GULF COOPERATION COUNCIL
* Aljazira Takaful Taawuni Co. obtained approval from the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority to transfer an insurance portfolio from Bank AlJazira to the insurer as of January 2020.
* Gulf Union Cooperative Insurance Co. and Al Ahlia for Cooperative Insurance Co. signed a nonbinding memorandum of understanding to evaluate a potential merger. The two insurers said they will conduct technical, financial, legal and actuarial due diligence and engage in nonbinding discussions on the terms and conditions of a potential merger.
* Al Ahlia for Cooperative Insurance Co.'s board of directors approved the cancellation of its recent recommendation to the extraordinary general assembly to increase the company's capital through a rights issue. Al Ahlia said the decision will not affect its financials.
* Noor Bank PJSC's general assembly approved Dubai Islamic Bank's acquisition proposal with a swap ratio of 1 DIB share for every 5.49 Noor Bank shares, Al Khaleej reported.
* A committee of 10 members was set up to review the potential merger between the UAE Commodities and Securities Authority and Insurance Authority, Alroeya reported. The committee is set to complete the study by March 2020.
* Burgan Bank KPSC said Hanan MMohammed Metwalli, group head of compliance, has retired, effective Dec. 30. Adrian Gostuski, group chief international operations and internal control officer, also resigned.
* Kuwait and Middle East Financial Investment Co. KSCP appointed a new board of directors chaired by Hamad Salah al-Dhakir and vice chaired by Ahmed Abdulrazak Albahar.
* Kuwait International Bank KSCP said the general manager of its legal department, Esaam Abdulhameed Aboalfadel Mohamed, resigned from the position and was replaced by Kholoud Bader Mahrous Alsalem as acting general manager of legal department.
* Al Ahli Bank of Kuwait KSCP CEO Michel Accad will retire effective Jan. 15, 2020, according to Mubasher.
* Kuwait Finance House KSCP received regulatory nod to buy or sell no more than 10% of its issued shares for a period of six months starting Dec. 22.
* Wethaq Takaful Insurance said assistant CEO of IT and Administrative Affairs Bahaa Mohammed Maarouf has resigned from his position.
* The Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority said Rowad Insurance Co. of the Cooperative Insurance Agency and Forsan Insurance Agency Ltd. did not comply with regulatory requirements and instructions related to their activities and did not respond to the regulator's notifications about the matter.
REST OF MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA
* The Central Bank of Egypt postponed its monetary policy committee meeting to Jan. 16, 2020, following approval of the formation of the board of directors and the monetary policy committee for the new term. The meeting was initially set for Dec. 26.
* Egypt-based EFG-Hermes Holding SAE and GB Auto SAE will acquire a 75% stake in Tokio Marine Egypt Family Takaful Co., the Egyptian unit of Japan-based Tokio Marine Holdings Inc., for 84.75 million Egyptian pounds.
* Iraq's parliament approved a new electoral law that will allow voters to elect individual lawmakers and have each parliamentarian represent a specific electoral district, Reuters reported. Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi, who resigned in November amid anti-government protests, has remained in office until a replacement is named as political deadlock in parliament delays the selection of an interim prime minister.
* Meanwhile, Iraqi President Barham Salih expressed his willingness to resign rather than approve the nomination of Basra Governor Asaad al-Edani as candidate for prime minister in a bid to "stop blood and maintain peace," multiple media outlets including the Financial Times reported. Salih said Edani's appointment would not appease protesters demanding for an independent prime minister not affiliated with any political parties, Reuters noted.
* Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was re-elected to lead his Likud party into the upcoming national elections set for March 2, 2020, the country's third in less than a year, Bloomberg News reported.
* Riad Salameh, governor of Lebanon's central bank, said "no one knows" how much more the Lebanese pound, which is pegged to the U.S. dollar, would depreciate on the black market, Bloomberg News reported, citing the state-run National News Agency. The central bank's policy on the official rate of 1,507.5 pounds to the dollar remains unchanged, Salameh noted.
EAST AND WEST AFRICA
* The Central Bank of Nigeria mapped out measures aimed at protecting consumers from excess, unapproved or arbitrary charges imposed by banks and other financial institutions, Pulse reported. The measures include a reduction in certain bank charges effective Jan. 1, 2020, and a penalty of 2 million naira, or as may be determined by the regulator from time to time, per infarction against financial institutions that breach any provisions of the revised guidelines.
* Fitch Ratings revised the outlook on the long-term issuer default ratings of Nigerian lenders Zenith Bank PLC, United Bank for Africa PLC, Bank of Industry Ltd. and Guaranty Trust Bank PLC to negative from stable, following a similar action on the sovereign. The agency affirmed the four banks' long- and short-term issuer default ratings at B+/B, among other affirmations.
* STACO Insurance PLC named Alhaji Muhammad Sidi Aliyu chairman of the Nigerian company's board of directors, replacing Samuel Turoti.
* The Central Bank of Kenya no longer has the authority to approve the opening, relocation and closure of any branch of mortgage refinance companies, including the state-backed Kenya Mortgage Refinancing Co., after the Kenyan parliament annulled the corresponding sections in regulations, according to Business Daily Africa.
* Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo has ordered the finance ministry and the Bank of Ghana to work together to ensure the full payment of deposits of affected customers of failed banks as well as microfinance and savings and loan companies whose licenses have been revoked, Citi Business News reported.
* Somalia's central bank ordered commercial banks in the country to close an undisclosed number of accounts related to foreign exchange and asked local financial firms not to hold accounts for any companies involved in currency trading, Finance Magnates reported.
* NSIA Banque Côte d'Ivoire has signed a financing agreement worth 5 billion CFA francs with the French Development Agency as part of the "Choose Africa" initiative in Ivory Coast, wrote Agence Ecofin.
CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN AFRICA
* Zambia's central bank suspended for six months until June 1, 2020, the license of Esna Bureau de Change Ltd. for breach of banking and financial services regulations, according to News Diggers.
* The African Development Bank has imposed sanctions on Zambia for failing to pay arrears worth roughly $14 million, Xinhua reported. The Zambian government, which attributed the delay in the settlement of the bill to the sudden depreciation of the local currency, said it is processing the payment and will finalize it "as soon as possible."
* Angola's debt-to-GDP ratio is expected to end 2019 at 111%, mainly as a result of the steep depreciation of the kwanza currency in the final quarter, according to a report by the International Monetary Fund on the country's extended financing program, the Lusa news agency reported. The IMF said the debt-to-GDP ratio should fall to about 70% at the end of an adjustment period in 2024, but warned that continued low oil prices would worsen debt indicators. It said sudden currency depreciations and declines in crude prices were among the biggest risks for sovereign debt. The kwanza has fallen 33.4% against the dollar this year, though it clawed back some ground in December after the money authority raised reserve requirements, causing some to stop buying dollars in regular auctions, Expansão noted.
* Mozambique's central bank said it expected greater pressure on public spending next year due to post-cyclone reconstruction efforts, adding that inflation was likely to accelerate slightly in the next few months as the economy recovers, O País reported, citing the bank's latest inflation report. The central bank said it would continue to monitor key indicators ahead of the next monetary policy meeting in February 2020.
IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD
Asia-Pacific: Tougher rules for smaller Chinese lenders; India's DHFL to resume operations
North America: JPMorgan's Bear Stearns deal pays off; Santander to challenge fintechs in 2020
Global Insurance: Faxai, Hagibis claims estimates; Admiral cancels JV; Ping An appoints president
Sheryl Obejera, Henni Abdelghani, Sophie Davies and Helen Popper contributed to this report.
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