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NBG, Alpha Bank swing to FY'16 profit; insurers face hit; JPMorgan eyes Dublin


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NBG, Alpha Bank swing to FY'16 profit; insurers face hit; JPMorgan eyes Dublin

* The Basel Committee proposed a number of revisions to its global systemically important banks assessment methodology, which include removing the cap on the sustainability category and expanding the scope of consolidation to include insurance subsidiaries. The committee is accepting comments on the proposed revisions until June 30.

* Experts have warned that incoming EU legislation on data protection, known as the General Data Protection Regulations, could leave many insurers exposed to fines and fraud as only one in four insurers will be adequately prepared for the changes when they come into force in May 2018, Insurance Times writes. The new data rules include imposing fines for noncompliance of up to 4% of a company's global turnover.

* Think thank Bruegel said the U.K.'s bill for withdrawing from the EU could amount to at least €25.4 billion but is unlikely to reach the €60 billion figure floated by senior EU officials, The Irish Times writes. Meanwhile, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said the EU's remaining 27 states expect the U.K. to honor its existing financial obligations to the bloc and said there will be no discount available for Britain in Brexit talks, Reuters covers.

* British lawmakers will likely get a vote on whether the U.K. should remain in the EU's single market, Bloomberg News writes, citing Brexit Secretary David Davis, who later downplayed his statement by saying the European Economic Area agreement will no longer be relevant for the U.K. once it quits the bloc.

* Luxembourg has formally joined the battle to host the headquarters of the European Banking Authority after Brexit, Reuters reports.


* The British government has opened a consultation on how, when and by whom the Ogden personal injury discount rate should be set in the future, Intelligent Insurer writes. The Association of British Insurers welcomed the move and stressed that the U.K. will face significantly increased insurance and taxpayer costs until a new rate is set.

* Lloyd's of London CFO John Parry said the cost of setting up a subsidiary in Brussels will be in the "tens of millions" of pounds rather than the "hundreds of millions" and stressed that the plan "remains perfectly achievable and will be a great way" for the market to maintain access in the EU. Meanwhile, Chairman John Nelson expects insurance firms to follow its lead and move to Brussels, saying the Belgian capital's "extremely good regulatory reputation" played a key part in the insurance market's choice, the Financial Times notes.

* JPMorgan Chase & Co. is in talks to acquire an office building in Dublin as it considers expanding in the Irish capital as one of its contingency options for Brexit, insiders tell Bloomberg News. Meanwhile, Citigroup Inc. CEO Jim Cowles told its London staff that it is preparing for a "hard Brexit" and is considering relocating jobs out of the city and establishing a new trading unit within the EU. The Financial Times also covers.

* Two private equity firms have made a formal cash offer for Shawbrook Group Plc, despite the U.K. bank's earlier rejection of their interest. Marlin Bidco Ltd., a company jointly owned by funds managed and advised by Pollen Street Capital Ltd. and funds managed by BC Partners LLP, said it offered to acquire Shawbrook's entire issued and to-be-issued ordinary share capital for 330 pence per share, the same price that was rejected by Shawbrook's board earlier this month.

* UK Asset Resolution said this morning that it has agreed to sell two separate asset portfolios of Bradford & Bingley Plc comprising performing buy-to-let loans for a total of £11.8 billion to Prudential Plc and to funds managed by Blackstone. Financial completion is expected to take place within the next few weeks.

* Willis Towers Watson Plc's investment banking business, Willis Capital Markets & Advisory, has rebranded as Willis Towers Watson Securities.


* AXA CEO Thomas Buberl tells Bilanz that his company has no interest in taking over either Generali or Zurich Insurance Group Ltd. "We are big enough," he says.

* HSH Nordbank AG's full-year 2016 group net result attributable to shareholders fell to €67 million from €99 million in 2015. Pretax profit amounted to €121 million in 2016, compared to the year-ago €450 million. At the core bank, pretax profit more than tripled year over year to €639 million from €204 million, but CEO Stefan Ermisch said the bank's privatization faces a "difficult road" ahead.

* After the failed merger of Deutsche Börse AG and London Stock Exchange Group Plc, the finance minister of the German state of Hesse, Thomas Schäfer, would object to U.S. stock exchanges targeting the Frankfurt-based one, Reuters Deutschland reports.

* Credit Suisse Group AG Chairman Urs Rohner tells Weltwoche that the bank will take its time to decide on a possible IPO of its Swiss business. He also said his bank's wage bill remains too high, according to

* Swiss Life Holding Ltd. CEO Patrick Frost will take half a year out to undergo treatment of a health condition, Reuters notes. CFO Thomas Buess will take over his position on an interim basis.

* Heta Asset Resolution AG, the wind-down unit of Hypo-Alpe-Adria International AG, reports 2016 IFRS profit of €6.71 billion, mainly owing to a debt cut that helped eliminate its negative equity value. Heta also said it is ahead of plans to dispose of 80% of its portfolio by the end of 2018 and may hit the target this year.

* Banque Profil de Gestion SA launched a three-year growth strategy, which aims at increasing AUM by 50% until 2019.

* RBR Capital Advisors AG, a Swiss hedge fund that holds 3.28% in asset manager GAM Holding AG, demands the firm cut a third of its total 1,023 workforce to help bring down costs by CHF100 million annually and double future profits. It also advocates the ouster of CEO Alexander Friedman and the election of new board members at GAM's April 27 annual shareholders meeting, Handelszeitung notes.

* A Swiss court ordered fund manager Dieter Behring, who was convicted of fraud, to make a CHF207 million payment to the nearly 1,200 investors seeking compensation for damages resulting from his scheme, Reuters reports.


* BNP Paribas SA insurance subsidiary BNP Paribas Cardif wants to grow its revenues by €400 million between 2017 and 2020 and increase its net income before tax by 4% to 5%, Les Echos reports. The group's digital transformation will also be at the heart of the insurer's plan, L'Agefi notes.


* While Lone Star's purchase of Novo Banco SA has not been officially announced yet, Economia Online writes that the U.S. private equity fund will pay just a symbolic price for the lender but inject €1 billion into it. Due to the state guarantee, the Portuguese Resolution Fund, which will keep 25% of the bank, might have to inject money into it in 2019 to cover losses from problematic assets in case Novo Banco's health is at stake, Jornal de Negócios adds. A press conference with Finance Minister Mário Centeno has been scheduled for today.

* Unicaja Banco SA asked the European Commission and Spanish bank restructuring fund FROB for an extension of the deadline to launch its IPO, Cinco Días reports.

* Bankia SA closed the sale of a €103.0 million portfolio of nonperforming and defaulted loans, according to Europa Press.

* Caixa Geral de Depósitos SA has revealed the locations of the 61 branches it will close in Portugal as part of its restructuring plan, 18 of which are in the capital Lisbon, Público writes.


* National Bank of Greece SA reported full-year 2016 profit after tax from continuing operations of €53 million, compared to a loss of €2.49 billion in 2015. Fourth-quarter after-tax profit from continuing operations was €73 million, up from €6 million in the third quarter.

* Alpha Bank AE reported a fourth-quarter 2016 profit attributable to shareholders of €20.1 million, down from a restated €41.2 million in the previous quarter. For the full year 2016, it posted profit attributable to shareholders of €42.3 million, compared to a restated year-ago loss of €1.37 billion.

* BPER Banca SpA CEO Alessandro Vandelli said the bank is in discussions with UnipolSai Assicurazioni SpA regarding a potential insurance partnership and has no interest in a deal with its banking unit Unipol Banca SpA, MF writes.

* An Italian court acquitted S&P Global Ratings and five of its current and former managers who had been charged with market manipulation related to past downgrades of the country's sovereign debt, Reuters reports. A former Fitch Ratings analyst was also acquitted.


* While Swedbank AB (publ) Chairman Lars Idermark was not among the numerous board members who were replaced at the lender's March 30 annual general meeting, several shareholders are planning to replace him at next year's AGM, according to Svenska Dagbladet, which points out that Idermark was vice chairman when the bank's board approved several controversial real estate deals.


* Earnings of central European banks are expected to grow faster than those of their western peers over the next two years thanks to improving loan portfolios, hikes in interest rates and stronger economic growth, Reuters writes, citing various analysts.

* Jerome Vacher, the IMF's resident representative in Ukraine, said the fund will consider the disbursement of about $1 billion in financial assistance to the country, the Financial Times writes.

* Andreas Böger was appointed CFO at mBank SA, replacing Christoph Heins, who resigned from the post, news agency PAP reports.

* Having posted an IFRS net loss of 58.9 billion Russian rubles for 2016 due to growing loan loss provisions, JSC Russian Agricultural Bank will be recapitalized by the Russian state to the tune of 30 billion rubles in 2017, Kommersant reports.


Asia-Pacific: US official says heist state-backed; China Construction 2016 profit up 1.45%

Middle East & Africa: Gordhan sacked; seeking Chase Bank buyers; Hapoalim, Leumi results

Latin America: Banco Patagonia IPO still in play; Brazil plans 42B reais spending freeze

North America: Synovus may buy Cabela's card portfolio; merchants get partial win on swipe fees

North America Insurance: Ryan unwilling to engage with Democrats; Minnesota reinsurance bill up for vote


Bailout delays threaten financial sector, Greek economy, Alpha Bank warns: The uncertainty caused by negotiations over Greece's bailout is causing an uptick in bad loans and a deterioration in the wider economy, Alpha Bank executives said.

PZU's planned foreign expansion seen as unlikely by analysts: Poland's PZU would like to derive up to a quarter of its profits from foreign operations, but with its excess capital going on a bank acquisition, analysts are convinced the firm will more likely focus on the domestic market.

Lloyd's of London says new EU base in Brussels will cost 'tens of millions': Lloyd's of London's CFO John Parry said the "bandwidth and skill" of the Belgian regulator was a key determinant in its decision to opt for Brussels as the location of the insurance marketplace's EU subsidiary after Brexit.

European target for toxic loan reduction achievable in 2017, says NBG CEO: Targets set out by the ECB's Single Supervisory Mechanism for the reduction of nonperforming exposures in 2017 are "achievable," National Bank of Greece CEO Leonidas Fragkiadakis said.

David Hutter, Arno Maierbrugger, Danielle Rossingh, Esben Svendsen, Beata Fojcik, Thanasis Kakalis, Ali Kayalar, Heather O'Brian, Stephanie Salti, Praxilla Trabattoni and Mariana Aldano contributed to this report.

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