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Saudi insurers end merger talks; Bahrain's Investcorp invests in Swiss lender

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Saudi insurers end merger talks; Bahrain's Investcorp invests in Swiss lender

* Credit Suisse Group AG appointed Christophe Desprez vice chairman of its investment banking and capital markets unit for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, Reuters reported, citing a memo confirmed by a company spokesman.

GULF COOPERATION COUNCIL

* Abraaj Group Ltd.'s fund unit received a bid of $1 from Actis LLP, insiders told Bloomberg News.

* Walaa Cooperative Insurance Co. said its board of directors has resolved not to continue merger discussions with Al Sagr Cooperative Insurance Co. as such deal was deemed not feasible.

* Saudi Stock Exchange (Tadawul) CEO Khalid al-Hussan said the exchange expects IPOs to increase in 2019 and the launch of stock index futures to smooth an anticipated heavy influx of foreign funds in the period, Reuters reported.

* Amana Cooperative Insurance Co. received a final warning from the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority regarding the weak performance of its risk-management committee. The insurer has 20 days to fix the issues identified by SAMA to avoid regulatory actions against it.

* The Capital Market Authority of Saudi Arabia approved Bupa Arabia For Cooperative Insurance Co.'s plan to hike its capital to 1.2 billion riyals from 800 million riyals through the issuance of 1 bonus share for every 2 existing shares held by qualified shareholders.

* Bahrain-based Investcorp Bank BSC acquired a minority stake in Swiss private bank Banque Pâris Bertrand Sturdza SA for an undisclosed sum. Investcorp said the bank, which manages CHF5.3 billion in assets, will be renamed Banque Pâris Bertrand SA (PB) and will remain operationally independent. The Financial Times reported that the stake Investcorp acquired was more than 40%.

* Kuwait's Warba Bank KSCP said it obtained approval from the country's Capital Markets Authority to increase its capital to 150 million dinars from 100 million dinars, CPI Financial reported.

REST OF MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

* Iran is shelving plans to transfer roughly €300 million of funds held in Germany-based Europäisch-Iranische Handelsbank AG back to the Middle East nation following strong opposition from the U.S., insiders told Reuters.

* Israel Securities Authority Chair Anat Guetta said the country plans to set up publicly traded funds that will invest in local infrastructure projects in the coming weeks, Zawya reported. Guetta added that the funds, which will be traded on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, will benefit from tax breaks if they invest solely in infrastructure and distribute profits to investors.

* National Bank of Egypt SAE said it secured a $600 million loan from China Development Bank, which it will use to fund the working capital of its customers, Reuters wrote.

* Egypt's Financial Supervisory Authority is set to finalize regulations for short selling of shares by the end of the month and is preparing to launch the mechanism in early 2019, the agency's Deputy Chairman Khaled el-Nashar told Reuters.

* Egypt signed insurance contracts with two unnamed international banks to hedge against fluctuating global oil prices, Reuters reported, citing an anonymous senior government official.

* Said el-Alj has replaced Nadia Fettah as president of the board of Morocco's Saham Assurance SA, following the takeover by South Africa's Sanlam earlier this year, Financial Afrik wrote.

EAST AND WEST AFRICA

* The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation aims to coordinate with Kenya's central bank on launching a free software program dubbed Mojaloop that will allow Kenyans to transact money across different banks and telecommunication firms, Business Daily Africa wrote. The foundation has also begun talks with banking regulators in Tanzania and Nigeria.

* Kenya's public prosecutor accused Hassan Zubeidi, the former chairman of Nairobi-based Dubai Bank Kenya, of taking part in a fraudulent cash transaction between 2013 and 2015 that led to Kenya Airways losing roughly 521.9 million Kenyan shillings, Business Daily Africa reported.

* Africa-focused investment firm Atlas Mara Ltd. closed the acquisition of additional shares of Union Bank of Nigeria PLC, raising its stake in the bank to 49% from 48%. The completion was announced together with Atlas Mara's first-half results, which saw its after-tax profit for the period more than double to $28.6 million from the year-ago $11.5 million.

* KPMG, the receiver for now-defunct uniBank (Ghana) Ltd., has turned to the High Court in its bid to make the bank's founder Kwabena Duffuor and 16 other individuals liable for engaging in illegal transactions and make them repay roughly 5.71 billion Ghanaian cedis owed to the lender, Joy Online reported.

CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN AFRICA

* Anoop Nilamber will replace Sridhar Nagarajan as CEO of Mauritius-based MauBank Ltd., lexpress.mu wrote.

* Democratic Republic of the Congo opposition leader and former vice president Jean-Pierre Bemba was disqualified from running in this year's presidential election by the country's constitutional court, citing his conviction for witness-tampering by the International Criminal Court in 2017, the Financial Times reported. Bemba was viewed as one of the leading candidates to succeed President Joseph Kabila, Reuters noted.

IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD

Asia-Pacific: Westpac weighs financial planning arm sale; Anbang taps JPMorgan for Vivat deal

Europe: EU money-laundering shortcomings; TSB Pester's £1.7M in spotlight

Latin America: Chile maintains key rate; Costa Rica parliament OKs merger of state-owned banks

North America: Morgan Keegan settles Fairfax suit; Bank of Canada expected to keep rates steady

Global Insurance: Scor splits P&C biz; Enstar withdraws StarStone sale; Gordon flash flooding

Deza Mones, Henni Abdelghani, Sophie Davies and Helen Popper 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. Links are current as of publication time, and we are not responsible if those links are unavailable later.