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Wells Fargo profits rise despite revenue drop

US banking giant Wells Fargo Tuesday reported a 10.5 percent rise in earnings as improving credit quality and growth in overall loans offset lower mortgage revenues. Wells Fargo, known as the nation's largest mortgage lender, said net income for the fourth quarter came in at $5.4 billion on revenues of $20.7 billion, up from $4.9 billion on revenues of $21.9 billion. That translated into per-share earnings of $1.00, two cents above analyst expectations.

Asia to lead world economies amid challenges, ADB says

The Asian Development Bank said Monday that Asia's role in leading the world economy will continue to grow in the coming decades despite short-term challenges. ADB President Takehiko Nakao said Asia accounted for about 20 percent of the global economy in 1990 and today accounts for nearly 30 percent, according to an ADB study, and by 2050 it could account for more than half of world production.

Bomb rocks Budapest bank, no injuries

A bomb exploded early Monday at a branch of an Italian-owned bank in the Hungarian capital Budapest, demolishing the facade but causing no injuries, police said. The explosion smashed windows in the area of the branch of CIB Bank, which is part of the Italian Intesa Sanpaolo group, and was heard over a kilometre away. Police have refused to comment on media reports of accounts by local residents of a motor cyclist leaving a package at the building just before the explosion. pmu/lc

Monte dei Paschi board meeting sets agenda for Italy's banks

By Silvia Aloisi MILAN (Reuters) - Much is at stake when the board of bailed-out bank Monte dei Paschi di Siena meets next Tuesday, including possible management resignations, after a charitable foundation forced it to postpone a vital $4 billion rights issue planned for this month. The clash between management and its biggest shareholder, the Fondazione Monte dei Paschi, highlights flaws in the ownership structure of many Italian lenders just as they prepare for the euro zone's industry-wide health checks.

Swiss private banking shaken up by key players' shift

The exclusive Swiss private banking sector has been revolutionised by key players Pictet, Lombard Odier, and Mirabaud, amid a tough new regulatory environment and a crackdown on tax cheats. On January 1, the elite trio radically changed their business model by ditching the near-unique status of Swiss private banks and transforming themselves into operations almost like any other. Switzerland's two-century-old private banking sector has been based on rules which make the wealthy managing partners personally responsible for the money they manage for rich clients.

Standard Chartered bank says finance chief to leave

Standard Chartered, the Asia-focused emerging markets bank, announced on Thursday that its finance chief will leave later this year under a wide overhaul of the group. Finance director Richard Meddings will step down from the board at the end of June after seven years in the post, the London-based lender announced in a statement. His successor was not announced. Standard Chartered added that it would integrate its wholesale banking and consumer banking businesses from the start of April, and has appointed Mike Rees as deputy chief executive to run the combined division.

Singapore's OCBC bank in talks to buy Hong Kong lender

Singapore's Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp (OCBC) said Monday it was in exclusive talks to acquire Hong Kong's Wing Hang Bank, in a move that could give it greater access to the Chinese market. Dow Jones Newswires said a potential deal could value the Hong Kong lender at more than $5.0 billion. OCBC said in a statement to the Singapore Exchange it signed an "exclusivity agreement" on December 31 with the substantial shareholders of Wing Hang.

Swiss banks Lombard Odier and VP Bank sign up to U.S. tax deal

ZURICH (Reuters) - Lombard Odier & Cie and VP Bank (Switzerland) on Friday became the latest Swiss banks to say they would work with U.S. officials in a crackdown on lenders suspected of helping wealthy Americans evade taxes through hidden offshore accounts. Unlisted Geneva-based Lombard Odier with 203 billion Swiss francs ($227 billion) in client assets is the biggest privately-held firm so far to say publicly it will take part in a Swiss government-brokered scheme to make amends for aiding tax evasion.

Swiss banks Lombard Odier and VP Bank sign up to U.S. tax deal

ZURICH (Reuters) - Lombard Odier & Cie and VP Bank (Switzerland) on Friday became the latest Swiss banks to say they would work with U.S. officials in a crackdown on lenders suspected of helping wealthy Americans evade taxes through hidden offshore accounts. Unlisted Geneva-based Lombard Odier with 203 billion Swiss francs ($227 billion) in client assets is the biggest privately-held firm so far to say publicly it will take part in a Swiss government-brokered scheme to make amends for aiding tax evasion.

IntesaSanpaolo investor denies plan to buy Monte Paschi stake

TURIN (Reuters) - Compagnia Sanpaolo, a charitable banking foundation that owns 9.7 percent in Italian bank Intesa Sanpaolo <ISP.MI>, said on Monday it had no initiative underway to invest in troubled lender Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena <BMPS.MI>. Italian daily La Repubblica reported that Compagnia Sanpaolo, together with two other banking foundations and a group of investors, was in talks with Monte dei Paschi's top shareholder to buy a stake in the Tuscan lender.
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