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Saudi banks settle Islamic tax dispute; Qatar ups key rate; Fitch affirms Angola

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Saudi banks settle Islamic tax dispute; Qatar ups key rate; Fitch affirms Angola

Editor's note: The Daily Dose MEA will not be published Dec. 24, Dec. 25 and Dec. 26 on account of the holidays. The Daily Dose MEA will return Dec. 27.

GULF COOPERATION COUNCIL

* Major Saudi Arabian lenders, including Al Rajhi Banking & Investment Corp., Riyad Bank and Samba Financial Group, have reached settlements amounting to a combined 16.7 billion riyals with the country's tax authority over a 2.5% religious levy, known as the Zakat, Bloomberg News reported. Al Rajhi Bank has the highest payment, amounting to 5.41 billion riyals.

* The Qatar Central Bank raised the deposit rate by 25 basis points to 2.50%, joining several other GCC central banks that hiked rates following a similar move by the U.S. Federal Reserve.

* Qatari lender Doha Bank QPSC has opened its liaison office in Nepal, The Himalayan Times reported.

* Qatar's Commercial Bank PSQC, which holds a 34.9% stake in National Bank of Oman SAOG, said it does not support a potential merger between National Bank of Oman and Bank Dhofar SAOG. The two Omani banks in July commenced talks to explore the possibility of a merger.

* Bank Sohar SAOG plans to change its name to Sohar International Bank SAOG. The shareholders also resolved that the bank's brand name will be Sohar International.

* Investcorp Bank BSC announced the final closing of its fourth technology fund, the Investcorp Technology Partners IV LP, with $400 million in total committed capital.

* GFH Financial Group BSC received approval from Bahrain's central bank to acquire treasury shares of up to 7% of its total issued shares. The group also completed the acquisition of additional 73,393,982 treasury shares and owns in total 257,476,504 shares as of date.

* Capital Intelligence Ratings affirmed United Arab Emirates-based Finance House PJSC's BBB-/A3 long- and short-term corporate ratings, with a stable outlook.

REST OF MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

* CI Ratings affirmed the BB-/B long-and short-term foreign-currency ratings of Jordanian lenders Cairo Amman Bank and Housing Bank for Trade & Finance, with negative outlooks.

* Israel Discount Bank Ltd. accepted pre-commitments of 1.5 billion shekels from institutional investors in the first phase of its offering for two series of bonds, with demand for the bonds totaling 3.2 billion shekels, according to Reuters.

* CI Ratings affirmed National Bank of Egypt SAE's long- and short-term foreign-currency ratings at B+/B, with a stable outlook.

EAST AND WEST AFRICA

* Depositors of Imperial Bank Ltd. will have access, beginning Dec. 20, to 12.7% of eligible deposit balances remaining in the collapsed lender, Capital FM reported. Separately, KCB Group PLC said it aims to complete its acquisition of Imperial Bank by March 2019 and will absorb some of the failed lender's branches and employees, according to The Star.

* Access Bank PLC CEO Herbert Wigwe said the lender expects its takeover of Diamond Bank PLC — expected to complete in the first half of 2019 — to start contributing to its earnings by the second and third year, Bloomberg reported. The Central Bank of Nigeria gave the deal the go-ahead earlier this week, Pulse wrote.

CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN AFRICA

* Stanlib, a unit of insurance group Liberty Holdings Ltd., has paid back performance fees to some of the asset manager's affected investors, Fin24 reported. The move came after a probe by South Africa's Financial Sector Conduct Authority found that Stanlib charged investors fees that were not disclosed in legal documents for some of its unit trusts. The regulator fined Stanlib 500,000 South African rand for the breach, which the asset manager described as "an administrative oversight."

* IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde has urged South Africa to protect key institutions such as the central bank and the National Treasury as it seeks to boost economic growth, Bloomberg wrote.

* Fitch Ratings affirmed Angola's B/B long-and short-term foreign-and local-currency issuer default ratings and B country ceiling, with a stable outlook on the long-term ratings.

* Beginning January 2019, all commercial banks operating in the Democratic Republic of the Congo will have to increase their minimum capital to $30 million, Les Dépêches de Brazzaville reported.

* The presidential election, set for Dec. 23, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is likely to be postponed again due to the electoral commission being unable to organize the ballot on time, Reuters wrote. The election has been repeatedly postponed since 2016.

IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD

Asia-Pacific: HSBC Australia names new head of retail; Taiwan holds rate steady

Europe: EU outlines no-deal Brexit plan; UK banks named in RBS scheme

Latin America: Argentina falls into recession; XP gets approval to launch bank

North America: Stock Yard Bancorp to buy King Bancorp; Fed projects 2 rate hikes in 2019

Global Insurance: Assurant, AXIS loss estimates; US-UK covered agreement; MS&AD ups ReAssure stake

Deza Mones, Henni Abdelghani, Padraig 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.