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Zurich buying ANZ's life insurance biz; Spain sells 7% stake in Bankia

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Zurich buying ANZ's life insurance biz; Spain sells 7% stake in Bankia

* The Commodity Futures Trading Commission said futures commission merchants, swap dealers or introducing brokers do not need to register as commodity trading advisers under the EU's revised Markets in Financial Instruments Directive, or MiFID II, as long as the advice or research they provide is "solely incidental" to the futures merchants' or swap dealers' business or "solely in connection with" the introducing brokers' business.

* ECB Supervisory Board Chair Danièle Nouy told Público in an interview published yesterday that she expects to see a number of banking mergers taking place within countries and across borders as economic growth returns to the eurozone. Meanwhile, François Villeroy de Galhau, ECB Governing Council member and Banque de France governor, said "healthy and well-designed" cross-border mergers in Europe could improve financial stability and would make banks better able to diversify their risks, achieve economies of scale and become more efficient.

* ECB Governing Council member Ewald Nowotny called on the EU to consider regulating bitcoin, Reuters reported.

* UBS Group AG, Barclays Plc, Credit Suisse Group AG, KBC Group NV, SIX Group AG and Thomson Reuters are advancing an initiative to improve the quality of counterparty reference data through anonymous reconciliation with industry counterparts, using Ethereum smart contracts, ahead of the implementation of MiFID II on Jan. 3, 2018.

UK AND IRELAND

* Financial lobby group TheCityUK called for imminent clarity on what will happen to the London branches of European lenders that wish to continue operating in Britain after it leaves the EU, Reuters reported. Sam Woods, deputy governor for prudential regulation at the Bank of England, is due to clarify by 2017-end whether any London branch must re-apply for licenses or transform into a subsidiary of its European parent post-Brexit.

* London could lose 10,500 jobs on "day one" of Brexit, The Guardian and The Daily Telegraph reported, citing consultancy EY. Separately, U.K.-based banks could stop exit plans or even recall employees who have been moved to different locations in the EU should the U.K. be able to strike a deal to retain access to the European single market, senior bankers told the Financial Times.

* HSBC Holdings Plc said its five-year deferred prosecution agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice has expired, and the DOJ will file a motion with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York to dismiss charges deferred by the agreement. The deferred prosecution agreement was part of a $1.92 billion settlement with U.S. authorities in 2012 in connection with investigations regarding inadequate compliance with money-laundering and sanctions laws.

* Investec Group unit Investec Bank Ltd. has derivative exposures linked to South African furnishing and clothing group Steinhoff International Holdings NV's share price, which could have a potential impact of up to 3% to the group's posttax operating profit. Other banks with exposure to Steinhoff include BNP Paribas SA and Bank of America Corp.

* Aldermore Group Plc said most of its shareholders voted at a court and general meeting to approve South Africa-based FirstRand Ltd.'s offer to acquire the British challenger bank.

GERMANY, SWITZERLAND AND AUSTRIA

* Zurich Insurance Group AG agreed to buy Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd.'s life insurance business, OnePath Life Ltd., for $2.14 billion. The deal is expected to complete by 2018-end.

* UBS Group is selling its 15.8% stake in Bell Financial Group Ltd.

* EFG International AG completed the migration onto its groupwide IT platform of the remaining Swiss businesses in Ticino of BSI SA, marking the completion of the overall integration of BSI.

* Raiffeisen Gruppe Switzerland appointed Beat Hodel head of the bank's newly created risk and compliance department, effective Jan. 1, 2018.

* Vaudoise Assurances Holding SA COO Renato Morelli is leaving the company "due to differences over strategy and vision."

* Deutsche Bank AG CFO James von Moltke told Süddeutsche Zeitung in an interview that the bank is well prepared in terms of capitalization to cope with stricter capital rules under the Basel III regulations agreed last week.

* PERILS put its initial loss estimate for the insured property market from Storm Herwart, which mainly hit areas in Austria and Germany on Oct. 29, at €252 million.

* Austrian banks should avoid taking on too much risk and stay away especially from real estate lending as some developments in the residential mortgage market have raised red flags, the Austrian central bank said in its latest financial stability report.

FRANCE AND BENELUX

* Belfius Banque SA CEO Marc Raisière has said he proposed to merge the bank with telecom company Proximus, but Proximus CEO Dominique Leroy has said she is not interested, L'Echo wrote.

* Eurazeo SA is set to take a controlling 51% stake in private equity firm Idinvest, having entered into exclusive negotiations with Idinvest's majority shareholder Groupe IDI, Reuters reported, citing French newspaper Les Echos.

SPAIN AND PORTUGAL

* BFA Sociedad Tenedora de Acciones SAU, fully owned by Spanish bank restructuring fund FROB, sold a 7.0% stake in Bankia SA through a private placement with qualified investors for €818.3 million. BFA's stake in Bankia fell to 60.63% following the transaction.

ITALY AND GREECE

* UniCredit SpA confirmed its key targets for 2019 and said it will increase its dividend payout ratio for financial year 2019 to 30% from 20%, and further to 50% afterward once upcoming regulatory impacts are confirmed. The bank also signed agreements to sell down its FINO portfolio to below 20%.

* Former Intesa Sanpaolo SpA CEO Corrado Passera is assessing investor interest in a plan to raise up to €400 million to set up a special-purpose acquisition firm that will fund the development and restructuring of small and medium-sized enterprises and purchase their bad loans, insiders told Bloomberg News.

* Italy postponed a plan to transfer stakes in air traffic controller ENAV and energy group Eni SpA to Cassa depositi e prestiti SpA after European authorities raised doubts on whether the government should be shifting assets to a publicly owned entity, insiders told Reuters.

* Banca IFIS SpA bought €336 million in nonperforming loans in two separate transactions, the first from Intesa Sanpaolo and the second from an operator active in the Italian NPL sector, MF reported.

* Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena SpA is set to finalize by Friday the transfer to a special-purpose vehicle of €26 billion in bad loans, MF reported.

* Banca Popolare di Bari SCpA aims to convert into a joint stock company by mid-2018, Il Sole 24 Ore wrote.

* ChiantiBanca Credito Cooperativo SC shareholders decided to join the Iccrea Holding SpA umbrella organization, reversing a decision made in 2016 to join Iccrea's rival, Cassa Centrale Banca, MF reported.

NORDIC COUNTRIES

* Lind Invest A/S, owned by financier Henrik Lind, invested 160 million Danish kroner into Saxo Bank A/S in the wake of the financial crisis that struck the bank in January 2015, according to FinansWatch. The capital investment in Saxo Bank increased the Lind family's shareholding in the bank to 1.7%.

EASTERN EUROPE

* The Central Bank of the Russian Federation became the owner of 99.9% ordinary shares of Otkritie Financial Corp. Bank, as part of the lender's financial recovery and 456.2 billion Russian ruble recapitalization plan for the group.

* Bank Pekao SA completed the purchase of a 51% stake in Pioneer Pekao Investment Management from UniCredit in a €138 million deal, PAP reported.

* OTP Bank Nyrt. CEO Sándor Csányi said the bank would like to purchase another lender in Serbia if there is an opportunity to do so, Reuters reported. Csányi said OTP is interested in Komercijalna Banka a.d. Beograd, which could be put up for sale by the Serbian government in 2018, as well as other banks operating in the region.

* Vienna Insurance Group AG will merge its two Croatian brands, Erste osiguranje and Wiener osiguranje, at the end of April 2018 as part of the group's plans to strengthen and expand its bancassurance business.

IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD

Asia-Pacific: Zurich to buy ANZ's life insurance biz; Taiwan denies forex intervention

Middle East & Africa: Iran vows to pop up banks; Fitch downgrades Oman

Latin America: S&P cuts Venezuela debt ratings; Santander Mexico, bank unit OK merger

North America: US tax reform bill could hit foreign-owned banks; Banc of California sued

North America Insurance: Voya looks to sell annuity assets; commercial P&C rates declined 1.3% in Q3

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Leo Magno, Arno Maierbrugger, Danielle Rossingh, Gerard O'Dwyer, Beata Fojcik, Yael Schrage, Stephanie Salti, Praxilla Trabattoni and Helen Popper contributed to this report.

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