven banks, including United Bank of India, Indian Bank, Bank of Maharashtra and Central Bank of India, stands at more than 75% after a series of recent capital infusions.

* South Indian Bank Ltd. inked a deal with Flyworld Money Exchange to facilitate its customers receiving remittances from Australia to India, The Hindu Business Line reported.

AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND

* The Australian Financial Services Ministry is establishing a new body, the Financial Adviser Standards and Ethics Authority, from July 1, which would set up mandatory training programs for the financial sector, The Australian Financial Review reported. Cathy Walter has been appointed to chair the new body.

* The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority plans to expand its scope to nonbanking lenders, of which many are still unable to comply with lending rule changes such as recent limits on investor and interest-only loans, The Australian reported.

* New Zealand's banking sector is susceptible to money launderers and terrorist financiers due to the inherent risk owing to the nature of the sector, New Zealand Herald reported, citing a statement from the central bank.

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

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