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MENA news through Jan. 9

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MENA news through Jan. 9

GULF COOPERATION COUNCIL

* Kuwait's Public Institution for Social Security filed a $156 million lawsuit against Man Group PLC and its units, claiming that the U.K. asset manager had "secret contracts" with a former executive of the pension fund between 1996 to 2013, Reuters reported. Man Group said it will dispute any claim and intends to defend any proceedings.

* A Cayman Islands court awarded United Arab Emirates-based Noor Bank PJSC — which loaned $100 million to Abraaj Group Ltd. before the private equity firm collapsed — the right to swap the debt for stakes in Abraaj's funds that were pledged against the loan, sources told Bloomberg News.

* Similarly, Commercial Bank of Dubai PSC will take stakes in Abraaj's funds that were offered as security against the approximately $170 million loan it lent the private equity firm, Reuters reported.

* Meanwhile, Abraaj will convert its $10 million loan in Nigeria-based C&I Leasing Plc into equity. Abraaj will get a 70% stake in the Nigerian firm through the conversion, Bloomberg News reported. Upon completion, C&I Leasing CEO Andrew Otike-Odibi said the company could potentially undertake a rights issue or an IPO to dilute the Dubai firm's holdings to around 30%.

* Abraaj is said to be nearing a deal with the government of Pakistan that will allow Abraaj to sell its 66% stake in Pakistani power utility K-Electric to China-based Shanghai Electric Power, according to the Financial Times.

* Gulf Union Co-operative Insurance Co. has offered 1 share for 1.74 shares of Al Ahlia Insurance Co. for Cooperative Insurance under a swap deal agreement for their planned merger, Argaam reported. Gulf Union Co-operative Insurance Co. CEO Munir al-Burno told Argaam that the planned merger will likely be finalized in May.

* The board of Al Rajhi Banking & Investment Corp. proposed a 53.8% capital hike to 25 billion Saudi Arabian riyals through the issuance of bonus shares. The board also recommended a 22.5% cash dividend for the second half of 2018 at 2.25 riyals per share, amounting to roughly 3.66 billion riyals.

* Al Baraka Banking Group BSC President and CEO Adnan Ahmed Yousif said the Bahrain-based lender is seeking to expand its presence in Asia, specifically in Malaysia, China and Indonesia, as part of its medium-term strategic plan, The Star reported.

* Bahrain Islamic Bank BSC appointed Ameer Abdul Ghani Dairi CFO. Dairi has been acting CFO at the lender since April 2017.

* Oman Investment & Finance Co. SAOG appointed Vikas Pitti its new CFO, effective Jan. 9.

* The United Arab Emirates' Securities and Commodities Authority issued a new regulation targeting listed companies whose losses exceed 20% of their capital, according to Al-Ittihad. Under the new rules, firms will be required to provide the regulator a thorough analysis of their losses, while companies whose losses exceed 50% will have to set up a committee to implement a restructuring plan.

* The Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange announced changes on ownership limits for United Fidelity Insurance Co. (PSC), which indicate that 51% to 100% of the firm should be owned by UAE nationals and GCC citizens, while foreign citizens will be allowed to own no more than 49%. A similar foreign ownership limit also applies to AXA Green Crescent Insurance Co. PJSC.

* Kuwait has formally requested that Dubai unfreeze and return the $496 million of investor funds belonging to private equity fund Port Fund that have been held in Noor Bank.

* Kuwait's parliament approved a new law regulating the exchange of credit information, Kuwait News Agency reported.

REST OF MIDDLE EAST

* Bank Leumi le-Israel BM is considering listing the shares of Bank Leumi USA in a move that could value the unit at more than $1 billion, Reuters reported, citing financial news website Calcalist.

* Egypt's Financial Regulatory Authority filed a criminal case against Beltone Financial Holding SAE officials accused of wrongdoing in the IPO of Sarwa Capital Holding for Financial Investments (S.A.E) in October 2018, Bloomberg reported, citing media reports.

* The Bank of Israel maintained the interest rate at 0.25%, noting that the rising path of the interest rate in the future will be "gradual and cautious."

* Central Bank of Iran Governor Abdolnaser Hemmati said the regulator presented a bill to the government proposing to remove four zeros from the Iranian rial in a bid to strengthen the currency, Reuters reported, citing IRNA.

* Businessman Tawfiq Fakhouri has transferred 81.6 million of his shares in Bank of Jordan PLC to other companies he owns, news outlets including Al Ghad and The Jordan Times reported.

* The board of Société Arabe Internationale de Banque SAE approved a new strategy that aims to boost the lender's credit portfolio by 20%, according to Al-Masry Al-Youm.

* The Indian government has allowed Iran's Bank Pasargad PLC to open a branch in Mumbai, Press Trust of India reported, citing union minister Nitin Gadkari.

NORTH AFRICA

* Kenya's Catalyst Principal Partners and Tunisia's AfricInvest collectively bought a "significant minority" stake in Kenya-based Prime Bank Ltd. for an undisclosed sum, Reuters reported, citing the two private equity companies.

Henni Abdelghani contributed to this report.

This S&P Global Market Intelligence news article may contain information about credit ratings issued by S&P Global Ratings, a separately managed division of S&P Global. Descriptions in this news article were not prepared by S&P Global Ratings.