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MENA news through Oct. 5


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MENA news through Oct. 5

* The Middle Eastand North Africa reinsurance markets are expected to harden over the next 12months amid a series of major insured losses in the Gulf Cooperation Council aswell as the retrenchment of some leading market participants, the Qatar FinancialCentre said in its September MENA Reinsurance Barometer.While the MENA region remains an attractive, high-growth, low-catastrophemarket, with positive effects on the diversification of global risk portfolios,many reinsurers operating in the region have recently suffered significantlosses and view current pricing levels as technically insufficient.


* , which alreadyhas a securities and equities business in Saudi Arabia, is to secure a full bankinglicense in the kingdom. Iqbal Khan, head of the bank's international wealthmanagement business in Latin America, Europe, the Middle East and Africa, saidthe Swiss lender hired 45 relationship managers across the Middle East in 2015.

* The SaudiArabian Monetary Agency ordered the country's banks to reschedule consumer loansafter the government decided to cut financial incentives for public-sectorworkers. The central bank is also examining how commercial banks shouldreschedule housing mortgage loans following the government's austeritymeasures, Reuters reported,citing Saudi paper Al-Riyadh.

*Aggregate profits of Saudi Arabian banks in August rose 6% from a year ago to3.8 billion riyals, Argaam reported,citing central bank data. Meanwhile, assets held by the Saudi Arabian MonetaryAgency fell 8 billion riyals on a monthly basis and 380 billion riyals on ayearly basis to 2.17 trillion riyals in August, Argaam noted.

* The Central Bankof the United Arab Emirates warned local banks about a potential cyberattackdubbed "Folding Elephant" and conducted by a group called "TheHanover," Al Khaleej reported.

* Farshad Heydari,Central Bank of Iran's deputy for supervisory affairs, said the regulator willintroduce a new rating system for the country's lenders, but these ratings willnot be disclosed to the public, the Financial Tribune wrote. Iranian banks will be rated beginning Oct. 22 andwill be classified into four categories.

* State-owned lender Bank Maskan is in talks with the Iranian central bankand the Securities and Exchange Organization of Iran to issue 100 trillionrials of MBS within the fiscal year ending March 2017, the Financial Tribune reported. Mohsen Azizi, a board member at thebank, said the issuance is in line with the government's plan to sell 400trillion rials of Islamic securities by the end of the current fiscal year.

* Turkish investment bank Unlu & Co. intends to completeits acquisition of a majority stake in an unnamed Iranian brokerage firm in thenext six months, Reuters wrote.The company has also set up an open-ended fund to invest in Iranian firms.

* The Qatar StockExchange will introduce regulated margin trading as part of efforts to improveliquidity on the stock market and provide new financing channels for investors,Reuters reported, citing Qatar Stock Exchange CEO Rashidal-Mansoori.

* 'sBermuda-based unit QatarReinsurance Co. Ltd. obtained regulatory to operate a branch office inSingapore.

* Qatari privateinvestment firm Al Faisal Holding will acquire 's78.5% stake in unit BanifBank (Malta) Plc, MaltaToday reported, citing Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat andAl Faisal Chairman Faisal Bin Qassim Al Thani. The remaining 21.52% stake inthe Maltese lender is held equally by four Maltese shareholders.

* obtained centralbank approval to establish and register Bahrain's first retail real estateinvestment trust, Eskan Bank Realty Income Trust, Thomson Reuters' Zawya reported. Ahmad Tayara, the lender's chief business officerand deputy general manager, said the bank is looking to invite private andpublic sector real estate players to include their assets in the Sharia-compliantREIT.

* is said tohave laid off more than 200employees over the last three months, mostly in its retailbusiness, Bloomberg News reported.

* Ewen McRobbie COO. Hepreviously worked at Qatar Insurance Co., including as CEO of and CEO of QIC International.

* The Israeli High Court of Justice turned down a petitionby bankers and insurers against a new law curbing executive pay in thefinancial services sector at 2.5 million shekels annually, or not exceeding 35xthe lowest salary at the company, Haaretzreported.The court argued that the law was neither "illegitimate nor illegal,"but acknowledged that agreements on pension and severance pay that predated thelegislation need not be altered.


*  willacquire 's retail andcorporate banking business in Egypt. The transaction is expected to becompleted by 2016-end. The $500 million deal is projected to boost BarclaysBank's common equity Tier 1 ratio and reduce its workforce by about 1,500employees, the Financial Times noted.

* acquireda 60% stake in New York-based broker Auerbach Grayson, which specializes inemerging markets, for $24 million, accordingto Daily News Egypt.

* The World Bankwill lend Egypt $1 billion to help the country boost its fiscal balances andsupport energy reforms, Amwal Al Ghad wrote.The World Bank also approved a $5.2 billion loan for the Middle East and NorthAfrica region to support 15 projects this fiscal year.

* Meanwhile, Egyptian Deputy Finance Minister Mohamed Meait saidthe IMF will discuss Egypt's $12 billion loan program at a future executiveboard meeting and not at its annual meeting this week, as the latter is notintended for executive board members, Reuters wrote. Conditions for the bailout deal will includesubsidy reform, flotation of the pound and an introduction of VAT, DailyNews Egypt reported.

* Central Bank ofLibya Governor Saddek Elkaber could be replaced at the end of his tenure thismonth, the Libya Herald reported. However, insiders said a succession is unlikelydue to a political division in the country. Mohamed Najeeb al-Jamil, Jamalal-Malik, Idris Alahemer, Mohamed al-Shukri and Tarek Yousef Magarief are amongpotential successors.

Henni Abdelghani contributedto this report.