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In this list

FirstRand fiscal H1 earnings up YOY; EU adds UAE, Oman to tax haven blacklist

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FirstRand fiscal H1 earnings up YOY; EU adds UAE, Oman to tax haven blacklist

* Another global debt crisis is likely but would not be as severe as that in the 2008-2009 period despite higher and riskier global debt today than a decade ago, according to an S&P Global Ratings report.

* The European Union updated its list of non-cooperative tax jurisdictions, adding the United Arab Emirates, Oman and several others that now face restrictions on EU funding. Blacklisted jurisdictions are those that have declined to engage with the EU or to address shortcomings on tax good governance.

* HSBC Holdings PLC named Timothy Brown COO of global credit trading and deputy COO for Europe, the Middle East and Africa markets, Financial News reported, citing a staff memo. The U.K.-based bank also named Christopher Dingle head of global markets operations for the Middle East and North Africa and Johnny Bou Maachar head of trading for MENA and Turkey, among other appointments across its global banking and markets business.

GULF COOPERATION COUNCIL

* Moody's said United Arab Emirates-based banks will likely face increasing loan losses over the next 12 to 18 months as borrowers' cash flow is reduced by declining real estate prices and rising interest rates, Reuters reported.

* Dubai-based Oman Insurance Co. PSC said that after 11 years in Qatar, the country's central bank declined its application for a branch license, leaving it unable to sell or issue insurance policies in Qatar.

* Medgulf Cooperative Insurance and Reinsurance Co. appointed acting CEO Tarek al-Naeem to hold the role on a permanent basis, Argaam reported.

* Bahrain Islamic Bank BSC has launched its first fully fledged digital branch in the country.

* Al Baraka Banking Group BSC CEO Adnan Yousef said the Bahrain-based bank aims to expand in China and Indonesia, Al Watan reported.

* Arzan Financial Group for Financing and Investment - KPSC said it has regulatory approval to sell and buy no more than 10% of its issued shares.

* Burgan Bank KPSC appointed Masoud Hayat deputy chairman of its board of directors.

* Kuwait Finance & Investment Co. KSC (Public) has divested from one of its investments in Yemen and posted $2 million in profits.

* The Qatar Financial Centre Regulatory Authority and Oman's central bank signed a memorandum of understanding to boost bilateral relations between the two parties, The Peninsula reported.

* Qatar General Insurance & Reinsurance Co. QPSC appointed Hassan Ahmed Hassan Al Efrangi group CEO, replacing Ghazi Abu Nahl.

REST OF MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

* Israel-based Mizrahi Tefahot Bank Ltd. has admitted that its employees knowingly assisted U.S. taxpayers with evading taxes and agreed to pay $195 million as part of a deferred prosecution agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice.

* Egyptian lender Banque du Caire SAE has opened a representative office in the UAE, according to a press release carried by Thomson Reuters' Zawya. Ashraf Khalil was named head of the UAE representative office and the gulf region.

* Iranian cleric and Chief Justice Ebrahim Raisi has emerged as a contender to succeed Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Reuters reported.

* Moroccan insurer Saham Assurances acquired a 24% stake in Khalladi Wind Farm, located 30 kilometers from Tangier, Financial Afrik reported.

EAST AND WEST AFRICA

* Equity Bank (Kenya) Ltd. CEO James Mwangi has voiced opposition to a law requiring Kenyan lenders to fully disclose cash transactions of over 1 million shillings, saying banks are not well positioned to carry out such moves, The Kenyan Wall Street reported, citing Mwangi's interview with Citizen TV.

* Kenyan telecommunications firm Safaricom PLC struck a partnership with China's Ant Financial Services that will allow the use of Safaricom's M-Pesa mobile payment service for online shopping on e-commerce platform AliExpress.

* The Ghana Revenue Authority said it made no changes to its top management, following media reports that suggested that the agency's commissioner general, Emmanuel Kofi Nti, had been fired, Joy Business wrote.

* Nigeria-based Access Bank PLC has entered into a subordinated syndicated loan agreement totaling $162.5 million.

CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN AFRICA

* South African financial services group FirstRand Ltd. posted normalized earnings attributable to ordinary equity holders of 13.34 billion rand for the six months ended Dec. 31, 2018, up from 12.46 billion rand in the same period in 2017, largely on the back of gains from the divestment of its 25.01% stake in unit Discovery Card. Headline EPS was 237.9 cents, up from 224.2 cents a year ago. CEO Alan Pullinger said FirstRand will likely reduce the size of its branch network over the next decade by at least 30% in square meters as part of the group's plans to digitize and adopt a platform model, Reuters noted.

* South Africa is considering extending state-guaranteed bank loans to Zimbabwe to support the latter's cash-strapped private sector, Bloomberg News reported.

* Former Liberty Holdings Ltd. Group CEO Thabo Dloti has been appointed a nonexecutive director and chairperson of the boards of South Africa-based African Bank Ltd. and parent African Bank Holdings Ltd.

* South Africa-based financial services firm Finbond Group Ltd. appointed Greg Labuschagne CFO, effective immediately. Labuschagne has served as the group's acting CFO and financial director since November 2018.

* Hafez Ghanem, the vice president of the World Bank for Africa, is starting his visit to Angola to evaluate and get an update on the country's current financial situation, Angola Press reported. Besides the scheduled meetings with the president and the economy minister, Ghanem will also visit projects financed by the World Bank in the areas of education, agriculture water and local development in the province of Huambo.

IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD

Asia-Pacific: Ping An plans 10B yuan share buy back; Samsung Life eyes Vietnam M&A deal

Europe: New Brexit deal up for vote; US targets Evrofinance; Denmark zeroes in on banks

Latin America: IMF approves funding for Ecuador; BBVA Francés' Q4'18 profit doubles

North America: Wells Fargo CEO to face House banking panel; Citi considers banking pot firms

Global Insurance: Claims possible as 737s grounded; flood premiums may rise; crop subsidy cuts

Erin Tanchico, Henni Abdelghani, Pádraig Belton and Mariana Aldano 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.