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Ghana's uniBank placed in administration; FAB gets nod for Saudi commercial biz

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

* Some central banks in the Gulf region, particularly Qatar and Kuwait, may hold off on lifting key rates despite an expected hike by the U.S. Federal Reserve today, amid low oil prices and a slowdown in economic growth, Reuters wrote. The Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority already raised interest rates last week.

* First Abu Dhabi Bank PJSC obtained a license from the Saudi central bank to set up a commercial banking business in Saudi Arabia, news agency WAM reported. The Saudi cabinet allowed FAB to open three branches in the country, according to the Saudi Press Agency.

* Emirates NBD Asset Management plans to boost the size of its equity fund in Saudi Arabia to $100 million by year-end, The National reported, citing Salman Bajwa, head of Emirates NBD Bank PJSC's asset management unit.

* Kingdom Holding Co.'s chairman, Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, told Bloomberg Television that he is seeking up to $3 billion in investments for his investment firm and mulling a real estate investment trust spinoff.

* S&P Global Ratings affirmed Co. for Cooperative Insurance (Tawuniya)'s long-term issuer credit rating and insurer financial strength rating at A-. The outlook is stable.

* Bank customers in the United Arab Emirates will incur a 5% value-added tax on banking services beginning May, insiders told Al Khaleej.

* A consortium led by Dubai Investments PJSC will set up a wholesale Islamic financial institution called Arkan Bank. The new bank will start operations with $100 million of initial paid-up capital and an authorized share capital of $500 million and is eyeing a listing on Nasdaq Dubai exchange within 12 months of its creation.

* Amana Cooperative Insurance Co. hired NCB Capital to serve as financial adviser for its planned capital increase program. In September 2016, Amana's board proposed a rights issue of 100 million Saudi Arabian riyals to boost its solvency margin and support its future activities.

* Qatar's first listed Shariah-compliant exchange-traded fund, Al Rayan Qatar ETF, will begin trading today on the Qatar Stock Exchange, The Peninsula wrote.

* Bank Muscat SAOG said compulsorily convertible bonds it issued in 2015 will be converted to common equity shares.

* Oman's National Life and General Insurance Co. SAOG opened its first office in Kuwait, the Middle East Insurance Review wrote, citing Kuwaiti newspaper Al Qabas.

* The implementation of value-added tax in Kuwait may not take place before 2020 even if the tax is approved this year, as the country's finance ministry would need at least one year to be technically and administratively prepared for the tax, insiders told Arab Times.

* Morocco's central bank kept its key rate unchanged at 2.25%.

EAST AND WEST AFRICA

* The Bank of Ghana appointed accounting firm KPMG as administrator for uniBank (Ghana) Ltd. to save the lender "from imminent collapse." The regulator said uniBank has persistently suffered liquidity shortfalls and has relied extensively on liquidity support from the central bank over the last two years to meet its liabilities.

* National Investment Bank Ltd. Chairman Togbe Afede said the bank has not been approached by the Ghanaian government over a potential merger with Agricultural Development Bank Ltd., Citi Business News wrote. The statement comes after Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta said the government is working on plans to merge the banks to form the National Development Bank.

* FCMB Group Plc appointed Oladipupo Jadesimi chairman of its board of directors.

* Centum Investment Co. Ltd. clinched a deal to sell a controlling 73.35% stake in asset manager GenAfrica to U.S. equity fund Kuramo Capital, Business Daily Africa reported. Centum recently completed the sale of its 25% stake in microfinance lender Platcorp Holdings Ltd.

CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN AFRICA

* Mozambique's international creditors have rejected a debt restructuring plan outlined by the government as a "non-starter," Reuters and the Wall Street Journal reported. The proposal presented by Finance Minister Adriano Maleiane asks bondholders to accept a 50% discount on missed interest payments and wait for as long as 2034 for repayment, a scenario the main group of creditors said was unacceptable.

* Economists expect the South African Reserve Bank to lower its repo rate by at least 25 basis points to 6.50% at its next policy meeting March 28, according to a Reuters survey. Of the 22 economists polled, all but two predict that South Africa will avoid a credit downgrade by Moody's on March 23.

* SARB Deputy Governor Kuben Naidoo said a forensic investigation into the collapse of VBS Mutual Bank, which was recently placed under curatorship, is likely, South Africa's Business Day reported.

* Sasfin Holdings Ltd.'s board declared an interim dividend for 2017 of 46.89 South African cents per share, down from 80.00 cents per share a year ago.

* Santam Ltd. named Steve Murphy head of unit Santam Reinsurance, effective April 1.

IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD

Asia-Pacific: Chinese P2P lender prices US IPO; Sony Life hits roadblocks in Australian deal

Europe: EU, UK reach Brexit transition deal; RBS mulls online bank; HSBC eyes $4B CoCos

Latin America: Banco de Bogotá Q4'17 profit down; Garantía de Valores acquisition gets nod

North America: SEC awards Merrill Lynch whistleblowers $83M; Powell's 1st Fed meeting today

North America Insurance: Tennessee House OKs Medicaid work approval; omnibus bill excludes ACA payments

Leo Magno, Henni Abdelghani, Sophie Davies and Helen Popper contributed to this report.

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