* At least 22 commercial banks in China have announced plans to split off their wealth management units from parent banks, the Financial Times reported. The China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission said earlier this month that this would help prevent business risks from infecting the parent lender.
* The Xiong'an branch of Bank of Communications Co. Ltd. was set up in Hebei province's Xiong'An New Area, a location designated for significant development and investment within the wider Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, Caijing reported.
* Taiwan's Financial Supervisory Commission said that starting from Jan 1, 2019, the sales process of investment insurance policies sold to people older than 70 years old should be recorded to ensure the appropriateness of the transaction, Taiwan's United Evening News reported. Some insurers said they prefer to make audio recordings, as recording video would be disruptive to some people.
JAPAN AND KOREA
* Japan's Financial Services Agency ordered Toyo Securities Co. Ltd. to correct its sales practices, citing routine misrepresentation of investment risk by employees marketing U.S. stocks to elderly customers, Tokyo's The Nikkei reported.
* South Korea-based KR Futures Co. Ltd. will rename itself KR Investment Securities Co. Ltd., The Chosun Ilbo reported. The company obtained a debt securities trading and brokerage license from the Financial Services Commission on Dec. 19.
* Shinhan Financial Group Co. Ltd. will replace CEOs at seven subsidiaries, including at Shinhan Bank Co. Ltd., Shinhan Investment Corp. and Orange Life Insurance Co. Ltd., The Chosun Ilbo reported.
* Thailand's Ministry of Finance said 350 pico-finance entities have begun operations in 64 provinces as of the end of November, the country's Post Today reported. The government's pico-finance push aims to provide loans to help low-income people avoid resorting to informal lending or loan sharks.
* Thailand-based Krung Thai Bank PCL expects the Thai economy to expand by around 4% in 2019 amid volatile Thai financial and capital markets conditions, Post Today reported. The bank also expects its credit growth to be 5% and wants to lower its nonperforming loans to less than 100 billion baht.
* Bank Indonesia has approved the merger of PT Bank Tabungan Pensiunan Nasional Tbk and PT Bank Sumitomo Mitsui Indonesia, Kompas reported.
* RAM Ratings reaffirmed Malayan Banking Bhd.'s ASEAN and national-scale financial institution ratings at AAA/Stable/P1, the Malay Mail reported. The agency noted that the credit quality of Maybank's loan portfolio is expected to withstand pressure on its asset quality.
* Indian private sector lender Axis Bank Ltd. appointed Rajiv Anand, executive director for retail banking, as executive director for wholesale banking, effective Dec. 21.
* State Bank of India plans to raise 20.45 billion rupees through the issuance of Basel III-compliant bonds. The bonds will carry a coupon of 9.37% per annum, and will have a call option after five years or any anniversary date thereafter.
* The merger scheme of Bank of Baroda, Vijaya Bank and Dena Bank is expected to be finalized by the end of December, the Press Trust of India reported.
* Bangladesh-based Farmers Bank Ltd. will be renamed Padma Bank to undergo an image revamp as the lender deals with financial irregularities and alleged corruption, The Daily Star reported, citing bank Chairman Chowdhury Nafeez Sarafat.
AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND
* The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority authorized China Everbright Bank Co. Ltd. as a foreign deposit-taking institution.
* Commonwealth Bank of Australia will begin offering Chinese payment platform Alipay as a payment solution in stores across Australia, Xinhua News Agency reported.
* IOOF Holdings Ltd. reached an agreement with the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority on proposed license conditions to address governance issues raised by the regulator. APRA on Dec. 7 had announced a number of actions against IOOF entities, directors and executives for failing to act in the best interests of superannuation members.
* QBE Insurance Group Ltd. appointed Fred Eppinger as a nonexecutive director, effective Jan. 1, 2019.
Hoi Shan Chan, Sally Wang, Jonathan Cheah, Jaekwon Lim and Santibhap Ussavasodhi contributed to this report.
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