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Australians with Credit Suisse accounts at risk; Visa eyes Philippine expansion

* The Australian Taxation Office said Australians holding secret Swiss bank accounts with Credit Suisse Group AG are susceptible to criminal prosecution following an international probe into undeclared offshore cash, The Australian reported. The authority is contacting 346 Australians with such accounts as part of an operation led by Dutch authorities that led to raids on the bank's European offices.

* Visa Inc. is looking to expand its presence in unbanked areas of the Philippines by offering cashless transactions, BusinessWorld reported, citing Stuart Tomlinson, Visa country manager for the Philippines and Guam.

* Singapore-based ride-hailing service Grab agreed to acquire Kudo, an Indonesian online payment startup firm, and will integrate the latter with its own proprietary mobile payments platform, GrabPay. Grab did not disclose the deal value.

* Credit Suisse appointed former Deutsche Bank AG senior equities executives in Asia-Pacific, Neil Hosie and Patrick Kelly, Bloomberg News reported, citing a person familiar with the matter. Hosie was named Asia-Pacific head of equities, while Kelly was named Asia-Pacific head of equity client trading and execution.

GREATER CHINA

* The People's Bank of China injected 497 billion yuan into the country's banking system via its medium-term lending facility operations and 121.99 billion yuan through its short-term lending facility operations in March, Reuters reported. The central bank also lifted the interest rates for both MLF and SLF operations during the month.

* Taiwan's central bank said lending extended by Taiwanese banks to the U.S. hit a record high at the end of 2016 on the back of a recovery in the U.S. economy and a stronger U.S. dollar, the Taipei Times reported. However, the banks' exposure to China has fallen, reflecting slowing growth and the yuan's weakness against the dollar.

* The Life Insurance Association of Taiwan said the island's life insurance industry's total premium income increased 11.1% year over year to NT$3.05 trillion in 2016, the island's Central News Agency reported. However, Taiwan Ratings expects the sector's premium income growth rate in 2017 to reach only the median of those achieved in 2016.

JAPAN AND KOREA

* Overseas acquisitions by Japanese companies reached record levels in fiscal 2016, The Sankei Shimbun reported. According to M&A advisor RECOF, the number of overseas M&A increased 5.7% year over year to 627 cases, while the total purchase price increased 33.3% to a record ¥10.91 trillion.

* Makoto Takashima, the newly appointed president of Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp., said the company would step up its debit business in the U.S., Asia and Europe, with an aim to among the top 10 companies in all regional markets in three to five years, Bloomberg News reported.

* Aichi prefecture, Japan-based Nishio Shinkin Bank has signed a comprehensive partnership agreement with Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Co. Ltd. to boost regional development, The Nikkei reported.

* KEB Hana Bank will shut down its financial services May 5 as the bank upgrades its computer network system the same day, the Korea Economic Daily reported.

ASEAN

* KASIKORNBANK PCL has maintained its lending growth target for 2017 to between 4.5% and 5% while rising nonperforming loans — particularly among small and medium-sized enterprises — remained a cause for concern, Krungthep Turakij reported, citing President Kattiya Indaravijaya.

* Land & Houses Bank PCL introduced a fee-free mortgage product with a 10-year fixed interest rate of 4.45% for customers of real estate developments by Land and Houses, Manager Daily reported.

* PT Bank Mega Tbk is aiming for a credit card business growth of 5% in 2017, which amounts to 29% of total loans in 2016, Infobank reported.

* Malayan Banking Bhd. expects internet banking transactions to increase by 50% in 2017 to 25 billion ringgit, supported by its banking application and continued growth momentum, Berita Harian reported, citing Chief Strategy Officer Michael Foong.

* Separately, The Star reported that Maybank CEO and Group President Abdul Farid Alias has been appointed as president commissioner of PT Bank Maybank Indonesia Tbk.

SOUTH ASIA

* B.P. Kanungo has officially taken over as the Reserve Bank of India's deputy governor with a tenure of three years, the Press Trust of India reported. Kanungo has been with the central bank since 1982 and has recently served as its executive director.

* A total of 2,800 employees of the former associate banks of State Bank of India — State Bank of Bikaner & Jaipur, State Bank of Hyderabad, State Bank of Mysore, State Bank of Patiala and State Bank of Travancore have opted for the bank's voluntary retirement scheme so far, following the completion of their merger , The Hindu Business Line reported, citing SBI Chairman Arundhati Bhattacharya.

* State Bank of India has also cut its base rate by 15 basis points to 9.10%, effective April 1, while HDFC Bank Ltd. reduced its base rate by 25 basis points to 9%, Mint reported.

* Karnataka Bank Ltd. is aiming for a revenue of 1.1 trillion Indian rupees for the 2017-2018 fiscal year, while it reduced its marginal cost of the funds-based lending rate by 25 to 55 basis points, effective April 1, The Hindu Business Line reported.

AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND

* The Australian Securities and Investments Commission will conduct a targeted surveillance of banks' and mortgage brokers' handling of interest-only loans, in a move that widens a crackdown on interest-only lending, The Australian reported. The watchdog said eight banks, including Commonwealth Bank of Australia, National Australia Bank Ltd. and Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd., will undergo remediation programs to fix poor lending practices.

* More than 2 million Australians are likely to set up their own funds within 15 years on the back of recent superannuation changes pushing for self-managed super funds, The Australian reported, citing Andrea Slattery, CEO of the Self Managed Superannuation Fund Association.

* Eva Zileli, head of group funding at National Australia Bank, said the likely loss of Australia's AAA credit rating might lead to new demand for the debt of the country's big four banks, as higher-yielding paper pulls new investors, Bloomberg News reported.

IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD

Middle East & Africa: Gulf banks close merger; Fitch warns of SA review; Togo banks to merge

Europe: Deutsche Bank fined again; Credit Suisse in client tax probe; Novo Banco sold

Latin America: Political unrest in Venezuela, Paraguay; Banco del Bajío revives IPO plan

North America: Lone Star wins Novo Banco bid; Apollo reportedly vying with HNA for HSH Nordbank

North America Insurance: Trump renews healthcare push; reinsurance rate cuts slow during renewals

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

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