GULF COOPERATION COUNCIL
* Saudi Stock Exchange (Tadawul) named former London Stock Exchange Group PLC CEO Xavier Rolet as a member of its board of directors.
* Saudi Investment Bank appointed Salman Badar al-Fughom deputy CEO, effective Jan.5.
* Shareholders of Walaa Cooperative Insurance Co. will vote Jan. 27 on the proposed merger of the company and fellow Saudi Arabian insurer MetLife AIG ANB Cooperative Insurance Co..
* The decision of the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority to prohibit insurance brokers from exercising insurance and reinsurance services at the same time does not apply on insurance companies as it only applies on brokerage firms, according to Adel al-Eisa, spokesperson of insurance companies in Saudi Arabia, Argaam reported. Speaking to Al Arabiya TV, Al-Eisa said there are 88 insurance brokers in Saudi Arabia that are required to implement the decision and to choose the type of insurance they want to exercise, adding that there are no insurance brokers that exercise reinsurance activity.
* The Central Bank of the United Arab Emirates' control department is working on drafting a comprehensive plan to protect bank customers from banks' mistreatments and failing to solve complaints, Emarat Al Youm reported. The new plan, which is set to be introduced during the first quarter, increases fines imposed on banks that fail to solve customer complaints or those that get more complaints.
* U.K.-based foreign exchange company Travelex Ltd., a subsidiary brand of London-listed, Abu Dhabi-based payments firm Finablr PLC, said it took all of its systems offline after it found a software virus that compromised some services. Finablr said its six other brands are not affected and are operating normally.
* Ronald Bakica resigned as deputy general manager of UAE- based Al Ain Ahlia Insurance Co. PSC.
* Kuwait's Burgan Bank KPSC has agreed to sell its 51.8% stake in Bank of Baghdad PJSC, subject to approval of Iraqi regulatory authorities, to Bahrain-based United Gulf Holding Company B.S.C.. Burgan Bank said the transaction is expected to have a one-time negative impact of about 9 million Kuwaiti dinars on its net income for 2019, but noted that roughly 4 million dinars of this impact would likely be reversed following completion of the transaction.
* Kuwait Bahrain International Exchange Company K.P.S.C. said the board of governors of Kuwait's Capital Markets Authority has accepted the delisting of the company from the local stock market, with its last day in the market being April 27, 2020.
* Bahrain Islamic Bank BSC said the closing for receiving acceptances for National Bank of Bahrain BSC'S offer to acquire the company's shares has been extended until the end of Jan. 15, with the offer's result to be announced Jan. 16.
REST OF MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA
* Several hackers claiming to be from Iran defaced the websites of Sierra Leone Commercial Bank Ltd. and the U.S. Federal Depository Library Program with pro-Iranian and anti-U.S. messages, The Jerusalem Post reported. The hacking comes after a U.S. airstrike in Baghdad last week killed Qassem Soleimani, a general who headed Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps' elite Quds Force, raising fears of an outright armed conflict between the U.S. and Iran.
* Mohammad Rezvanifar, managing director of Iran's Social Security Investment Co., said the company will offer a 5% stake in the company through an IPO on the country's stock market, Financial Tribune wrote, citing state news agency IRNA.
* Lebanon needs a rescue package worth $20 billion to $25 billion to recover from a financial crisis, Reuters reported, citing former Economy Minister Nasser Saidi. Lebanon is reportedly on the verge of defaulting on its debts, with a $1.2 billion eurobond due in March, as the country's politicians have failed to arrange a rescue plan since former Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri's resignation in October 2019.
* Lebanese judicial authorities have requested assistance from Switzerland to help reveal the amount of deposits transferred from Lebanon since Oct. 17, 2019, as part of efforts to repatriate alleged illicit funds, The Daily Star reported, citing Lebanese Justice Minister Albert Serhan.
* Morocco's central bank is set to publish a new overnight benchmark monetary index, called the Moroccan Overnight Index Average, or MONIA, to replace the old benchmark rate in an effort to improve transparency, La Nouvelle Tribune reported.
* Tokio Marine Egypt General Takaful Co. Managing Director Atsushi Yamakage said the Egyptian insurer is targeting annual growth of its direct premium installments of between 10% and 15%, adding that the company plans to establish a strong footprint in the country's market in the coming period to take advantage of growth opportunities, Daily News Egypt reported.
EAST AND WEST AFRICA
* Nigeria-based C & I Leasing Plc said the 2018 financial statements of unit Leasafric Ghana Ltd will be restated to correct some possible errors. The group said it expects the restatement to result in an impact of up to 25.5 million naira on its 2019 results but noted that the amount is considered "not significant."
* The Ghanaian government will seek to raise $3 billion from its diaspora through an investment vehicle that will offer better rates than what depositors usually earn in countries such as the U.S., Bloomberg News wrote, citing Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta. Ofori-Atta said the finance ministry is in talks with the central bank over the proposal and that it plans to launch the program before the end of 2020.
CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN AFRICA
* Angolan banks Banco de Poupança e Crédito SA and Banco Económico SA are moving ahead with plans to carry out recapitalizations in line with demands by the central bank, Jornal de Angola wrote. The regulator has ordered both lenders to carry out a recapitalization to meet tougher new solvency requirements by June 2020. Banco Económico said its recapitalization plan had already been approved by shareholders while BPC said it had until Feb. 28 to present an action plan.
* New capital regulations designed to encourage foreign investment in Angola have been put in place by the central bank, Jornal de Angola reported. Under the new rules, which are part of wider government efforts to attract foreign investment, licenses will no longer be needed to bring capital into the country or expatriate dividends.
* The presidents of Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo called on Isabel dos Santos, the billionaire daughter of former Angolan President José Eduardo dos Santos, her husband Sindika Dokolo and Banco de Fomento Angola SA Chairman Mário Leite da Silva to cooperate with Angolan authorities after their assets were frozen over allegations that they caused the state losses of more than $1 billion, Reuters reported. Portugal's central bank said it is reviewing Isabel dos Santos' suitability as a shareholder of Portuguese lenders following the asset freeze. Meanwhile, Dos Santos told the Financial Times that she is preparing a legal challenge against what she claimed as Angolan President João Lourenço's politically motivated efforts to break up her businesses.
* Banco de Moçambique warned that a steep increase in the country's debt-to-GDP ratio was a risk factor for the local financial system, news website Macauhub and O País reported, citing the central bank's annual financial stability report. The central bank added that high levels of nonperforming loans had led banks to restrict lending, hampering economic activity. However, it said overall risk to financial stability had decreased over the last three years, noting "high rates of bank solvency" and falling interest rates.
* Zimbabwe-based GetBucks Microfinance Bank Ltd.'s annual general meeting for 2019 will be delayed, due to its board's intention to hold the AGM and the extraordinary general meeting on the same day. The company said the latest date that the AGM will be held is Feb. 28.
IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD
Asia-Pacific: China updates lending rules; Indian bourse seeks approval for IPO
Erin Tanchico, Henni Abdelghani, Sophie Davies and Helen Popper contributed to this report.
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