GULF COOPERATION COUNCIL
* Saudi Arabia's central bank banned combining insurance and reinsurance brokerage businesses in the same company, Reuters reported. The Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority gave companies that currently combine both activities three months to submit their implementation plans and one year to carry out the changes.
* Saudi Indian Company for Cooperative Insurance Wafa Insurance delayed the release of its financial statement for the period ended March 31, 2019, to February 29 as it is yet to complete the requirement to prepare the statements, Argaam reported.
* Islamic Arab Insurance Co. (Salama) PJSC's board approved a plan to reduce its accumulated losses through future annual profits, without lowering the company's paid-up capital. The company could also still distribute some of its future annual profits to shareholders.
* Humaid al-Qatami, head of Emiratization in the finance and banking sector, said a number of banks in the United Arab Emirates were fined for failing to hire enough local citizens as part of the government's drive to localize the industry, adding that the banking and insurance sector are required to hire 8,000 Emiratis over the next three years, Al-Ittihad reported.
* Bahrain-based GFH Financial Group (B.S.C.) named Maryam Jowhary group head of compliance and anti-money laundering.
* Ranga Gorur has resigned as a director of Oman-based United Finance Co. SAOG's board.
REST OF MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA
* Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu formally asked the country's parliament for immunity from prosecution in connection to charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust against him, the Financial Times reported. Netanyahu again denounced the charges as fabrications. Meanwhile, the country's High Court of Justice junked a petition to ban Netanyahu from forming a new government in lieu of the charges, Globes wrote.
* Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi named a new board for the Central Bank of Egypt chaired by Tarek Hassan Amer, with Jamal Najam and Rami Abunaja as vice chairmen, Al-Masry Al-Youm reported.
* Habib Jemli, Tunisia's designated prime minister, named Abderrahmen Khachtali finance minister as part of his proposed cabinet, Reuters and Il Boursa reported. A vote in parliament on the proposed new government, which President Kais Saied has approved, will be scheduled.
EAST AND WEST AFRICA
* Kenya-based Equity Group Holdings PLC and Atlas Mara Ltd. have yet to sign detailed transaction agreements regarding a deal that will see the Kenyan banking group issue shares to the London-listed financial services group in exchange for certain banking assets in four African countries. Equity Group said the binding term sheet agreement it signed with Atlas Mara expired without a final deal in place. Both firms are still engaged in talks over the matter and aim to reach mutually acceptable conditions early this year.
* Kenyan banking group KCB Group PLC appointed Anne Eriksson a nonexecutive director, effective Dec. 18, 2019. Eriksson most recently served as PwC's CEO for Eastern Africa.
* Kenya's High Court is set to hear a 1-billion-shilling dispute over Guardian Bank Ltd.'s acquisition of Guilders International Bank Ltd., Standard Digital reported. The 196 million-shilling deal was reportedly cleared in 1999 but former shareholders of Guilders International claim that the amount was never paid. The case has been adjourned to March 25, 2020.
* Equity Group, KCB Group, NCBA Group Plc and seven other Kenyan banks have suffered a combined paper loss of 12.7 billion shillings due to their exposure to Kenya Airways PLC, whose share price fell to record lows since the shares were acquired, according to Business Daily Africa. In 2017, the airline issued 2.2 billion shares to the banks to settle its loans of about 17 billion shillings.
* The Nigerian central bank is poised to impose new sanctions on banks for failing to meet a new loan-to-deposit ratio, which in September 2019 had been raised to 65%, Business Day reported. Some banks including Zenith Bank PLC, United Bank for Africa PLC and First Bank of Nigeria Ltd. could be fined a combined 499.1 billion naira for a combined deficit of almost 1 trillion naira.
* Banking clients in Nigeria called for more cuts in the charges imposed by banks on cash withdrawals and electronic transfers, Daily Trust reported. The Central Bank of Nigeria has already slashed charges in December 2019 across several platforms, effective Jan. 1.
* Ghana-based Jomoro Rural Bank met the central bank's minimum capital requirement of 1 million cedis, according to Ghana News Agency.
* Business intelligence advisory Economist Intelligence Unit expects Ghana's central bank to cut its lending rate in 2020 in light of lower inflation, Joy Online reported. The rate currently stands at 16%.
* Malèye Faye took over as head of Banque De Dakar, after four years as managing director of Banque d'Abidjan, Confidientiel Afrique reported.
CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN AFRICA
* In a measure aimed at improving transparency, Banco Nacional de Angola will start publishing a table of interest rates offered by commercial banks for saving deposits with a maturity of 30, 60 and 360 days, Macauhub reported. The central bank also said the forecast for the sale of foreign currency at auction in January and February 2020 will be around $500 million.
IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD
Asia-Pacific: Australian fires force bank branch closures; Korean digital bank stops lending
Europe: China halts LSE stock link; Commerzbank eyes comdirect stake; HSBC bets on ETFs
Latin America: Gentera to sell remittance payment business; S&P ups Argentina's rating
North America: JPMorgan tightens data security; banking issues to remain on 2020 House agenda
Global Insurance: Court ruling in ACA case; bushfire claims reach $207M; renewal season ends late
Erin Tanchico, Henni Abdelghani, Pádraig Belton and Mariana Aldano contributed to this report.
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