* Transparency International said more countries declined than improved in its 2016 Corruption Perception Index results, which show that five of the 11 most corrupt countries in the world come from the Middle East and North Africa region. The Berlin-based organization also found Cape Verde and São Tomé and Príncipe to be the most improved African countries and Somalia the most corrupt worldwide.
* Sub-Saharan Africa-focused investment company Atlas Mara Ltd. signed a commercial partnership with Visa Inc., enabling Atlas Mara's operating banks across Africa to use existing Visa payment platforms.
MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA
* Malath Cooperative Insurance and Reinsurance Co. obtained approval from the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority to halt its reinsurance business activities. The company said the move is not expected to have a negative impact on the insurer's operations and will instead boost its solvency and investment returns.
* Saudi Arabia's Capital Market Authority approved Saudi Kuwaiti Finance House's public offer of Baitk Al Samid GCC Multi-Asset Defensive Fund and Baitk Liquidity Fund, as well as SAMBA Capital & Investment Management Co.'s public offer of Al Jood GCC Equity Fund.
* Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank PJSC's majority shareholder, the Abu Dhabi Investment Council, increased its stake in the lender to 62.52% from 58.08% after a capital reduction through a share buyback.
* Recent decisions taken by the UAE Insurance Authority are meant to increase the profitability of local insurance firms by nearly 50%, though they entail higher costs for health and motor insurance policies, local insurance experts tell Al-Bayan.
* Khalid Hamad, executive director of banking supervision at the Central Bank of Bahrain, said there is no liquidity shortage at banks in the country, Al-Ayam reports.
* Warba Bank KSCP received regulatory approval to issue a $250 million Islamic bond.
* Ahli Bank SAOG recommended a cash dividend 10 Omani baizas per share as it posted a 6.9% year-over-year growth in net profit to 29.6 million rials for 2016. Meanwhile, Bank Dhofar SAOG proposed a cash dividend of 13.5%, amounting to 25.6 million rials, and the issue of 142,440,105 bonus shares.
* Qatar International Islamic Bank (QSC) recommended paying a cash dividend of 4 rials per share for 2016 as it posted 2016 net profit of 784.8 million rials, compared to 784.2 million rials a year ago.
* Russian President Vladimir Putin on Jan. 25 said the Qatar Investment Authority intends to invest an additional $2 billion in new oil extraction projects in his country, following its recent purchase of a stake in Russia's state-owned oil firm Rosneft, the Financial Times reports.
* The central banks of Iran and Turkey signed a cooperation agreement to address current banking issues between the two countries, including the integration of the two countries' payment networks and the use of national currencies for bilateral trade, the Financial Tribune reports.
* Etihad Islamic Investment purchased 13 million shares in Jordan Dubai Islamic Bank from Bank al Etihad at 1.88 Jordanian dinars per share, increasing its stake in the unit to 61.8%, Reuters reports.
* Tunisia will begin a roadshow Feb. 5 for its planned issuance of a €1 billion eurobond, an insider tells Reuters. Proceeds from the eurobond, which is set to be priced Feb. 14 at 5% to 6%, will be used to cover the nation's deficit after its economy was severely affected following militant attacks that damaged its tourism industry.
EAST AND WEST AFRICA
* Stanbic IBTC Holdings Plc named Yinka Sanni CEO, with effect from Jan. 19, replacing Sola David-Borha, who resigned from the post to become parent Standard Bank Group Ltd.'s CEO for the rest of Africa. Demola Sogunle took over Sanni's duties as CEO of Stanbic IBTC Bank Plc, effective Jan. 25.
* Nigeria presented the African Development Bank with its recovery plan, which includes proposals for privatizing state assets and raising oil production, according to Financial Afrik.
* The Bank of Ghana denied social media reports that it is issuing new denominations of 30 cedis, 100 cedis and 200 cedis.
* New Gambian President Adama Barrow returned to his country from Senegal to take office after his predecessor, Yahya Jammeh, went into exile in Equatorial Guinea under a threat by West African leaders to remove the defeated leader by force, Bloomberg News reports.
* The Central Bank of Kenya canceled the auction of a reopened 15-year Treasury bond worth up to 30 billion shillings that was scheduled this month, Reuters reports.
CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN AFRICA
* Protesters yesterday stormed a Barclays Africa Group Ltd. branch in Durban, South Africa, demanding that the bank pay back money from a bailout provided by the South African Reserve Bank to Bankorp, Bloomberg News writes. The protests followed a leaked draft report by the country's graft ombudsman, stating that Barclays Africa may have received undue state support when it acquired Bankorp in 1992.
* Banco de Moçambique Governor Rogério Zandamela said a cycle of monetary policy tightening undertaken by the central bank had helped stabilize the metical and cool rising consumer prices toward the end of 2016, and expects the trend to continue this year, Jornal Notícias reports.
IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD
Asia-Pacific: Zurich, Bank of China form bancassurance partnership; Fiji maintains policy rate
Europe: RBS adds £3.1B in provisions; Nordea's Q4'16 profit rises; Generali CFO to leave
Latin America: Banrisul could be privatized; Interacciones' Q4'16 profit rises 16.9%
North America: Chinese firm reportedly buying MoneyGram; Harvard to outsource money management
North America Insurance: Health law repeal may come as early as March; Aetna faces lawsuit
Leo Magno, Henni Abdelghani, Pádraig Belton and Helen Popper contributed to this report.
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