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First Abu Dhabi Bank eyes Saudi branch; Kenyan rate-cap law set for reform

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

* First Abu Dhabi Bank PJSC has applied for a commercial banking license in Saudi Arabia and expects to launch a branch in the country this year, Gulf News and Reuters reported, citing Karim Karoui, the United Arab Emirates-based lender's group head of subsidiaries, strategy and transformation.

* Arab National Bank reported fourth-quarter 2017 net profit of 634.4 million Saudi Arabian riyals, up 12.26% from 565.1 million riyals in the year-ago period.

* GFH Financial Group BSC appointed Jassim al-Seddiqi as its chairman and Shaikh Ahmed bin Khalifa al-Khalifa as chairman of GFH Capital.

* UAE-based private equity firm Abraaj Group Ltd. announced a reorganization of its businesses that will see the separation of Abraaj Investment Management Ltd. and Abraaj Holdings. Abraaj Group founder Arif Naqvi will focus on managing Abraaj Holdings, handing over the management of Abraaj Investment Management to Omar Lodhi and Selcuk Yorgancioglu.

* Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange CEO Rashed al-Baloushi said the stock exchange operator is planning to launch a market for financial derivatives, according to Argaam.

* Jordanian Prime Minister Hani Mulki appointed Jafar Hassan, chief of staff to Jordan's King Abdullah, as his special deputy for economic affairs as part of a cabinet reshuffle, Reuters reported.

* S&P Global Ratings affirmed Iraq's B-/B long- and short-term sovereign credit ratings, with a stable outlook.

* Qatar National Bank (QPSC) raised approximately 815.1 million Egyptian pounds from a sale of shares in QNB Alahli SAE, cutting its stake in the Egyptian unit to 95.6% from about 97.13%.

* Morocco's minister of economy and finance, Mohamed Boussaid, asked insurance firms to purchase shares in Société Centrale de Réassurance, as part of a restructuring of the state-owned reinsurer's capital to ensure its sustainability, according to the Middle East Insurance Review.

* The Moroccan central bank authorized Wafacash, Cash Plus, M2T, NAPS and Maymouna to offer payment services to their clients, Jeune Afrique reported.

EAST AND WEST AFRICA

* Kenyan Treasury Secretary Henry Rotich said the government intends to repeal or reform a law capping banks' interest rates as part of economic reforms sought by the IMF in exchange for the extension of a $1.5 billion emergency standby facility that will expire in March, the Financial Times wrote. Kenya's access to the standby facility had been suspended by the IMF since June 2017.

* Moody's affirmed Ethiopia's long-term issuer rating and senior unsecured rating at B1, with a stable outlook.

* First Atlantic Bank Ltd. Managing Director Odun Odunfa said the lender is "very confident" of raising by the second quarter the necessary capital to meet the Bank of Ghana's new minimum capital requirement of 400 million cedis for commercial banks, Citi Business News reported.

CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN AFRICA

* Capricorn Investment Group Ltd. reported profit attributable to equity holders of the group and company of 477.4 million Namibian dollars for the six months ended Dec. 31, 2017, compared to 457.3 million dollars a year ago. The lender declared an interim dividend of 30 cents per share for the period.

* S&P Global Ratings affirmed Zambia's long- and short-term sovereign credit ratings at B/B, with a stable outlook.

* Capital Intelligence Ratings lowered to BBB- from BBB the long-term foreign-currency ratings of FirstRand Ltd. unit FirstRand Bank Ltd., Standard Bank Group Ltd. unit Standard Bank of South Africa Ltd. and Barclays Africa Group Ltd. unit Absa Bank Ltd., following a change in the rating agency's internal assessment of sovereign risk to reflect the deterioration in the operating environment.

IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD

Asia-Pacific: QBE to divest LatAm ops; Indonesian president nominates new central bank chief

Leo Magno, Henni Abdelghani, Sophie Davies and Mariana Aldano contributed to this report.

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