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Morning Briefing

Morning Briefing

Standard Chartered is preparing to become the first major foreign bank to open a separately capitalised subsidiary in India, according to the Financial Times.

Citing people familiar with the matter, the newspaper said the bank could seek Reserve Bank of India permission for the move in 2016 with the subsidiary up and running about two years later. If the subsidiary goes ahead, StanChart would be the only one of the "big three" foreign lenders operating in India (the other two are HSBC and Citigroup) to agree to regulatory requests to set up subsidiary operations.

Also in India, the country's second-largest lender, Bank of Baroda, has suspended a senior official and is investigating a $53.6 million bill discounting fraud. The state-owned bank has referred the matter to the central bank, with an unnamed senior official telling the Economic Times: "There is a suspected fraud. An internal probe is on. If the money cannot be recovered, the bank will have to take a hit... An established company is involved, but I'm not in a position to disclose the name... We sensed something was wrong when a few bills bounced."

In Nepal, seven banks are to open 173 branchless banking points in underserved regions affected by last April's devastating earthquake. The seven commercial banks signed an agreement yesterday with the Sakchyam Access to Finance Programme to open the branchless banking outlets in 14 districts.

In the UK, the government is to offer a five percent discount on shares and bonus shares to ordinary investors as it seeks to finally return Lloyds Banking Group to the private sector.

State-owned Islamic Bank of Thailand is confident its search for a partner will conclude in the first quarter of 2016, with the government maintaining a 25 percent stake in the bank.

The bank is in talks with a number of financial institutions including some in the Middle East, according to its director and acting president Monchai Rattanasatien.

A fintech trade association, led by former Citi and UBS banker Jorge A Ortiz, has been set up in Mexico. FinTech Mexico includes some local fintech start-ups as well as major players such as MasterCard, Swift and Microsoft.

"The purpose is to offer its members and the general public an environment of open and transparent collaboration which will boost innovation of fintechs in Mexico, by using the collective knowledge and best practices of the industry, thus improving the financial services for everyone," Mr Ortiz said.

The governor of Nigeria's central bank, Godwin Emefiele, has said it would consider easing restrictions on foreign exchange transactions if there is a drop in demand for dollars. "CBN had little choice in imposing the curbs in order to preserve foreign reserves. Once we have achieved a result, we can allow ourselves to look at a freer market. I think it is working and you should be patient with us. Demand for foreign exchange has dropped," he said.

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