* S&P Global Ratings expects the sukuk market to continue to grow in 2020 following a stronger-than-expected performance last year. Mohamed Damak, head of Islamic finance at the rating agency, said total sukuk issuance this year is expected to reach $160 billion to $170 billion, including up to $45 billion in foreign-currency issuance.
* Ongoing tensions between the U.S. and Iran will likely drive insurers and reinsurers to renegotiate terms of cover and introduce endorsements and riders to policies to reflect increased risks of trading in the Middle East, Middle East Insurance Review wrote, citing Jonathan Moss, head of marine and trade at multinational law firm DWF.
GULF COOPERATION COUNCIL
* Saudi Arabia-based Neo Merchants Capital launched a 1 billion riyal asset-backed sukuk program, which will be privately offered in multiple series over two to three years, Mubasher reported.
* Bahrain's GFH Financial Group BSC mandated Société Générale and Standard Chartered to market five-year dollar sukuk, or Islamic bonds, according to a term sheet seen by Reuters.
* Bahrain's central bank has set out instructions aimed at standardizing companies' financial statements and helping shareholders and investors make sound investment decisions, Gulf Digital News reported.
* Qatar Insurance Co. QSPC appointed Salem Khalaf al-Mannai group CEO.
REST OF MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA
* Lebanon-based Bank Audi SAL has asked Egypt's central bank for permission to sell its Egyptian unit as part of efforts to restructure to cope with a financial and banking crisis in its home country, Reuters reported.
* Lebanese central bank Governor Riad Salamé denied saying local lenders could convert U.S. dollar deposits to Lebanese pounds, Reuters wrote.
* The Banque Marocaine pour le Commerce et l'Industrie said Philippe Dumel would take over as its chairman, Financial Afrik reported.
* Egypt has launched a microfinancing program called Nano Finance that aims to integrate the informal economy in the formal sector, The Arab Weekly reported.
* Beltone Financial Holding SAE CEO Ibrahim Karam said the Egyptian company is looking to expand to Gulf and African countries in 2020, Reuters reported.
* Israeli Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon has opted not to participate in the Knesset election on March 2 after deciding to leave politics, Globes reported.
* Israeli provident and pension funds are reducing their exposure to the exchange rate by selling foreign currency through hedging activity, Globes wrote, citing economists at Bank Hapoalim BM.
EAST AND WEST AFRICA
* Nairobi Securities Exchange PLC CEO Geoffrey Odundo said the bourse expects the government's removal of a cap on commercial lending rates to boost stocks trading and lead to increased valuations and prospects for new listings, Reuters wrote.
* Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday signed into law a bill seeking to raise the country's VAT rate to 7.5% from 5%, among other things, to boost the government's revenue, Reuters reported.
* Nigerian policyholders who failed to receive their dues from financially ailing insurers will receive 4.3 billion shillings in compensation from the government following a recent amendment to insurance law that removed the insolvency of an insurer as a condition for the provision of compensation to claimants, The Kenyan Wall Street reported.
* Nigeria's National Insurance Commission will boost efforts this year to prepare insurers for the full adoption of IFRS 17 accounting standards in 2022, The Punch reported, citing Barneka Thompson, the commission's director for governance, enforcement and compliance. Meanwhile, Acting Commissioner for Insurance Sunday Thomas said the commission will soon begin enforcing compulsory insurance policies, the newspaper wrote.
* Guinea-Bissau's Supreme Court confirmed Umaro Cissoko Embalo's victory in the December 2019 election after it rejected a challenge by defeated candidate Domingos Simoes Pereira, who alleged that the process was marred by fraud, Reuters reported.
* Philip Owiredu has formally assumed his role as CEO of Ghana-based CalBank Ltd., replacing Frank Adu Jnr, Citi Business News wrote. The lender's shareholders also approved the appointment of four new nonexecutive directors to the bank's board.
* Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said the country expects to carry out a parliamentary election in May or June despite security and logistics concerns, Reuters wrote.
CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN AFRICA
* African Phoenix Investments Ltd. has changed its financial year-end to June 30 from Sept. 30 to align it with the financial reporting period of fellow South Africa-based Zarclear Holdings Ltd., should their proposed merger be carried out.
* Angolan courts could move to seize the assets of former first daughter and billionaire Isabel Dos Santos abroad but have not yet decided to take such actions, Reuters reported, citing a prosecution spokesman. Dos Santos, along with her husband Sindika Dokolo and Banco de Fomento Angola SA Chairman Mario da Silva, previously had their assets in Angola seized after the government alleged that the three caused the state losses of more than $1 billion.
* Standard Bank de Angola SA CEO Luís Teles admitted the plans to conduct mergers or acquisitions to increase its presence in Angola. Standard Bank has recently concluded an evaluation of the country’s 13 largest banks, to support the decision process, Jornal de Negócios reported.
* Alexandre Beziaud was named new managing director of Société Commerciale de Banque Cameroun, replacing Mohammed Mejbar, Cameroon Tribune said.
* Cameroon said it would not apply VAT on life insurance from the 2020 financial year, Agence Ecofin said.
IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD
Asia-Pacific: India mulls new regulatory body; AMP to consolidate operations
Europe: BoE rate cut backed; HSBC kicks off French unit sale; Wirecard chair resigns
Latin America: Argentina sets debt renegotiation deadline; Itaú Chile sells life insurance unit
North America: Tennessee banks in deal; Goldman plans to double China staff in 5 years
Global Insurance: Solvency II review impact; Aegon coal strategy; MS Amlin startup; R&Q succession
Sheryl Obejera, Henni Abdelghani, Pádraig Belton and Mariana Aldano contributed to this report.
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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.