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MENA news through June 13


* After the U.S. Federal Reserve hiked its benchmark interest rate, the central banks of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain followed suit with their respective increases, while Kuwait's central bank maintained its discount rate at 3%. The Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority raised its repo rate to 250 basis points from 225 basis points and its reverse repo rate to 200 basis points from 175 basis points, while the Central Bank of Bahrain raised its key policy interest rate by 25 basis points, with the one-week deposit facility rate increased to 2.25% from 2.0% and the overnight deposit rate to 2.0% from 1.75%, Reuters reported.

* Qatar pledged $500 million in support of Jordan, which has been hit by economic and political crises, an insider told Reuters. The aid package includes investments, project finance and job opportunities for the latter's citizens. Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates earlier pledged $2.5 billion in aid to Jordan.

* Obaid al-Zaabi, head of the UAE's Securities and Commodities Authority, said the country's central bank has assumed the role of settlement and clearing agent for market transactions, according to Reuters. First Abu Dhabi Bank PJSC and Emirates NBD Bank PJSC previously served as settlement and clearing agents for the Abu Dhabi Securities Market and the Dubai Financial Market, respectively.

* The Libyan central bank said it plans to impose fees on foreign-currency transactions in a bid to bridge the gap between the official and black market rates, Bloomberg News reported. The country's official exchange rate is around 1.36 dinars to the U.S. dollar, while on the black market, the rate is at around 6.2 dinars to the dollar.

* The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange Ltd. has asked Israeli lenders to extend the deadline for them to sell their holdings in the exchange until the end of August, Reuters reported. The move comes after the Israel Securities Authority requested for more time to examine the sale of the exchange's stakes to U.S. investment firm Manikay Partners LLC and other international investors.

* Abraaj Group Ltd. is set to file for provisional liquidation in the Cayman Islands as soon as this week, ahead of a scheduled June 29 court hearing for a liquidation petition filed by Kuwait's Public Institution for Social Security, insiders told Bloomberg. Meanwhile, a second creditor, Auctus Fund Ltd., has initiated legal action in the Cayman Islands against the Dubai-based private equity firm, seeking an orderly restructuring of its liabilities, Reuters reported.

* Separately, in its forensic review of two of Abraaj's funds, audit firm Deloitte found that it suffered from a "lack of adequate governance" and commingled around $95 million of fund money with its own money in a $1 billion healthcare fund and its fourth buyout fund due to liquidity problems, the Financial Times reported. Deloitte, however, noted that all money has been accounted for and that it found no evidence that Abraaj embezzled or misappropriated funds.

* Qatar's Commercial Bank (PSQC) ended discussions with Tabarak Investment about the latter's potential purchase of the bank's stake in UAE-based United Arab Bank PJSC.

* First Abu Dhabi Bank gained approval from Oman's Capital Market Authority to give up its license to market non-Omani securities in the country.

* Dubai Islamic Bank PJSC said its 5.1 billion UAE dirham rights issue attracted strong investor demand, receiving subscriptions in excess of 14 billion dirhams.

* UAE-based Al Waha Capital PJSC has abandoned plans to raise $300 million in a private equity fund and will instead focus on investment on a deal-by-deal basis, insiders told Reuters.

* Burgan Bank KPSC received regulatory approval to increase its issued and paid-up capital to 250 million Kuwaiti dinars from roughly 225.9 million dinars through the issuance of 240,581,530 shares. Separately, the lender named Nasser Mohammed Yousuf al-Qaisi chief retail banking officer.

* KBC Group NV said it will limit its operations in Iran following the reinstatement of U.S. sanctions on the country. Meanwhile, Austria's Oberbank AG, which signed an agreement in September 2017 to finance new ventures in Iran, said it is pulling out of the Middle Eastern nation due to the threat of potential U.S. sanctions, Reuters wrote.

* Banque Lombard Odier & Cie SA is discussing a potential partnership with an undisclosed Saudi Arabian bank as it looks to boost its presence in the Gulf region, the Swiss private bank's managing director, Arnaud Leclercq, told Reuters. Leclercq added that Lombard Odier, which already has an office in Dubai, is planning to launch a second UAE office in Abu Dhabi.

* Natixis will halt its commodity trade finance activities in Geneva and Dubai as part of a new strategic plan, Reuters reported.

* Dubai-based financial advisory and investment firm Shuaa Capital PSC established a wholly owned subsidiary in Abu Dhabi called Shuaa GMC Ltd. after securing approvals from the Abu Dhabi Global Market and the Financial Services Regulatory Authority.

* BLC Bank SAL's chairman of the board and general manager, Maurice Sehnaoui, has resigned from his post and will be replaced by vice chairman of the board and general manager, Nadim Adel Kassar. The Lebanon-based bank's board also unanimously elected Nabil Adel Kassar to the position of vice chairman of the board and named Bassam Farid Hassan general manager, CEO.


* Egyptian President Abdel-Fatah al-Sisi appointed Mustafa Madbouly acting prime minister and instructed him to form a new cabinet, Reuters reported, citing news website Ahram Gate. Madbouly has served as housing minister since 2014.

* Morocco's Finance Minister Mohamed Boussaid told Reuters that his country will issue its first sovereign Islamic bond worth 1 billion Moroccan dirhams in the coming weeks.

* Société Générale Marocaine de Banques will launch an investment program totaling 784 million Moroccan dirhams aimed at implementing its strategic objectives during the 2018-2019 period, Financial Afrik reported.

* Nabil Ahabchane has been named deputy director general of Upline Corporate Finance, a unit of Moroccan investment bank Upline Group, Financial Afrik reported.

Henni Abdelghani and Sophie Davies contributed to this report.