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MENA news through March 28

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MENA news through March 28

MIDDLE EAST

* Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund is considering the establishment of more offices abroad as it seeks to expand its assets under management to $400 billion by 2020 through overseas and domestic investments, the Financial Times wrote.

* Saudi Arabia was included in the emerging markets list of global index provider FTSE Russell and will be classified as a "secondary emerging" market.

* Saudi Arabian Finance Minister Mohammed al-Jadaan said a number of requests submitted by foreign banks are currently under review, and that operating licenses will be delivered once all reviews are completed, Al-Hayat reported.

* Metlife - AIG - ANB Cooperative Insurance Co. intends to call an extraordinary general assembly before May 9 to address its high accumulated losses. The Saudi insurer warned that failure to convene such assembly or tackle the issue would see the company dissolved.

* Creditors of detained Saudi Arabian businessman Maan al-Sanea are seeking more information on a proposed settlement over approximately 16 billion riyals in claims, insiders told Reuters.

* United Arab Emirates lenders taking part in a panel setting the Emirates Interbank Offered Rates will have to give written reasons for their quotes, which will be used to calculate the rates under a new system, Reuters reported.

* Insurance firms in the UAE are set to go to court over the retroactive imposition of value-added tax on insurance contracts that were signed in 2017 but took effect in 2018, according to Al Khaleej.

* Emirates NBD Bank PJSC shareholders approved the lender's planned capital increase of up to 7.35 billion United Arab Emirates dirhams through a rights issue, subject to regulatory approvals.

* Meanwhile, Emirates NBD Bank could finalize a deal to acquire PAO Sberbank of Russia's Turkish unit DenizBank AS within weeks, sources told Reuters.

* Abraaj Group Ltd. is considering selling its private equity business amid a dispute with investors in a $1 billion healthcare fund over the use of their money, insiders told The Wall Street Journal.

* Emirates Investment Bank PJSC CEO Khaled Sifri said the bank plans to close a number of acquisition transactions in Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Kuwait this year, according to Al Bayan.

* The Qatar Central Bank increased its deposit rate by 25 basis points to 1.75% following a similar rate hike by the U.S. Federal Reserve.

* The Qatar Financial Market Authority and Qatar Financial Center Regulatory Authority signed a memorandum of understanding on regulating operation of corporate investment funds, Lusail News reported.

* Bank Hapoalim BM reported fourth-quarter 2017 net profit attributed to shareholders of 612 million Israeli shekels, up from 138 million shekels in the same period in 2016. For full year 2017, the Israeli lender reported attributable net profit of 2.66 billion shekels, compared to 2.63 billion shekels a year ago.

* Broadridge Financial Solutions Inc. completed the acquisition of Israeli digital technology company ActivePath. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

* The Central Bank of Bahrain confirmed that it has not canceled Turkish lender Türkiye Halk Bankasi AS' license in Bahrain.

* The executive director of financial control at the Central Bank of Bahrain, Khalid Hamad, said the regulator has issued a memo to local banks to set limit of fees imposed on services, adding that discrepancies in charges is unacceptable, Al Ayam reported.

* GFH Financial Group BSC CEO Hisham Al Rais told CNBC Arabia TV that the company is in talks to acquire a financial institution that will open new business for the firm, Argaam reported.

* BBK BSC launched BBK Lite, a retail franchise that will work under the Bahraini lender's retail banking license.

* Investcorp Bank BSC named Jan Erik Back group CFO. Back most recently served as executive vice president and CFO at Sweden-based Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken AB.

* Bank Muscat SAOG appointed Saleh Nasser Al Habsi deputy general manager for global institutional and investment banking, the Times of Oman reported.

* The 15 largest Lebanese banks in terms of assets and deposits saw a 6% rise in net profits to $2.4 billion in 2017, The Daily Star wrote.

NORTH AFRICA

* Morocco's Banque Marocaine du Commerce Extérieur SA, also known as BMCE Bank of Africa, plans to open a branch in Shanghai, Xinhua News Agency reported, citing Moroccan financial daily L'Economiste.

* Bank Al-Tamweel wa al-Inma, the Islamic bank launched by BMCE Bank of Africa and Al Baraka Banking Group BSC in December 2017, has opened two new branches in Morocco, Finance News wrote.

* Attijariwafa Bank SA signed an agreement with World Bank investment arm International Finance Corp. to help boost cross-border trade and investment in Africa and support the continent's smaller businesses.

* Attijariwafa Bank's parent company, Société Nationale d'Investissement, changed its name to Al Mada, Financial Afrik reported.

* Early after-poll estimates indicated that Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is set to win another term by a landslide, Reuters reported.

* Qatar General Insurance & Reinsurance Co. QPSC said Trust Bank Algeria's memorandum of association has been amended to reflect the Qatari insurer's 20% stake in the Algerian bank.

* The Tunisian central bank said the IMF approved the disbursement of a $257 million tranche from the country's four-year, $2.8 billion loan program, bringing the total disbursements thus far to $920 million, Reuters wrote.

Henni Abdelghani and Sophie Davies contributed to this report.