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Crédit Agricole unit sells stake in Banque Saudi Fransi; 2 Kenyan banks to merge

GULF COOPERATION COUNCIL

* Saudi Arabia's tax authority outlined new rules for calculating Islamic tax on banks, Bloomberg News wrote. The limits for taxable asset base was set to between four times and eight times of net profit, which is equivalent to a corridor of between 10% and 20% of a bank's net income, according to a Bloomberg Intelligence analyst.

* France-based Crédit Agricole Corporate & Investment Bank agreed to sell a 4.9% equity stake in Banque Saudi Fransi to a consortium led by U.S.-based investment holding company Ripplewood Advisors LLC. The deal was priced at 31.50 Saudi Arabian riyals per share, amounting to a total consideration of roughly 1.86 billion riyals.

* Moody's said Saudi Arabia's insurance sector could face a major shake-up following a proposal within the country's draft insurance law that seeks to increase insurers' minimum capital requirement to 500 million riyals from 100 million riyals currently, Thomson Reuters' Zawya wrote. The higher capital limits would either trigger consolidation or lead to smaller players exiting the country's insurance market by ceasing to write any new business and running down current books, according to Moody's analyst Mohammed Ali Londe.

* Al Ahlia Insurance Co. for Cooperative Insurance hired Falcom Financial Services Co. to serve as financial adviser for its potential capital reduction, Argaam reported. The Saudi insurer's board recently proposed to reduce its capital by 23.13% to offset accumulated losses, followed by a 127-million-riyal rights issue.

* The Qatar Financial Centre Regulatory Authority has barred First Abu Dhabi Bank PJSC from conducting any regulated activities — including deposit taking, providing credit facilities and arranging deals in investments — for new customers at its QFC branch. The regulator cited the lender's failure to comply with a court order relating to an ongoing regulatory investigation into potential manipulation of the Qatari riyal.

* The Central Bank of the United Arab Emirates has teamed up with local lenders and the country's bank federation to launch the "National Loan Scheme," which will allow debtors to consolidate all their loans into a single installment, The National wrote.

* HSBC Holdings PLC expects its retail business in the UAE to grow stronger and faster this year, the U.K.-based lender's UAE head of retail banking and wealth management Marwan Hadi told Gulf News.

* Dhabi Group CEO Adeel Bajwa has resigned, Reuters reported. The company, owned by Sheikh Nahyan Mubarak al-Nahyan, has investments in sectors including financial services, telecommunications and real estate.

* GFH Financial Group (B.S.C.) Chairman Jassim al-Seddiqi expects the Bahraini company to generate up to around $500 million this year from investment transactions, including acquisition and divestments, Al Khaleej reported.

* The extraordinary general assembly of Boubyan Bank KSCP has approved the increase of the lender's announced and paid-up capital by 5% to 11.9 million Kuwaiti dinars, through the distribution of bonus shares. The assembly also approved the increase of the bank's capital by 376,184,277 shares, with a nominal value of 100 fils and 250 fils premium.

* Bahrain Islamic Bank BSC CEO Hassan Jarrar said the lender will divest around half of its investment assets before the end of the year, Al Ayam reported. Jarrar noted that the bank had divested 35% of the said assets over the last three years.

REST OF MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

* S&P Global Ratings affirmed Jordan's B+/B long- and short-term foreign- and local-currency sovereign credit ratings. The outlook remains stable.

* Jordan Ahli Bank is closing certain branches and merging others in a bid to improve efficiency and productivity of its branch network, Al Ghad reported.

* Sudan's finance ministry has signed loan deals amounting to $300 million with regional funds including Abu Dhabi-based Arab Monetary Fund, Reuters reported. The deals come amid the nation's worsening economic crisis that has triggered nearly three months of street protests calling for an end to President Omar al-Bashir's three-decade rule.

* Algeria's central bank has increased reserves requirements for lenders to 12% from 8%, according to state news agency APS.

* Newly appointed Algerian Prime Minister Noureddine Bedoui has started talks for the creation of a new government, in an apparent effort to placate protesters calling for the resignation of long-ruling President Abdel Aziz Bouteflika and his inner circle, Reuters reported.

EAST AND WEST AFRICA

* Commercial Bank of Africa Ltd. shareholders accepted the share swap terms of a merger with fellow Kenyan bank NIC Group PLC. Following completion of the deal, Commercial Bank's shareholders will own 53% of the new combined entity while NIC Group's shareholders will control the remaining 47%.

* Noordin Haji, Kenya's Director of Public Prosecutions, is considering negotiating a plea deal or deferred prosecution with five banks — Standard Chartered Bank Kenya Ltd., KCB Group PLC, Equity Bank (Kenya) Ltd., Diamond Trust Bank Kenya Ltd. and Co-operative Bank of Kenya Ltd. — and their officials in relation to the 8-billion-shilling theft at the country's National Youth Service, Daily Nation reported.

* Rwanda's BK Group has launched a fourth subsidiary, BK Capital, that will offer advisory and investment services, The New Times wrote. The group's other units are Bank of Kigali, BK TecHouse and BK General Insurance.

* Tanzania's central bank is mulling a review of the financial laws to accommodate new developments in the sector, such as the rapid growth of digital financial startups in the country, according to The Citizen.

* African Development Bank will continue to allocate its capital to green energy projects, after having boosted the renewable power share of its energy portfolio to 95% from 59%, the multilateral lender's president, Akinwumi Adesina, told the Financial Times. The Côte d'Ivoire-based institution has pledged $25 billion in new climate financing between 2020 and 2025.

* Banque Centrale Populaire has launched mobile money service Wizall Money in Côte d'Ivoire, which the Morocco-based lender said would be completely free for users, Fratmat.info reported.

* S&P Global Ratings affirmed Nigeria's B/B long- and short-term sovereign credit ratings, with a stable outlook. The country's long- and short-term national scale ratings were also affirmed at ngA/ngA-1.

CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN AFRICA

* Angola's central bank will start an asset-quality evaluation at the country's 12 largest banks next month as part of efforts to strengthen the country's financial system, Banco Nacional de Angola Deputy Governor Manuel Tiago Dias said, O País and Novo Jornal reported. The monetary authority, which periodically makes such as assessment, said the evaluation was prompted by a steep increase in the banking system's overall default rate, from 12.6% of total loan portfolio in 2016 to 28% in 2017.

* Angola plans to privatize state-run insurance company ENSA – Seguros de Angola, Macauhub reported, citing Angolan newspaper Mercado. South Africa's Sanlam Ltd. is reportedly among the potential buyers.

IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD

Asia-Pacific: IOOF faces shareholder class action; Jammu & Kashmir Bank to sell stake

Erin Tanchico, Henni Abdelghani, Pádraig Belton and Helen Popper contributed to this report.

The Daily Dose Middle East and Africa has an editorial deadline of 4 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.