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Israel to hold 3rd election; IMF, Ethiopia reach preliminary agreement on loan

* Japan's Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc. named Matteo Ferrario head of its public and private side distribution team in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, effective in January 2020, according to a press release carried by AL Press.


* Saudi Arabia could price international bonds as early as January 2020 as part of plans to raise $32 billion of debt in that year, Fahad al-Saif, president of the country's debt management office, told Reuters. Al-Saif added that the international part of the debt scheme in 2020 would amount to between 30 billion riyals and 35 billion riyals.

* Saudi Arabian Oil Co. hit the limit of price moves during its stock market debut yesterday, giving the oil giant a valuation of about $1.88 trillion, below the $2 trillion valuation sought by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The company reportedly plans to exercise its 15% greenshoe option in full or in part in the first 30 days of its trading period.

* United Arab Emirates asset manager Dalma Capital Management Ltd is offering international investors access to Saudi Aramco's IPO via a dedicated protected cell. While these funds are not publicly available to retail investors, Dalma Capital's segregated investment vehicle can provide qualifying investors an alternative to accessing equities listed on the Saudi Stock Exchange (Tadawul).

* Saudi Arabia-based Al Alamiya for Cooperative Insurance Co. obtained central bank approval for its group credit life product, Argaam reported.

* The Abu Dhabi Global Market's new free zone licensing regime for digital banks has received "a significant level of interest" from the region, Asia, Europe and the U.S., regulators at the free zone told S&P Global Market Intelligence. Fraser Brown, executive director of banking and insurance authorization at the free zone's Financial Services Regulatory Authority, said although there has been some interest from local banks in exploring a digital arm, it is "premature to say anything about the onshore banks" and whether they will apply for digital banking licenses.

* The UAE's finance ministry has requested from multinational companies operating in the country to submit their financial statements before Dec. 31, Emarat Al Youm reported. The move follows the decisions of UAE cabinet in April 2019 pertaining to the requirement of reports related to taxes and transfer of profits that multinational firms should fill out.

* Kuwait's Capital Markets Authority issued Boubyan Capital Investment a license for Global Islamic Sukuk Fund, valid for three years and renewable.

* Boursa Kuwait Securities Co. K.P.S.C signed a market player contract with Kuwait and Middle East Financial Investment Company K.S.C.P., as the company managed to meet all the regulatory requirements, Al-Jarida reported. The bourse expects to have three market players by next year, which will be increased to five at a later stage.


* Israel is set to hold another general election in March 2020, the country's third in a year, after its parliament was dissolved, multiple media outlets reported. The unprecedented third round of elections comes in the wake of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu being indicted in three separate corruption cases, following monthslong probes into allegations that he accepted gifts from businessmen and dispensed favors for favorable media coverage.

* Israel's Competition Authority will not object to a court decision clearing the proposed merger between Mizrahi Tefahot Bank Ltd. and Union Bank of Israel Ltd., Reuters reported.

* Moody's downgraded to "ca" from "caa2" the stand-alone and adjusted baseline credit assessments of Lebanese lenders Bank Audi S.A.L. Bank Audi SAL, BLOM BANK SAL and Byblos Bank SAL, concluding the review for downgrade on the said ratings initiated in October. The agency said the downgrade was driven by the payment of part of the interest for foreign-currency deposits in local currency by domestic banks following instructions by Lebanon's central bank.

* Bahrain-based Arab Banking Corp. (BSC) kicked off the operations of its digital bank in Tunisia, the first the country, The Arab Weekly reported. The bank wants to develop e-banking operations but local authorities are concerned that red tape would hamper its efforts.


* Hassan Mahmoud, the Central Bank of Nigeria's deputy director for financial policy and regulations, said the regulator intends to raise the loan-to-deposit ratio to 70% by 2020 from 65% at present, Daily Trust reported.

* Nigerian banks remain stable and are not in distress despite a recent outlook revision by Moody's on the sovereign, Abdulhameed Aliu, deputy director for banking examination of the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corp. said, Premium Times reported.

* John Gyamfi, the Ghanaian central bank's head of currency management, said local companies lack the capacity to print banknotes so the regulator will likely employ foreign companies, Citi Business News reported.

* The IMF and Ethiopia reached a staff-level agreement, subject to approval by the fund's executive board, on a three-year $2.9 billion financing package that could be supported under the IMF's extended credit facility and extended fund facility. The package is aimed at helping the country liberalize its exchange rates and address its shortage of foreign currency reserves, Agence Ecofin noted.

* The IMF's executive board approved a four-year extended credit facility of about $213.6 million for Liberia, enabling an immediate disbursement of $23.4 million.

* The IMF's executive board completed its fourth review of the three-year extended credit facility for Mauritania, paving the way for the disbursement of about $22.8 million from the roughly $159.6 million facility.


* Goldman Sachs Group Inc. named Jonathan Penkin CEO of Goldman Sachs International Bank in Johannesburg, which serves as the base of the U.S. investment bank's business in sub-Saharan Africa, Reuters reported, citing an internal memo. The bank also appointed Willem Baars and Olivier Frendo co-heads of investment banking for the region.

* Nedbank Group Ltd. and unit NedGroup Investments Africa agreed to sell 100% of Nedbank (Malawi) Ltd. to MyBucks SA's Malawi-based unit MyBucks Banking Corp. Ltd. for an undisclosed sum. The deal includes the cession and delegation of a term loan from Nedbank Nedbank Malawi. Nedbank Group said the transaction followed a strategic review of the business.

* The recapitalization of Angola's largest commercial lender, Banco de Poupança e Crédito SA, could cost the state $2 billion, equivalent to about 2.0% of the country's GDP, according to a report by Fitch Ratings, Lusa news agency reported. The bank, which has a 26% market share, has been plagued by high rates of nonperforming loans in recent years. The rating agency said it hoped the central bank would be flexible about setting deadlines for the bank's recapitalization to limit the impact on the public debt load. Angola's central bank conducted an analysis of 13 leading banks to assess their capitalization ratios and has set a June 2020 deadline for them to correct any weaknesses.


Asia-Pacific: Malaysia's BIMB eyes restructuring; APRA keeps bank buffers at 0%

Europe: Credit Suisse cuts key target; HSBC's Swiss unit fined; UBS suffers court defeat

Latin America: XP prices IPO above target range; Finvest seeks digital bank license

North America: Wells joins fee-free race; SEC OKs semi-transparent ETFs for 4 asset managers

Global Insurance: New York Life/Cigna talks; Prudential Financial caution; Axis Capital COO out

Erin Tanchico, Henni Abdelghani, Pádraig Belton and Helen Popper 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.