* Moody's said the outlook for sub-Saharan African sovereigns in 2019 is negative, reflecting credit challenges due to fiscal and external vulnerabilities amid tightening global liquidity conditions and increasing global trade tensions. Meanwhile, S&P Global Ratings expects eurobond issuance from rated nations in the region to be at a more moderate pace than last year, when issuances totaled $16.56 billion.
GULF COOPERATION COUNCIL
* Riyad Bank hired Goldman Sachs to serve as an adviser on its merger talks with National Commercial Bank, insiders told Reuters. NCB is also reportedly looking at proposals after several banks, including HSBC and Citigroup, pitched to land advisory roles in the potential tie-up.
* Alawwal Bank is training its employees on the basics of artificial intelligence as part of its digitalization, Argaam reported. The bank has partnered with global tech firm Reaktor to help with the staff training.
* Tariq Abdullah al-Ghaziri resigned as a nonexecutive director representing Riyad Bank at the board of Al Alamiya for Cooperative Insurance Co.
* Bahrain's Investcorp Bank BSC has partnered with U.K. investment company Coller Capital Ltd. to set up a $1 billion European private equity portfolio, subject to regulatory and customary approvals. Coller Capital's Coller International Partners VII will underwrite the new fund, while Investcorp will manage both the assets acquired through the secondary transaction and the fund's new capital.
* The United Arab Emirates' Insurance Authority outlined a three-phase plan for the implementation of the International Financial Reporting Standard for insurance contracts, or IFRS 17, according to the Middle East Insurance Review. Insurance firms would have to conduct a so-called gap analysis in the first phase, while the second phase relates to design of internal rules and processes to cope with the directive. The third phase will be the implementation of IFRS 17.
* The Central Bank of Oman signed a deal with Iceland-based credit information and fintech services provider Creditinfo Group hf. to assist with the regulator's plan to form a credit bureau, which would process credit data sourced from both banks and non-banking entities, Arabian Business wrote.
* Kuwait's Capital Markets Authority is set to implement the new capital adequacy standard in February, according to Al-Jarida.
* The Securities House KSCP's board has recommended the cancellation of some of the company's activities, including serving as a non-registered financial broker, investment supervisor and custodian agent.
* National International Holding Co. KSCP completed its acquisition of 185,000,000 shares, or 29.59% of Kuwait-based asset manager Coast Investment & Development Co. KSCP from Al Khair National for Stocks and Real Estate Co. for 6.3 million Kuwaiti dinars.
REST OF MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA
* Lebanon's central bank said all money transfers from foreign countries must be paid to recipients in local currency only and not in U.S. dollars, The Daily Star wrote.
* Iran's central bank has instructed lenders and credit institutions to accept Islamic bonds as collateral from contractors of the country's development projects, the Financial Tribune reported.
* Egypt is looking to issue as much as $7 billion in international bonds in the first quarter amid foreign capital outflows in local debt markets, which could take a toll on meeting budget deficit reduction targets, Bloomberg News reported, citing Finance Minister Mohamed Maait. The instruments could be sold in a range of currencies such as the U.S. dollar, euro and Chinese yuan, Maait added.
* The Egyptian finance ministry said it is yet to decide on a date for selling bonds in the Asian market or on the amount and currency the instruments will be issued in, Reuters wrote.
* For 2020, National Bank of Egypt SAE plans to boost its investments in small and medium-sized enterprises to 100 billion pounds, Amwal Al Ghad wrote citing, Mamdouh Afia, the bank's SME finance head. The lender's SME investment portfolio amounted to 49.5 billion pounds last year.
* Aguila Saleh, head of Libya's internationally recognized parliament, said the country should still hold national elections even if the draft constitution is rejected in the planned referendum, Reuters reported.
EAST AND WEST AFRICA
* VFD Group sold its stake in Nigeria's NEM Insurance Plc following a dispute with the insurer's management over its strategy, Vanguard reported. The stake was valued at 1.6 billion naira.
* The Central Bank of Nigeria and other finance sector stakeholders aim to launch key policies aimed at attaining the country's financial inclusion target of 80% by 2020, The Punch reported.
* A Nigerian court affirmed the dismissal of Rabi Ibrahim from Unity Bank PLC after her involvement in a 306.2 million naira fraud, Premium Times wrote. Ibrahim allegedly used her password to clear unauthorized transactions from three accounts without the consent of the account holders, the report added.
CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN AFRICA
* Zimbabwe plans to introduce a new currency over the next 12 months as a shortage of U.S. dollars had negatively impacted the country's financial system, Reuters reported, citing Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube.
IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD
Asia-Pacific: ANZ buys stake in online loan broker; China raises foreign investors' quota
Europe: Euronext launches Oslo Børs offer; BNP closing €2.5B arm; Danske probe in France
Latin America: B3 wants local listing for XP; Colombia OKs payment to Ruta del Sol creditors
North America: Citi gives more access to ValueAct; PG&E in financing talks with i-banks
Global Insurance: Guy Carp rate index up 1.1%; MS Amlin raises P&I capacity; Pool Re cat bond
Deza Mones, Henni Abdelghani, Pádraig Belton and Mariana Aldano contributed to this report.
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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.