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Bahraini bank eyes Saudi, UAE expansion; Kenyan banks urged to rethink plans


* National Bank of Bahrain BSC CEO Jean-Christophe Durand told Reuters that the majority state-owned lender has boosted its investment banking business as it seeks to attract advisory roles in a number of future large-scale infrastructure developments in the country. He added that the bank is also looking to expand its investment banking operations in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

* Dubai Islamic Bank (PJSC) received shareholders' approval to distribute a cash dividend of 45 fils per share for 2017 and to increase its capital through the issuance of 1,647,396,295 shares at 1 UAE dirham apiece, Gulf News wrote.

* A June decision by global index compiler MSCI on whether to upgrade Saudi Arabia to emerging market status will not be influenced by the Saudi Stock Exchange's ability to absorb the planned listing of Saudi Aramco, Reuters wrote, citing Robert Ansari, head of MSCI for the Middle East.

* The Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority has warned Al Sagr National Insurance over the non-occupancy of senior positions and the attribution of duties to external party without receiving the regulatory approval, the insurer said. The regulator gave the company 20 days to correct the issues or face sanctions.

* Banks across the Gulf Cooperation Council countries could benefit from rising global interest rates, Hasnain Malik, global head of equity research at emerging markets bank Exotix Capital, told a Bloomberg conference in London, Arab News wrote.

* Qatar's fiscal deficit is narrowing despite the economic boycott imposed on the country by neighboring Arab states, but the dispute still poses risks to its public finances, according to Fitch Ratings.

* Qatar Islamic Bank (QPSC)'s shareholders approved an increase in the percentage ownership of non-Qataris in the bank's capital to 49% from 25%. They also also approved the distribution of dividends to shareholders at the rate of 50% of the nominal value of share capital, or 5 riyals per share.

* National Bank of Oman SAOG CEO Ahmed Jafar Al-Musalami has resigned, citing personal reasons. The bank's board has appointed Sayyid Wasfi Jamshid Al-Said acting CEO.

* Capital Intelligence revised the national ratings of Alizz Islamic Bank SAOG, National Finance Co. SAOG and Muscat Finance (SAOG), reflecting the recalibration of the agency's national rating scale for Oman. The agency also revised the outlook on Oman International Development & Investment Co. SAOG's ratings to negative from stable.

* Research firm Capital Economics said it expects the Central Bank of Egypt to further lower interest rates by 650 basis points by 2019-end, as inflation is expected to continue its downward trajectory in the next few years, Daily News Egypt wrote.

* Union National Bank – Egypt (SAE)'s board recommended bonus shares distribution at 5% of the company's paid-up capital, Reuters noted.

* Banque Tuniso-Libyenne has inaugurated its new headquarters in Tunis, IlBoursa reported. The bank currently has 240 employees in Tunisia and plans to open six or seven new agencies in the country per year.


* Kenyan lenders such as KCB Group Plc, Equity Group Holdings Plc and Co-operative Bank of Kenya Ltd. have so far struggled to make headway in East African markets and may have to rethink their expansion plans, according to a report by global investment bank Renaissance Capital, Business Daily Africa reported. Rencap's analysis showed that returns from Kenyan banks' regional subsidiaries have declined to less than half of their Kenyan operations.

* Meera Investments Ltd. filed a lawsuit against DFCU Ltd. as it seeks to reclaim land titles for several properties taken over by the latter following Crane Bank Ltd.'s liquidation, the Daily Monitor wrote.

* The Bank of Tanzania has instructed banks and other financial institutions to ensure that they follow robust credit granting and management process to avoid generating new nonperforming loans, The Citizen reported. The regulator also want firms to put in place measures aimed at enhancing their credit-granting procedures and reversing NPL trends.

* HFC Bank (Ghana) Ltd. will raise more than 250 million Ghanaian cedis from shareholders to meet the Bank of Ghana's new capital requirement before December, Anthony Jordan, the bank's managing director, told Joy Business.


* The South African government's decision to increase the rate of value-added tax and reduce spending was a welcome step, Ravi Bhatia a director in S&P Global Ratings' sovereign analyst group, told Reuters. Dondo Mogajane, the director general of the National Treasury, said S&P, Fitch Ratings and Moody's had all privately stated their approval of the measure. The decision comes as Moody's prepares to publish its review for possible downgrade of the country's ratings on or before March 23, the newswire noted.

* South Africa's First National Bank, a unit of FirstRand Ltd., has waived fees for preventing unauthorized debit orders via its electronic channels in an effort to combat debit order fraud, IT News Africa wrote.

* Mozambique's government will meet creditors in London on March 20 to present a debt restructuring proposal, Reuters, Bloomberg News and The Wall Street Journal all reported, citing the country's Finance Ministry. Mozambique plunged into a foreign debt crisis in 2016 when the government acknowledged $2 billion in previously hidden debt, prompting the International Monetary Fund and other donors to halt financing. The government stopped making repayments to bondholders early in 2017 and called for debt renegotiations with creditors.

* Angola's 2018 financing programme envisions 6 billion euros in foreign loans, more than half of which is expected to come from China, Portuguese news agency Lusa reported. About €2.5 billion would reportedly be lent by Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Ltd., with a further €540 million from the Export-Import Bank of China. The government's debt plan also includes a planned issuance of €1.68 billion of eurobonds.

* Leading Angolan lender Banco BIC SA opened a branch in the city of Sumbe in Cuanza Sul province as part of its drive to expand services across the country, Chairman Fernando Teles said, according to state news agency Angop. Banco BIC has 227 branches in 80 municipalities.

* Standard Chartered Bank Zimbabwe Ltd. is set to shutter at least seven branches as part of a plan to centralize its operations, The Financial Gazette wrote.


Asia-Pacific: Japan to check regional banks' defenses; Paytm registers 2 insurance units

Europe: Barclays to double dividend; Axa FY'17 profit up 7%; Deutsche Bank's Brexit move

Latin America: Banco do Brasil's Q4'17 profit shoots up; Paraguay maintains key rate

North America: FDIC sues banks over Doral Bank's failure; BofA extends London HQ lease to 2032

North America Insurance: LIMRA says DOL rule hurt '17 annuity sales; states eye Medicaid work requirement

S&P Global Ratings and S&P Global Market Intelligence are owned by S&P Global Inc.

Sheryl Obejera, Henni Abdelghani, Sophie Davies and Helen Popper contributed to this report.

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