This weekly article offers a selectionof our top banking stories published throughout the week.
M&A picking up
Dealmaking in the Asia-Pacific banking industry seems to have picked up the pace inthe week of April 4. While the week started with statements from Philippines-based BDO Unibank Inc., Bankof the Philippine Islands and RizalCommercial Banking Corp. denyinga report that the lenders were in talks over possible M&A, several deals werereported toward the end of the week. The transactions include Bank of Singapore Ltd.'s acquisition of the wealth and investment management businessof Barclays Bank Plc inSingapore and Hong Kong.
Moreover,New Zealand Post Group receivedoffers from two state firms for a stake in Kiwi Group Holdings Ltd., owner of and its associatedbusinesses, such as Kiwi Wealth Management and Kiwi Insurance. New Zealand's twomajor investment funds, New Zealand Superannuation Fund and Accident CompensationCorp., offered to buy 25% and 20%, respectively.
Australia'sMyState Ltd. is to engage in M&A activity.The lender was reported to be up for sale or on the lookout for a merger partner.
Japan'sMitsubishi UFJ Trust & BankingCorp. is also seekingoverseas acquisition opportunities in the fund administration business. However,details about the bank's potential acquisitions were not disclosed. The bank's affiliate,Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ Ltd.,was also reportedly lookingat further acquisitions in the U.S. and Asia in a bid to become a leading globalcommercial bank.
Meanwhile,South Korea's Hyundai Securities Co.Ltd. may have to sellits 10% stake in Internet bank K-Bank if KBFinancial Group Inc. acquires a controlling stake in the company. AKB Financial official said that if the group acquires a controlling stake in HyundaiSecurities, the company may ask the brokerage to shed its stake in K-Bank and fullycommit to online bank Kakao Bank, which KB Financial has an interest in throughKB Kookmin Bank.
In addition,two deals were completed in the week of April 4. Bank of East Asia Ltd. completed the sale of subsidiaries Tung Shing Holdings Co.Ltd. and BEA Wealth Management Services(Taiwan) Ltd. to units of SinoPacFinancial Holdings Co. Ltd., while South Korea's the sale of a package ofa 43% stake in KDB Daewoo SecuritiesCo. Ltd. and the whole of KDBAsset Management Co. Ltd. to a consortium of Mirae Asset Securities Co. Ltd. and Mirae Asset Global Investments Co. Ltd.
Australianbanks continue to face legal proceedings and disciplinary actions for complianceviolations and other malpractices. During the week, the Australian Securities andInvestments Commission initiatedlegal proceedings against WestpacBanking Corp. over the lender's alleged involvement in manipulatingthe nation's benchmark interest rate. The regulator had already taken legal actionagainst Australia & New ZealandBanking Group Ltd. for its alleged involvement in rigging the rate.
The regulatoralso imposed penaltiesamounting to A$493,000 on Westpac unit Capital Finance Australia Ltd. for breachingimportant consumer protection provisions relating to the repossession of motor vehicles.
In addition,an Australian parliamentary committee grilledsome of the country's major banks over their internal processes amid several casesof misconduct. Commonwealth Bank ofAustralia was questioned over its handling of whistleblowers, whileANZ faced questions over its stake in Malaysia's AmBank (M) Bhd., which is embroiled in a corruption scandalinvolving Malaysian state fund 1MDB.
* TheReserve Bank of India cutthe policy repo rate under the liquidity adjustment facility by 25 basis pointsto 6.5%. The central bank is also consideringissuing more types of differentiated banking licenses, in addition to other proposedchanges to India's banking structure.
* TheReserve Bank of Australia decided to maintainthe cash rate at 2%. The central bank said continued low inflationwould offer scope for easier policy, should that be appropriate to lend supportto demand.
* Chinais expected to soon permitbanks to convert up to 1 trillion yuan of bad debt into equity, with a plan approvedas soon as April. Moreover, the country's banking regulator asked banks to tighten risk controls at their foreign branchesafter some lenders came under scrutiny abroad for alleged cases of money laundering.
In other news
* isreportedly looking toopen its first overseas office in Laos in 2016.
* A courtin Indonesia rejectedStandard Chartered Plc'sdemand for repayment of a US$1 billion loan granted to Indonesian coal firm PT BorneoLumbung Energi & Metal Tbk.
* isseeking approval fromChina's banking regulator to inject US$200 million of capital into troubled Brazilianunit China Construction Bank (Brasil)Banco Múltiplo SA.
* ,also known as Nam A Bank, expectspretax profit to increase 19% to 300 billion dong in 2016 from the prior year.
* 5.35 billion rupees of capitalthrough a preferential allotment of equity shares to the Indian government.
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