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Bank Audi's 2016 profit rises 17%; African Union admits Morocco

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Bank Audi's 2016 profit rises 17%; African Union admits Morocco

* Chadian Foreign Minister Moussa Faki Mahamat was elected chairperson of the African Union Commission, replacing Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. The AU also admitted Morocco as its newest member, more than three decades after the country withdrew from the continental bloc's predecessor, the Organisation of African Unity, according to The Wall Street Journal.

* Insurance brokers Olivier Dubois and Olivier Canuel announced the creation of a new pan-African insurance brokerage group, Olea, in partnership with the French group Siaci Saint Honoré, Financial Afrik writes. The new company is already operating in Ivory Coast and Benin after taking over the operations of Afrikassur, which was previously created by Siaci Saint Honoré. Olea intends to rapidly expand and have subsidiaries in more than 20 African countries, according to Dubois.

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

* BMI Research forecast that banks in the Gulf Cooperation Council will face strong headwinds this year as the oil price slump continues to negatively affect liquidity and lending opportunities, Arabian Business writes. However, the headwinds are likely to be offset by the increase in sovereign debt issuances and the opening up of Iran's market.

* Bank Audi SAL reported consolidated net profit of $470 million in 2016, up 17% from a year ago. The rise was driven by an increase in consolidated assets, which rose year over year by $2.2 billion to $44.4 billion at the end of 2016.

* Burgan Bank KPSC named Raed Al-Haqhaq deputy CEO, the Kuwait Times writes. He previously served as the lender's chief banking officer.

* The board of Gulf Bank KSCP proposed to pay a cash dividend of 7 Kuwaiti fils per share for 2016, up from the year-ago payout of 4 fils per share, Reuters writes.

* Central Insurance of Iran is poised to ban general insurance companies from accepting reinsurance risks from the next fiscal year starting March 21, Middle East Insurance Review reports. Mostafa Kiaei, CEO of Amin Re, said the measure would make the reinsurer's shares more attractive to general insurers in light of the impending sale of the government's 14% stake in the firm by March.

* Tunisian Finance Minister Lamia Zribi said the country will require about $2.85 billion in external funding this year and announced plans to issue a $500 million Islamic bond to help plug its budget deficit, Reuters reports. Zribi also confirmed that the government intends to sell a €1 billion eurobond, with a roadshow set Feb. 5.

* Sudan's Foreign Ministry said U.S. President Donald Trump's recent executive order temporarily banning entry into the U.S. of nationals from Sudan and six other countries was an inopportune development for the North African nation, as it took place just weeks after the previous U.S. administration lifted sanctions against it, Bloomberg News reports. Former state minister of finance Abda el-Mahdi said the benefits for Sudan of lifting the sanctions are "tremendous," the greatest of which in the short term is the international opening of bank transfers and the return of correspondent banking relationships.

EAST AND WEST AFRICA

* The Central Bank of Kenya maintained its benchmark lending rate at 10.0% on expectations that inflation will remain within the government's target range of between 2.5% to 7.5% in the short term. The central bank also decided to suspend the Kenya Bankers Reference Rate, which was designed to provide a credit pricing framework for lenders, following the adoption of the law capping banks' interest rates.

* The Nigerian government hired Goldman Sachs and Stanbic as advisers for the sale of a debut diaspora bond that will be marketed to Nigerians living overseas, Reuters reports. The bond will be rolled out before the second half, rather than in March as initially scheduled, Agence Ecofin notes. The country first announced plans to sell the bonds in 2013 with an aim to raise between $100 million to $300 million.

* The Nigerian currency yesterday fell to 500 naira against the U.S. dollar on the black market despite the government's efforts to curb the currency's rout following a devaluation in June 2016, Bloomberg News writes, citing abokiFX.com.

* Ken Ofori-Atta assumed office as Ghana's finance minister.

CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN AFRICA

* Chadian President Idriss Déby dismissed Finance Minister Mbogo Ngabo Seli, Agence Ecofin reports. He is the second minister to be dismissed in less than a month, following the suspension of Mining Minister Gomdigué Baïdi Lomey in December 2016. The country's economy has been severely affected by the fall in oil prices.

* The Banco Nacional de Angola sold €633.4 million in foreign currency to local commercial banks last week, nearly double the amount sold in the previous week, Novo Jornal reports.

* South African Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan accused members of the Gupta family of instigating a campaign against him and the National Treasury, Reuters reports, citing court documents. The affidavit follows similar court filings by the the Guptas, who accused Gordhan of conducting a vendetta against the family and damaging their businesses after major South African banks cut business ties with them amid controversy over their links to South African President Jacob Zuma.

* Standard Bank Group Ltd. joined blockchain consortium R3 as part of its push to explore the advantages that the technology can add to its cross-border payment solutions, BizNis Africa writes.

IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD

Europe: More Co-op Bank intervention; Allianz eyes QBE; Bankia posts results

Latin America: BTG mulls split listings for bank, PE ops; new chief at Bansefi

North America: Wells wrestles with shareholder proposals; Citi exiting mortgage servicing biz

North America Insurance: RLI to exit RV insurance market; Oregon invests in ACA outreach efforts

Leo Magno, Sarah Raslan, Sophie Davies and Mariana Aldano contributed to this report.

The Daily Dose Middle East and Africa has an editorial deadline of 5 a.m. London time. Some external links may require a subscription.