Asia policymakers move to calm nerves after Credit Suisse takeover

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by Reuters

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Asia policymakers move to calm nerves after Credit Suisse takeover

SYDNEY, March 20 (Reuters) - Asian policymakers on Monday moved to calm investor nerves after announcements of a historic Swiss-backed takeover of troubled Credit Suisse and a coordinated move by major central banks to avert a banking crisis.

As markets remained fearful of the risk of financial stress jumping across borders, Japan's chief cabinet secretary, Hirokazu Matsuno, said the country's banking system was stable and Japan would see no contagion from the U.S. and Europe.

He also welcomed Sunday's decision by top central banks, including the Bank of Japan (BOJ), to bolster the global flow of cash by expanding an existing swap line to ensure lenders would have the dollars they needed to operate.

That move came as UBS Group AG (UBSG.S) agreed to pay 3 billion Swiss francs ($3.2 billion) for 167-year-old Credit Suisse Group AG (CSGN.S) and assume up to $5.4 billion in losses. Swiss regulators orchestrated the deal.

MSCI's broadest index of Asian shares (.MIAP00000PUS) was down 1.4%, and European stock futures were generally 0.4% to 0.6% lower. Although the two moves by authorities had eased immediate fears of contagion, bank shares remained under downward pressure.

Japanese policymakers said domestic banks had enough capital buffers to absorb losses from various external factors, including risks from the collapse of U.S. lenders.

Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) Assistant Governor Christopher Kent said additional stringent liquidity and capital requirements had made the global banking system stronger than it had been a decade ago.

"What we are talking about here is a few institutions that were poorly managed and did not meet those higher standards that have been imposed on almost all banks globally and on Australian banks," he said, referring to banks in strife overseas.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) said it expected the takeover to have no impact on the stability of the Singapore banking system. Credit Suisse would continue to operate in the city-state without restrictions, MAS added.

"MAS will remain in close contact with FINMA, CS and UBS as the takeover is executed, to facilitate an orderly transition, including addressing any impact on employment," the central bank said in a statement, referring to the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority and the two Swiss banks.

Hong Kong's Securities and Futures Commission and the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, the de-facto central bank, said Credit Suisse's operations in the city would be open for business as normal, with customers able to access their deposits.

Huang Tien-mu, head of Taiwan's Financial Supervisory Commission, struck a cautious note.

He told lawmakers in parliament there was currently no way to confirm that "the crisis has passed", even after the deal for UBS to take over Credit Suisse and after major central bank moves to restore confidence.

Huang said he had confidence in Taiwan's financial industry but was still keeping an eye on changes in international financial markets.

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