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Dubai payments firm to change name; Saudi regulator approves SABB-Alawwal merger

GULF COOPERATION COUNCIL

* Saudi British Bank secured approval from the Saudi General Authority for Competition over its planned acquisition of Alawwal Bank, Argaam reported, citing a statement from the regulator. The Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority also recently cleared the deal.

* Dubai-based payments firm Network International LLC said it will re-register as a public limited company under the name Network International Holdings PLC prior to admission of its shares after its London IPO. The size of the IPO and the offer price will be announced in the coming weeks.

* Abu Dhabi's sovereign wealth fund Mubadala Investment Co. is looking at investment and partnership opportunities in Asia, Bloomberg News reported. Deputy Group CEO Waleed al-Mokarrab al-Muhairi said the fund is considering sectors such as real estate and private equity, among others.

* Qatar National Bank QPSC has issued $1 billion in U.S. dollar-denominated bonds, Reuters wrote, citing Qatar News Agency. Meanwhile, the bank said it has tapped ANZ, Barclays Bank PLC, Crédit Agricole CIB, Deutsche Bank, ING, QNB Capital LLC and Standard Chartered Bank as joint lead managers for an issuance of benchmark-sized U.S. dollar-denominated bonds.

* Kuwait's Warba Bank KSCP has formed its new board of directors chaired by Abdulwahab Abdullah al-Jouti, with Hamad Musaed al-Sayer as vice chairman, for the upcoming three-year term.

* The board of directors of National Investments Co. KSCP has recommended decreasing the company's capital to 79.79 billion Kuwaiti dinars from 87.62 billion dinars through the cancellation of treasury shares worth 7.84 billion dinars.

* Kuwait Insurance Federation Chairman Khalid al-Hassan said the country's new insurance law is expected to be approved before the end of 2019, Al-Anba reported. Discussions regarding the establishment of an independent body that will be in charge of overseeing the sector are still ongoing.

REST OF MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

* Lebanon's banking sector is showing similarities to that of Greece just before the European country's debt crisis, Sami Nader, an economist and director of Beirut's Levant Institute for Strategic Affairs told S&P Global Market Intelligence. The liquidity of lenders in Lebanon are now under big stress, and the nation's banking sector is also facing challenges including rising U.S. dollar interest rates and persistently weak credit demand and borrower confidence.

* Standard Chartered PLC appointed Mohanad Makhal as new CEO of its operations in Jordan, effective April 1, replacing Ahmed Abu Ayeda, Al-Ghad reported. Makhal, will also be in charge of the corporate banking sector.

* Banque Extérieure d'Algérie increased its capital to 230 billion Algerian dinars from 150 billion dinars, El-Khabar reported.

* The Tunisian markets regulator approved the creation of a 50-million-dinar fund to be managed by Zitouna Capital, Il Boursa reported.

EAST AND WEST AFRICA

* Diamond Trust Bank Kenya Ltd.'s full-year 2018 group profit after tax and non-controlling interests rose to 6.69 billion shillings from 6.45 billion shillings in 2017.

* Co-operative Bank of Kenya Ltd. posted full-year 2018 audited group profit after tax and exceptional items of 12.73 billion shillings, up from the year-ago 11.41 billion shillings.

* Barclays Bank of Kenya Ltd. suspended its safety deposit box service after authorities raided a branch of the bank and found up to $2 billion shillings in fake money, Standard Digital reported. The incident could possibly be part of a larger international syndicate, according to Daily Nation. The size of the raided deposit box is purportedly questionable as its area was about a square meter, while the area of usual safes are only 12 square inches.

* Kenya is expected to hold its borrowing rate at 9% next week given unchanged inflation and muted pressures, according to analysts polled by Standard Digital.

* Ghana issued $3 billion in sovereign eurobonds, Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta told Bloomberg News. The notes were more than 6x oversubscribed, attracting an order book of approximately $20 billion.

* Nigerian central bank Governor Godwin Emefiele said the tight monetary policy in the country would continue in the near term, Bloomberg News reported. Emefiele also said exchange rate would remain stable and that the regulator will shore up its funding to the agricultural sector.

* Hanu Agbodje, the founder of cryptocurrency exchange firm Patricia Technologies, said his company plans to introduce to Africa a new digital currency called Stable Coin, The Punch reported. The company has branched in Nigeria and Ghana.

* Ethiopia-based Debub Global Bank has partnered with British payments firm WorldRemit Ltd. for digital money transfer services in the country. Andrew Stewart, the payment firm's managing director, noted that the partnership bolsters WorldRemit's expansion efforts in Ethiopia.

* Côte d'Ivoire has decided to raise 500 billion CFA francs from international banks to finance its 2019 budget, rather than issuing a eurobond, Jeune Afrique reported.

CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN AFRICA

* Angolan lenders have sharply increased their investments in government debt securities in the last five years, with 34% of total banking assets invested in sovereign bonds at the end of 2018 compared with 18.7% in 2013, according to central bank data, Macauhub wrote. Over the same period, the banks' loan portfolio shrank from 40.9% of total assets in 2013 to 25.9% five years later as the country sank into an economic crisis.

* Mozambican insurance company Empresa Moçambicana de Seguros, or EMOSE, is leading a push for local insurance companies to help cover international energy firms conducting natural gas projects in the Rovuma basin, O País reported, citing EMOSE Chairman Joaquim Langa. He said EMOSE was holding talks with Anadarko Petroleum Corp. about how to ease the oil firm's demands in order to make it possible for Mozambican insurers to participate.

IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD

Asia-Pacific: 3 central banks keep rates steady; Anbang selects buyer for wealth units

Europe: 'Brextension' sought; UBS warns on profit; BayernLB gets new CEO

Latin America: Fitch cuts growth forecast for Brazil, Mexico; new chairman at Banco do Brasil

North America: BlackRock cuts fee on biggest index mutual fund; 2 bank deals announced in Iowa

Global Insurance: Munich Re plane crash exposure; NRA to question ex-regulator; Allianz deal talk

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.