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NCB, Riyad Bank drop merger talks; Groupe BPCE to sell stake in Tunisian bank


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NCB, Riyad Bank drop merger talks; Groupe BPCE to sell stake in Tunisian bank

* French President Emmanuel Macron is set to meet his Côte d'Ivoire counterpart, Alassane Ouattara, this week to discuss concerns over the French-backed CFA franc, which could include a possible rethink of the currency, the Financial Times reported. The euro-pegged currency is used by certain west and central African member countries, which have an arrangement with France to keep half of their foreign reserves in the European nation, on which the French treasury pays an interest. France is said to be losing appetite for the arrangement.

* Moody's said the outlook for nonfinancial corporates in the GCC, Turkey and South Africa for the next 18 months is negative, citing a combination of increased geopolitical risk, policy unpredictability and slowing economic growth.


* The board of directors of Saudi Arabian lenders National Commercial Bank and Riyad Bank have agreed to end their merger discussions. NCB reportedly abandoned its planned merger with Riyad Bank after they failed to reach an agreement on the latter's valuation, according to Bloomberg News. A tie-up would have created an entity with roughly $200 billion in assets.

* Dubai-based Amlak Finance PJSC said it has made significant progress with its creditors in renegotiating the terms of its financial restructuring plan agreed in 2014 and that it expects to sign a new agreement before the end of 2019. The company said it also expects to book net profit of 9 million dirhams in 2020, but that this will likely decline to losses of 19 million dirhams and 17 million dirhams in in 2021 and 2022, respectively.

* First Abu Dhabi Bank PJSC has expanded its presence in Saudi Arabia after opening a branch in Jeddah, which will be its third one in the country after it commenced operations in Riyadh and Al Khobar earlier this year.

* Abu Dhabi-based AL Khazna Insurance Co. P.S.Csaid it is reducing its capital to 150 million dirhams from 420 million dirhams to address accumulated losses of 393.7 million dirhams as of Nov. 21.

* Qatar First Bank LLC (Public) has obtained all necessary approvals for the reduction of its paid-up capital to 700 million shares, with a nominal value of one riyal per share, from 2 billion shares, which it expects the Qatar Stock Exchange to carry out Dec. 23.

* The Central Bank of Kuwait has requested local banks to submit detailed reports about shareholders of the banks whose ownership exceeds 5%, and to submit regular periodic reports about ownerships of less than 1%, Al-Jarida reported. The move aims to protect banks and set proactive measures as foreign ownership was increased recently.

*The board of directors of Kuwait and Middle East Financial Investment Company K.S.C.P. said the takeover offer presented by Al- Zukair General Trading and Contracting Co. to acquire the remaining shares of its 25.67% stake for 59 fils per share is less than the 60 fils per share suggested by an independent consultancy. Therefore, the board of directors said it is up to shareholders to sell their shares or not.


* Lebanon's central bank has purchased 3 trillion Lebanese pounds of treasury bills from the government at well below market rates, and is set to buy a further half of the amount at the same rate of 1% by the end of the year to bring down the government's mounting debt costs, an insider told Bloomberg News.

* Lebanon's BLOM BANK SAL said it is board of directors called for an extraordinary general assembly today for the review and approval of a proposed increase in its capital to comply with a request from the central bank, The Daily Star reported.

* Moody's said potential aid from the IMF and World Bank for Lebanon is credit positive for the country and reduces risk of extreme macroeconomic instability, Reuters reported.

* The Central Bank of Egypt will boost its financing aid package for struggling tourism firms and investors to 50 billion pounds from 5 billion pounds and will extend the aid to other investors in the sector, which the central bank said is one of the country's largest sources of foreign currency, Reuters reported.

* Egypt-based Mubasher International Trade for Securities' shareholders approved a plan to increase the company's capital to 63 million pounds from 21 million pounds, Mubasher reported, citing Ehab Rashad, vice chairman of MubasherTrade's parent Mubasher Capital Holding for Financial Investments. Rashad said the capital increase will help MubasherTrade's expansion plans, which include obtaining licenses to provide underwriting, promotion, and custodian services.

* France's Groupe BPCE has decided to sell its 60% stake in Banque Tuniso-Koweitienne to the Tunisian state, Agence Ecofin reported. The French banking group holds the stake through BPCE International et Outre-mer SA. The deal takes the Tunisian state's share in the entity to 80%. The remaining 20% of shares are held by sovereign wealth fund Kuwait Investment Authority.


* Egyptian investment firm EFG-Hermes Holding SAE said it expects Kenya's central bank to further slash its benchmark rate by between 50 basis points and 100 basis points by the end of the first quarter of 2020, Business Daily Africa reported.

* Denmark's Investment Fund for Developing Countries acquired 1,750 Class B shares, worth about $20 million, in Eastern and Southern African Trade and Development Bank Eastern and Southern African Trade and Development Bank, making it the Burundi-based lender's largest institutional investor, Business Daily Africa wrote.

* The IMF struck a staff-level agreement with Cape Verde authorities on the first review under the program supported by the policy coordination instrument, noting that the asset quality of the country's banks has been weakened by their persistently high level of nonperforming loans.

* The African Development Bank's board of directors approved a €20 million loan to boost the competitiveness of Cape Verde's private sector.


* Fitch Ratings affirmed the AAA(zaf) national long-term ratings and national insurer financial strength ratings of South Africa-based Santam Ltd., Sanlam Developing Markets Ltd. and Sanlam Life Insurance Ltd. The agency also affirmed Sanlam Ltd.'s AA+(zaf) national long-term rating and Sanlam Life Insurance's F1+(zaf) national short-term rating, with stable outlooks on all of the long-term ratings.

* The recapitalization process of Banco de Poupança e Crédito SA may cost the Angolan state up to $2 billion, according to Fitch Ratings. The agency says that the amount represent 2% of the country's GDP and warns that Angolan banks have until June 2020 to update and correct their capital needs, Jornal de Negócios reported.

* The IMF agreed to disburse a $368.4 million credit facility to shore up the Democratic Republic of Congo's declining reserves, and said it will send staff to Congo through the end of May 2020 to help the country prepare for its first formal loan program since 2012, Bloomberg News reported, citing an emailed statement from the fund.

* The IMF's executive board completed the fourth and fifth reviews of Gabon's economic program supported by an extended arrangement under the extended fund facility, allowing the disbursement of roughly $123.5 million to the country.

* Zimbabwe-based bank FBC Holdings Ltd.'s board of directors declared a second interim dividend of 2.98 cents per share for its ordinary shares in issue Dec. 12, with the dividend expected to be paid on or about Jan. 9, 2020.

* Fidelity Life Assurance of Zimbabwe Ltd. is still in talks over a potential restructuring of its capital structure through a rights offer.

* Zimbabwean lender ZB Financial Holdings Ltd. said it expects the operating environment in the country to remain difficult despite the government's implementation of monetary and fiscal policy measures to stabilize the economy, adding that it will continue to focus on preserving capital and managing cost expansion against revenue growth to secure the sustainability of its operations in the future.


Asia-Pacific: South Korea OKs 3rd internet bank; Australia launches Westpac probe

Europe: Deutsche eyes bonus cut; 2 German banks to begin M&A talks; Italian bank rescue

Latin America: BNDES mulls divesting stake in Petrobras; Brazil's B3 releases 2020 guidance

North America: Group files for Atlanta de novo; JPMorgan to up China investment

Global Insurance: Humana deal; US health insurance outlook; Mapfre warning; Japan Post probe

Erin Tanchico, Henni Abdelghani, Sophie Davies and Mariana Aldano contributed to this report.

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This S&P Global Market Intelligence news article may contain information about credit ratings issued by S&P Global Ratings. Descriptions in this news article were not prepared by S&P Global Ratings.