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NBK FY'19 profit up YOY; PE firm seeks controlling stake in Isracard

* The IMF trimmed its forecasts for global economic expansion through 2021 amid tentative signs that growth momentum may be stabilizing at subdued levels. The growth forecasts for 2019 and 2020 were revised down by 0.1 percentage point each from the IMF's October 2019 forecast, while the outlook for 2021 was lowered by 0.2 percentage point.

* The IMF expects growth in the Middle East and Central Asia region at 2.8% in 2020, which is 0.1 percentage point lower than in its previous forecast, and 3.2% in 2021. Meanwhile, growth in sub-Saharan Africa is expected at 3.5% in 2020 to 2021, which is 0.1 percentage point lower than the fund's previous forecast for 2020 and 0.2 percentage point weaker for 2021.

* U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson launched an Africa-United Kingdom summit to strengthen ties with Britain's African partners in the eve of its exit from the European Union, Agence Ecofin reported.

* London-based CDC Group PLC aims to double its portfolio size in Africa with an additional £2 billion investment in local businesses over the next two years. CDC said it agreed to a $100 million trade finance loan with South African bank Absa Group Ltd.and signed a memorandum of understanding to commit $100 million to Commercial International Bank (Egypt) SAE.

GULF COOPERATION COUNCIL

* Saudi Arabian insurers Aljazira Takaful Taawuni Co. and Solidarity Saudi Takaful Company signed a modified nonbinding memorandum of understanding to explore the feasibility of a merger. The agreement will expire if the two companies do not reach a final deal by Sept. 30, Argaam noted.

* Saudi Indian Company for Cooperative Insurance Wafa Insurance's shareholders disapproved the company's audited financial statements and audit report for the 2018 fiscal year, Argaam reported. The shareholders also rejected discharging board members from liabilities during the same period.

* National Bank of Kuwait SAKP's net profit attributable to owners of the parent for full year 2019 rose 8.2% year over year to 401.3 million dinars from 370.7 million dinars. The bank's board of directors recommended a 35% cash dividend and 5% bonus shares for shareholders.

* Kuwait Finance House KSCP's shareholders have approved its proposed acquisition of Bahrain-based Ahli United Bank BSC. Also approved were the fair share exchange ratio of 2.325581 shares of AUB for 1 KFH share and the listing of KFH in Bahrain Bourse, among other things.

* Meanwhile, KFH Chairman Hamad Abdulmohsen al-Marzouq said the planned acquisition is expected to result in a combined entity with about $101 billion in assets and $10.5 billion in shareholder equity, Reuters reported.

* Qatari lender Masraf Al Rayan QPSC reported a full-year 2019 net profit of 2.17 billion riyals, up from 2.13 billion riyals a year ago. The bank's board also recommended a dividend of 22.5 dirhams per share.

REST OF MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

* U.S. private equity firm The Blackstone Group Inc. aims to buy a controlling stake in Isracard Ltd. at a valuation of 2.8 billion shekels, Haaretz reported. However, Bank Hapoalim BM is reportedly looking for a higher valuation for Isracard, in which it holds a 33% stake. Yona Fogel, who is stepping down as Paz Oil Co. Ltd. CEO, is also working to form an investor group that would bid for Isracard.

* The Israel Securities Authority will modify regulations in lieu of technological innovations, Reuters reported. The regulator is also underway to form retail brokers in Israel based on a digital platform to streamline trading in securities and investing in mutual funds.

* Egypt could list its first green bond on the London Stock Exchange this year, according to a statement from the UK-Egypt Joint Statement on Economic Cooperation.

* U.K.-based private equity and venture capital firm Actis LLP signed a memorandum of understanding with the Sovereign Fund of Egypt to cooperate on investment opportunities across various sectors in Egypt, including energy and infrastructure.

* Tunisian President Kais Saied designated Elyes Fakhfakh as prime minister following the parliament's rejection of the government's previous nominee, Reuters reported. Fakhfakh previously served as the country's finance minister.

* Tunisia's central bank said 14 banking services would henceforth be free, including opening accounts, paying in and withdrawing cash, paying bills, and transferring accounts, according to Financial Afrik.

* Tanzania's Union Parliament is requesting the board of NMB Bank Plc to find a new CEO and managing director as soon as possible since it has been a year since the term of Ineke Bussemaker expired, The Citizen wrote.

* Sudan's central bank said the country had enough banknotes to permit its commercial banks to operate ATMs without withdrawal limits, the Sudan News Agency reported.

EAST AND WEST AFRICA

* Tougher regulations on obtaining banking licenses in Kenya have forced multinational companies to acquire existing lenders to enter the market, according to Business Daily Africa. In 2015, the central bank placed a moratorium on licensing new commercial banks in light of the collapse of Dubai Bank and Imperial Bank Ltd. The regulator has yet to lift the ban.

* Kenya aims to cuts its budget deficit by half over the next four years under President Uhuru Kenyatta's "Big Four" development agenda, Bloomberg News reported. The agenda also entails policy changes, including stalling the planned privatization of government-controlled entities like National Bank of Kenya Ltd.

* Kenyan businessman Edward Njuguna, who owns Absolute Sanitation (ABSA), is seeking a permanent injunction and damages against Barclays Bank of Kenya Ltd. for the use of the Absa brand, Business Daily Africa reported. Njuguna claims that he is entitled to the profits made by the bank since it adopted the trademark in 2012, noting that his company has been operating since 2005. The bank is in the process of integrating the brand of its parent, South Africa-based Absa Group.

* Two years after nine banks in Ghana were placed under receivership, their receivers have only been able to retrieve 1.2 billion cedi, equivalent to about 7.2% of the total loan outstanding commitments the banks advanced, Citi Business News reported.

CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN AFRICA

* U.S.-based Goldman Sachs Group Inc. clinched a banking license in South Africa and became a member of JSE Ltd.'s interest-rate and currency-derivatives market, Bloomberg reported. The bank appointed Jonathan Penkin to head the business.

* Portugal is looking into media reports on Angolan businesswoman Isabel dos Santos while EuroBic, formerly known as Banco BIC Português SA, distanced itself from dos Santos and said it will terminate all relationships with entities she controls, Reuters reported. Dos Santos indirectly owns 42.5% of Eurobic.

* Meanwhile, Portugal's central bank said it had asked EuroBic for information about money transfers made between Angola and Dubai that were reported in the so-called Luanda Leaks reports, and warned that it was ready to take punitive action if necessary, Jornal de Negócios wrote. The monetary authority had reportedly set up a crisis committee to follow the issue and was putting pressure on EuroBic for Dos Santos' departure from the bank's shareholder structure. Dos Santos has denied wrongdoing since corruption allegations were made against her by Angolan authorities late last year.

* A lawsuit filed last week by Mozambique against Credit Suisse Group AG at the High Court in London argues that a $622 million loan to state company ProIndicus was illegal and should be canceled, Jornal Noticias reported, citing Lusa news agency. The loan is at the center of the $2 billion "hidden debt" scandal involving state-guaranteed financing to three public companies in the African country. Mozambique is also seeking to recover money paid in bribes to three Credit Suisse executives involved in the case, which deepened a financial crisis in Mozambique and triggered a default by the sovereign.

IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD

Asia-Pacific: Hana Financial board OKs insurer buy; 3 Indian banks appoint heads

Europe: Deutsche mulls 30% i-bank bonus cut; HSBC cuts equities jobs; mBank gets offers

Latin America: Argentina tweaks Leliq auctions; Caixa plans management change at insurance arm

Erin Tanchico, Henni Abdelghani, Pádraig Belton and Helen Popper 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.