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South Africa's rating woes deepen; UAE ups measures to support bank lending

* The Basel Committee on Banking Supervision, a global group of banking regulators, set out several additional measures to curb the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on the global banking system, saying the move will support banks' lending to the real economy and provide further operational capacity for lenders and regulators to respond to immediate financial stability priorities.

* The World Bank approved $1.9 billion in the first batch of emergency funding to support 25 coronavirus-affected countries, including $82.6 million and $47.2 million for Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of Congo, respectively.


* The Central Bank of the UAE reduced reserve requirements for demand deposits by 50% as part of further measures to support the economy amid the coronavirus outbreak. The move will inject roughly 61 billion dirhams of liquidity to support banks' lending and liquidity management, the regulator noted. Reuters covered this.

* The Central Bank of the UAE appointed Alvarez & Marsal Holdings LLC to advise it on debt and operational issues at UAE Exchange Centre LLC, insiders told Bloomberg News.

* Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank PJSC has applied to the U.K. High Court to appoint joint administrators for U.K.-based hospital operator NMC Health PLC, saying the move is aimed at protecting the future of the struggling company and its units.

* Several financial firms in the UAE, including Emirates NBD Bank PJSC, Dubai Islamic Bank PJSC and Mashreqbank PSC, revealed their exposures to NMC Health's local unit NMC Healthcare LLC. Emirates NBD's total direct exposure to NMC stands at 747.3 million dirhams, while DIB's amounts to roughly $425 million as of March 31.

* Central Bank of Kuwait Governor Mohammad al-Hashel said local lenders can continue to pay out dividends for 2019, adding that it is still too early to ask lenders to suspend distributions for this year, Reuters wrote, citing Al Arabiya TV. He added that banks' average capital adequacy was above 18%, exceeding the 10.5% minimum requirement.

* Saudi Arabian King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud ordered the disbursement of 9 billion riyals to partly cover the wages of private-sector employees affected by the coronavirus crisis, Saudi Press Agency reported.

* Capital Intelligence Ratings downgraded Bahrain's long-term foreign- and local-currency ratings to BB- from BB and affirmed the sovereign's short-term foreign- and local-currency ratings at B, with negative outlooks on all the ratings.

* Fitch Ratings affirmed the long- and short-term issuer default ratings of Bahrain-based Investcorp Holdings BSC and its related entities at BB/B and changed the outlook to stable from positive.

* A.M. Best affirmed the B++ financial strength rating and the "bbb+" long-term issuer credit rating of Qatar Islamic Insurance Group QPSC and revised the outlooks to positive from stable.

* Qatar Development Bank QSCC kick-started a national program to provide guarantees to local lenders to facilitate interest-free loans to companies hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic, Reuters reported, citing state news agency QNA.

* The Qatari government hired banks including Standard Chartered PLC, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Barclays PLC and Deutsche Bank AG to sell bonds of over $5 billion as early as this week to boost funds amid the coronavirus outbreak and oil-price war, insiders told Bloomberg News.


* Lebanon's central bank established a foreign exchange unit to centralize the price of dollars for money changers amid a shortage in hard currency, Reuters reported. Separately, the regulator allowed the withdrawal of deposits of $3,000 or less in Lebanese pounds at a market rate.

* Lebanon's banking association said local commercial banks will work with the central bank to come up with a daily exchange rate for dollars under the new foreign exchange unit being launched by the regulator, Reuters wrote.

* Meanwhile, Lebanese President Michel Aoun is set to ask for financial aid from envoys of the International Support Group for Lebanon to help fight the coronavirus crisis, The Daily Star wrote.

* S&P Global Ratings affirmed Morocco's long- and short-term foreign- and local-currency sovereign credit ratings at BBB-/A-3, with a stable outlook.


* West Africa's BCEAO central bank has authorized banks operating within the eight-nation zone to postpone repayment schedules on credit they have granted to corporate customers for three months, according to Agence Ecofin.

* The IMF's executive board completed the sixth and final review of Togo's economic performance under a program supported by an extended credit facility arrangement, allowing the disbursement of roughly $131.3 million to the country. The IMF will also disburse about $21.1 million to Sierra Leone, following the completion of the nation's performance under an ECF-supported program.

* The Nigerian government said it plans to set up a 500 billion naira crisis intervention fund to upgrade healthcare facilities to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, Reuters reported.

* The board of Kenyan financial services group Britam Holdings PLC proposed a dividend of 25 cents per share for 2019, marking the end of a payout freeze that began last year due to losses, Business Daily Africa reported.


* Fitch lowered South Africa's credit rating further into junk territory, citing the impact of the coronavirus crisis on the domestic economy and public finances, including government debt. The rating agency downgraded the sovereign's long-term foreign- and local-currency issuer default ratings to BB from BB+ and affirmed its short-term ratings at B, with a negative outlook.

* The Bank of Zambia announced a package of measures aimed at protecting the stability of the financial system and curbing the negative effects of the COVID-19 shock on the economy. The measures include the establishment of a targeted medium-term refinancing facility with an initial amount of 10 billion kwachas to provide liquidity for financial service providers, Zambia Daily Mail noted.

* Moody's downgraded Zambia's long-term issuer ratings to Ca from Caa2 and revised the outlook on to stable from negative, saying the government's capacity to service its debt has weakened further over the past year due to a significant deterioration of its fiscal metrics caused by weak governance.

* The IMF's executive board approved a disbursement of roughly $166.0 million to Madagascar to help the country fight the coronavirus outbreak.

* Malawi President Peter Mutharika said he and his cabinet will take a 10% pay cut and redirect the funds to address the COVID-19 outbreak, Reuters wrote. Mutharika's made the statement as he announced several measures aimed at protecting small and medium-sized businesses.

* Moody's affirmed the Baa2 issuer and long-term deposit ratings of Mauritius Commercial Bank Ltd. and the Baa3 long-term deposit ratings of Absa Bank (Mauritius) Ltd. and changed the outlooks on the ratings to negative from stable. The rating agency also affirmed SBM Bank (Mauritius) Ltd.'s Baa3 issuer and long-term deposit ratings and P-3 short-term deposit ratings, among other affirmations.

* Fitch lowered Gabon's long-term local- and foreign-currency issuer default ratings to CCC from B, among other downgrades, saying risks to the government's capacity to repay debt have risen significantly due to liquidity pressure caused by slumping oil prices.


Asia-Pacific: India assures state-owned banks of support; Indonesia gives central bank powers

Deza Mones, Henni Abdelghani, Pádraig Belton and Mariana Aldano contributed to this report.

The Daily Dose Middle East and Africa has an editorial deadline of 5 a.m. London time. Some external links may require a subscription. Links are current as of publication time, and we are not responsible if those links are unavailable later.

This S&P Global Market Intelligence news article may contain information about credit ratings issued by S&P Global Ratings. Descriptions in this news article were not prepared by S&P Global Ratings.