* The ECB is unlikely to hike interest rates until mid-2020, Reuters reported, citing current money market pricing. ECB Governing Council member Ardo Hansson told Bloomberg News that the central bank's guidance that it will keep rates unchanged at least through the summer of this year may still be realistic.
* Total economic losses from natural disasters in 2018 amounted to $160 billion, with insured losses of $80 billion, according to a Munich Re report.
UK AND IRELAND
* U.K. lawmakers approved a measure seeking to curb the government's ability to raise taxes in the event that Britain exits the EU without a deal, creating a new hurdle to a no-deal Brexit, the BBC reported. The U.K. is set to hold a vote on its Brexit deal in parliament on Jan. 15, Reuters reported.
* The U.K.'s Financial Conduct Authority outlined plans to continue regulating European financial firms based in the U.K. if the country leaves the EU on March 29 without an implementation period in place.
* U.K. digital bank Monzo Bank Ltd. is set to name Gary Hoffman as its new nonexecutive chairman and replace Denise Kingsmill, according to Sky News.
* Curtis Banks Group PLC CFO Paul Tarran will step down and resign from the group's board by the end of 2019.
* U.K.-based Merian Global Investors (UK) Ltd. named Mark Gregory CEO, replacing Richard Buxton, who will remain with the company as head of U.K. equities and manager of Merian's UK Alpha Fund.
* Randall & Quilter Investment Holdings Ltd. unit Accredited Insurance (Europe) Ltd. completed the acquisition of MPS Risk Solutions Ltd. from London-based The Medical Protection Society Ltd.
GERMANY, SWITZERLAND AND AUSTRIA
* Deutsche Bank AG is looking to slash its bonus pool by about 10% in a bid to cut costs, insiders told Bloomberg News. The German lender's 2018 bonuses will reportedly be paid more selectively in an effort to retain top performers, with the final amount subject to change depending on the bank's fourth-quarter results.
* Landesbank Hessen-Thüringen Girozentrale unit Frankfurter Bankgesellschaft (Schweiz) AG is expanding operations in Germany through a new branch in Hamburg, Börsen-Zeitung reported.
* German lender Quirin Privatbank AG will hire around 50 financial advisers by 2021-end amid plans to boost growth by bringing in new investors, CEO Karl Matthäus Schmidt told Bloomberg News. Quirin, which aims to grow its AUM to €5 billion from €3.5 billion within three years, could possibly sell a stake in robo-adviser unit Quirion, Schmidt added.
* A former UBS Group AG employee facing charges of stealing client data and selling it to German officials failed to appear for a second day at a Swiss criminal trial, Bloomberg News wrote.
FRANCE AND BENELUX
* Axa unit AXA Investment Managers SA is considering selling its 49% stake in BOI AXA Mutual Fund, its India-based mutual fund joint venture with Bank of India, insiders told The Economic Times.
* A computer breakdown at BNP Paribas SA yesterday left some customers unable to withdraw money at cash dispensers and make payments, according to Les Echos. The bank ruled out the likelihood of a cyberattack.
* Investment firm Cerberus has finalized the takeover of Banco Espirito Santo et Vénétie, according to L'Agefi.
* Dutch insurer NN Group NV has finalized its acquisitions of the Slovak and Czech units of rival Aegon NV, De Telegraaf reported. NN Group reportedly paid €155 million for both units.
* Dutch money transporter Securcash BV has been declared bankrupt by a Dutch court, Het Financieele Dagblad reported. The Dutch central bank has set up an emergency fund to keep SecurCash' trucks on the road to pick up cash from retailers.
SPAIN AND PORTUGAL
* Former Bankia SA Chairman Rodrigo Rato blamed Spain's central bank for mishandling the creation of the Spanish lender, Reuters reported. Rato made the comments at a trial in which he and three other former members of Bankia's board are accused of fraud.
* Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA has sold its 30% stake in the real estate company Avantespacia to the investment firm Inveravante, Expansión wrote.
* In a letter to employees, Novo Banco SA CEO António Ramalho warned employees that the state-rescued lender's problems will persist in 2019 albeit in a "smaller dimension," Dinheiro Vivo reported. He said the bank was still struggling with the legacy of failed predecessor Banco Espírito Santo SA, but that it addressed three major problems in 2018 with the sale of bad loans and real estate assets and the normalization of financing costs. The ECB, however, had not eased capital requirements for the bank, Jornal de Negócios noted.
ITALY AND GREECE
* Italy's UniCredit SpA and Banco BPM SpA and France's BNP Paribas SA are interested in potentially acquiring Banca Carige SpA provided that the struggling Italian lender reduces its bad loans and borrowing costs, an insider told Bloomberg News. Carige is also reportedly in talks with seven other potential buyers.
* Struggling Italian lender Banca Carige will use government-backed guarantees on bond issues to support its medium-term funding and that it will only tap a state-backed precautionary recapitalization as a last resort. The bank aims to reduce its nonperforming exposure ratio to 5% to 10% of total lending. The Italian government will guarantee up to €3 billion of newly issued Banca Carige bonds, the duration of which will have to be between two months and seven years, MF reported. The coverage of the guarantees will come from a special €1.3 billion fund set up by the government to cover potential costs of the guarantees, Il Sole 24 Ore added. Italy also allotted €1 billion for a potential precautionary recapitalization, Reuters noted.
* Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said the government's support for Banca Carige is temporary, Reuters wrote.
* Topdanmark A/S and Danica Pensionsforsikring A/S will terminate their insurance products distribution agreement at the end of 2019, FinansWatch reported. That agreement covers the distribution of nonlife insurance products.
* The National Bank of Romania yesterday kept its monetary policy rate unchanged at 2.50%. Governor Mugur Isărescu said a calmer outlook for 2019 allowed the central bank to keep the rate on hold, but warned that the new tax on banks' financial assets the government introduced at 2018-end could monetary policy less efficient and flexible, Reuters noted.
* TBC Bank Group PLC said unit JSC TBC Bank has been fined roughly 1 million Georgian lari by Georgia's central bank over transactions allegedly not in compliance with Georgian law related to the regulation of conflicts of interest.
* Beta ETF WIG20TR, the first exchange-traded fund fully established under Polish law, debuted on the Warsaw Stock Exchange, Parkiet reported.
* The Polish Association of Individual Investors, acting on behalf of almost 300 minority shareholders jointly holding a 1.5% stake in financially troubled debt collector GetBack SA, asked prosecutors to launch proceedings against the company and its representatives, arguing that their actions led to the detrimental treatment of the shareholders, Puls Biznesu wrote.
* Robert Kuraszkiewicz was appointed president of the management board at Bank Pocztowy SA, Rzeczpospolita said.
IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD
Asia-Pacific: Citigroup to exit China securities JV; Australia proposes superannuation reforms
Middle East & Africa: UAE lender to swap Abraaj debt for fund stakes; PE firms invest in Prime Bank
Latin America: Prisma to go public; Brazil economy seen to grow 2.53% in 2019
North America: Trump's pick withdraws from Fed board nomination; First Financial to buy HopFed
Global Insurance: Everest Re CEO retiring; 2018 nat cat losses $160B; Aussie hail to dent ILS
NOW FEATURED ON S&P GLOBAL MARKET INTELLIGENCE
ECB rate hikes will boost European bank stocks in 2019: Despite facing a steep drop in market value in 2018, lenders in Europe may have the chance to recover in 2019, according to analysts and investment specialists.
Banco Popular bondholders file new suit against EU body in European Court: Bondholders who lost money in failing Spanish bank Banco Popular Español SA have filed a lawsuit in the European Court of Justice against EU authorities for deciding not to conduct a definitive valuation of the lender.
Sheryl Obejera, Ed Meza, Danielle Rossingh, Gerard O'Dwyer, Beata Fojcik, Yael Schrage, Stephanie Salti, Sophie Davies and Helen Popper contributed to this report.
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