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Regulator clears 2 Saudi banks' merger; Absa, Old Mutual post higher results


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Regulator clears 2 Saudi banks' merger; Absa, Old Mutual post higher results

* Continuing overcapacity in the global reinsurance market has resulted in a lack of profitability in the reinsurance market in the Middle East and North Africa region, Thomson Reuters' Zawya reported, citing participants at the Dubai World Insurance Congress.

* The United Arab Emirates is set to be included in the European Union's draft blacklist of tax havens, although Italy and Estonia are blocking the UAE's inclusion, Reuters noted, citing EU documents and officials.


* The Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority has cleared the planned merger of Alawwal Bank and Saudi British Bank.

* Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank PJSC has named a new board, which according to The National will lead the entity resulting from the bank's merger with Union National Bank PJSC and Al Hilal Bank PJSC.

* Younis Haji al-Khoori, an undersecretary of the United Arab Emirates' finance ministry, said the body will establish a federal debt management office in 2019 and will seek a sovereign rating for the country, Reuters reported.

* Dubai International Financial Centre has hired Middle East Venture Partners and Wamda Capital to manage $10 million of its $100 million financial technology fund aimed at supporting promising fintech firms in the region, The National reported, citing DIFC Governor Essa Kazim.

* The Central Bank of Kuwait and the Capital Market Authority have refused to oversee the insurance market in Kuwait, Al Qabas reported.


* Israel Discount Bank Ltd. reported fourth-quarter 2018 consolidated net profit attributable to shareholders of 324 million Israeli shekels, compared to 371 million shekels in the same period a year earlier. The bank's board decided to distribute a dividend at the rate of 15% of its fourth-quarter profit, comprising about 4.18 agorot per ordinary share.

* Noureddine Bedoui was appointed new prime minister of Algeria, Jeune Afrique reported. He replaced Ahmed Ouyahia, who resigned. Meanwhile, Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika said he would not be seeking a fifth term in office.

* Tunisia's Wifak International Bank SA is preparing to issue the country's first Islamic bond, with a total issue of 150 million Tunisian dinars, Financial Afrik reported.

* Tunisia-based Banque Zitouna SA appointed a new board of directors following sale of 69.15% of its shares to a subsidiary of Qatar's Majda group, Il Boursa reported.


* Access Bank PLC shut down media reports alleging that Nigerian police charged the lender and its officers of conspiracy and stealing metal billets said to belong to U.K.-based BMCE Bank International PLC, saying the bank or any of its executives or officers did not commit the alleged offenses.

* Nigeria-based Guaranty Trust Bank PLC expects its pretax profit to reach 220 billion naira in 2019, compared with 215.6 billion naira in 2018.

* Nigeria's central bank and postal service are set to launch a National Microfinance Bank with pilot branches in seven locations within the country, insiders told The Punch.

* Former Skye Bank PLC Chairman Tunde Ayeni has been arraigned in a Nigerian court on 10 counts of charges related to money laundering for allegedly conspiring to divert 25.4 billion naira of depositors' funds at the defunct lender, Business Post reported.

* Cytonn Investments Management Ltd. has launched its asset management division, Cytonn Asset Managers Ltd, which has been granted a license to operate as a real estate investment trust by Kenya's Capital Markets Authority.

* Meanwhile, Cytonn Investments Management finalized the terms of a 650 million Kenyan shilling loan with SBM Bank (Kenya) Ltd., Business Daily Africa reported.

* Benin is said to be preparing several meetings with investors for its debut sale of Eurobonds, insiders told Bloomberg News. The West African nation has reportedly hired French banks Natixis SA and Société Générale SA to set up the meetings.


* South African financial services firm Absa Group Ltd. reported full-year 2018 profit attributable to ordinary equity holders of 13.92 billion South African rand, up from a restated 13.89 billion rand in 2017. The group's headline earnings for the year, meanwhile, dipped to 14.14 billion rand from 14.38 billion rand in 2017.

* Meanwhile, Absa is considering entering the Ethiopian market over time, CFO Jason Quinn told Reuters, adding that the group is also looking into entering other growth markets such as Nigeria and Angola.

* South African insurer Old Mutual Ltd. reported preliminary IFRS profit after tax attributable to equity holders of the parent of 36.57 billion rand for full year 2018, up from a represented 14.37 billion rand a year earlier. Headline earnings increased year over year to 14.24 billion rand from 13.14 billion rand. The company also announced a share buyback program of approximately 2 billion rand.

* Clients of U.S. asset manager Capital Group Companies Inc. increased their stake in South Africa-based Capitec Bank Holdings Ltd. to 5.0626%.

* Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor John Mangudya has suggested that the country's new transitional currency will be devalued further from the current 2.5 per U.S. dollar exchange rate when tobacco auctions open next week, Reuters wrote.

* Mauritius-based African Rainbow Capital Investments Ltd. appointed Anil Currimjee to its board as an independent nonexecutive director, effective March 11.

* Banco Postal and Banco Mais are still working to reverse a decision by Angola's central bank to revoke their licenses for failing to comply with capital requirements, Gazeta Uigense wrote.


Asia-Pacific: Citi to open Singapore currency trading hub; ORIX mulls overseas asset arm sale

Europe: OneSavings, Charter Court in merger talks; UBS, StanChart to settle HK IPO case

Latin America: US sues top Venezuelan official; Peru's PM quits; Banco Macro's Q4 profit up 67%

North America: JPMorgan combines 2 teams; Citi setting up Singapore forex platform

Global Insurance: Genworth layoffs; Argo-shareholder tussle; plane crash payout

Sheryl Obejera, Henni Abdelghani, Pádraig Belton and Mariana Aldano contributed to this report.

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