* Fitch Ratings said its 2018 outlook for sovereign ratings in the Middle East and North Africa is negative, driven by heightened geopolitical risks in the Gulf Cooperation Council, limited structural reforms in a number of countries and still relatively low oil prices.
* Mozambique, Ethiopia, Kenya and Oman are among the top 10 emerging markets most exposed to risks stemming from faster-than-expected interest rate hikes by central banks in developed countries, according to S&P Global Ratings.
* Credit Suisse Group AG appointed Guy Dunning head of sales trading for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, Reuters wrote. He was most recently co-head of Deutsche Bank AG's European high touch cash business.
MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA
* Emirates NBD Bank PJSC sold its 7.56% stake in Bank of Beirut SAL, marking its exit from the Lebanese market, The Daily Star reported. Bank of Beirut acquired the stake at $14 per share, lower than the share's list price of $25.5.
* Data from the Central Bank of the United Arab Emirates showed that banks' gross credit growth rose 2.3% to 1.58 trillion dirhams at the end of the third quarter from 1.545 trillion a year earlier, Khaleej Times wrote.
* Khalid Al-Bustani, director general of the UAE's Federal Tax Authority, stressed that there is no reason to postpone the introduction of value-added tax across all sectors beginning next year, despite calls from banks to be given more time to prepare, Thomson Reuters' Zawya reported. Al-Bustani said banks were made aware of the tax a long time ago and urged them to speed up their execution of tax-related procedures.
* Mizrahi Tefahot Bank Ltd. raised 675 million Israeli shekels in a contingent convertible bonds offering to institutional investors, Reuters wrote. The lender said the debt offering attracted demands of nearly 1 billion shekels and that it was considering increasing the amount issued to up to 770 million shekels.
* Qatar General Insurance & Reinsurance Co. QPSC is to exit Dubai's insurance market. The Qatari insurer, which has a branch in Dubai, said it will prepare and carry out its exit plan from the market after coordination and approval of concerned regulators.
* Saudi Arabia hopes that its sweeping anti-corruption crackdown will boost its chances of joining the Financial Action Task Force, an inter-governmental body established to combating illicit money flows, Reuters reported. The country is one of two G20 nations that are not members of FATF.
* SABB Takaful Co.'s board of directors decided to dismiss CEO Stephen Cosgrove, effective Dec. 14, Argaam wrote. The board appointed Hussam Malaeka acting CEO, effective the same day.
* Saudi Enaya Cooperative Insurance Co.'s board of directors proposed to raise the company's capital through a 200 million riyal rights issue, to be used to support future expansions and boost solvency, Argaam noted.
* Saudi Re for Cooperative Reinsurance Co. has set a Jan. 1, 2018, shareholders' meeting to vote on a plan to reduce the insurer's capital by 19% to 810 million riyals from 1 billion riyals, Argaam noted. The capital reduction, which was approved by Saudi Arabia's Capital Market Authority last month, is intended to offset the company's accumulated losses and support future growth and will not have an impact on its liabilities.
* S&P Global Ratings said Tunisia's banking sector is a weakness for the country's economy and a significant source of contingent liabilities for the government. The agency said tough operating conditions for banks and the slow implementation of banking reforms have led to banks' weak asset quality and low capitalization by regional and international standards.
* S&P Global Ratings affirmed Wethaq Takaful Insurance Co. KSCP's long-term issuer credit and financial strength ratings at BB and revised the outlook to negative from stable. The outlook revision reflects the insurer's weakened liquidity, deteriorated capital adequacy and competitive stress.
* Alinma Tokio Marine Co. appointed Ali bin Salman Al-Ayed an independent board member.
* Capital Intelligence affirmed Jordan Islamic Bank's long- and short-term foreign-currency ratings at BB- and B, respectively, with a negative outlook.
EAST AND WEST AFRICA
* The Bank of Ghana is working on a policy aimed at encouraging individuals with information on banks' misconduct to come forward and offering them whistleblower protection, Graphic Online wrote. The policy, the first of its kind by the regulator, is part of a series of measures set to be introduced in the country's financial sector to promote transparency and accountability.
* The Central Bank of Nigeria has repaid treasury bills worth 340 billion naira instead of rolling them over, in a bid to reduce government borrowing costs, Reuters wrote.
* Liberia's central bank has said that by March 31, 2018, all insurance companies must comply with new capital requirements or have their licenses revoked, Financial Afrik reported. Nonlife insurers will need to maintain a minimum capital of $1.5 million. The requirement for life insurers and reinsurers is $750,000 and $5 million, respectively.
CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN AFRICA
* Standard Bank Group Ltd. appointed Lungisa Fuzile, the former director general of South Africa's National Treasury, CEO of Standard Bank of South Africa Ltd., effective Jan. 15, 2018, Reuters reported. Fuzile will assume some responsibilities from group CEO Sim Tshabalala.
* Meanwhile, Standard Bank is raising credit card fees and in-branch transaction charges beginning January 2018, following similar moves by rivals Absa Bank Ltd. and Nedbank Ltd., Moneyweb wrote.
* The South African state pension fund lost the equivalent of 0.6% of its entire portfolio after Steinhoff International Holdings NV's share price plunged 79% last week, Bloomberg News reported. The Public Investment Corp. and the Government Employees Pension Fund said they will insist on appointing at least two independent non-executive directors at the South African retailer and unit Steinhoff Africa Retail Ltd. amid concerns about the company.
* Angola's state-run Banco de Desenvolvimento de Angola (BDA) will continue to receive funds from the government in order for the development bank to carry out public investments aimed at improving the country's business environment and diversifying production away from the dominant oil industry, according to Economy and Planning Minister Manuel Neto da Costa, state news agency Angop reported.
* The IMF has reiterated calls for Mozambique's government to explain holes in an audit into some $2 billion in state-guaranteed loans to three state companies, the fund said in a briefing on the country's recent Article IV evaluation. The country's economic growth continued to slow, with a "challenging" outlook, according to the report, which also called for fiscal tightening policies and faster monetary policy easing.
* Ousted Zimbabwean Finance Minister Ignatius Chombo, who was taken into custody by the military in the run-up to Robert Mugabe's resignation as president, is facing new corruption charges from the independent Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission, Reuters reported. The watchdog accused Chombo of criminal abuse of office during his time as government minister in 2005.
IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD
Asia-Pacific: Indonesia, Philippines hold policy rates; ASIC to monitor P2P lenders
Europe: UBS reshuffles top brass; Aegon chair retiring; SEB divests Danish pension biz
Latin America: Ecuador VP jailed in graft case; Itaú to buy back up to 1.18B reais of shares
North America: Fed raises rates; Yellen says bitcoin 'highly speculative'
North America Insurance: GOP tax bill to repeal individual mandate; Maryland extends enrollment deadline
S&P Global Ratings and S&P Global Market Intelligence are owned by S&P Global Inc.
Sheryl Obejera, Henni Abdelghani, Pádraig Belton, and Helen Popper contributed to this report.
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