* Global economic losses from natural catastrophes and disasters caused by human activity amounted to $44 billion, compared to the $109 billion first-half average of the previous 10 years and $51 billion in the first half of 2018, according to Swiss Re Institute's preliminary sigma estimates. Global insured losses from natural catastrophes fell to $15 billion from $21 billion the year before, while insured losses from human-caused disasters decreased to $4 billion from $5 billion.
GULF COOPERATION COUNCIL
* The Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority has instructed insurance firms to offer discounts to new drivers and to existing clients with no previous claims, in a bid to promote insurance practices, Okaz wrote.
* Russian lender VTB Bank PJSC has acquired a 19% stake in recently established Qatar-based CQUR Bank, Reuters reported, citing Interfax news agency.
REST OF MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA
* Bank Hapoalim BM reported second-quarter net profit attributable to shareholders of 871 million Israeli shekels, down 5.3% from the year-ago 920 million shekels, as provisions for credit losses rose to 319 million shekels from 90 million shekels. For the first half, the bank's attributable profit increased on a yearly basis to 1.69 billion shekels from 1.55 billion shekels.
* Shareholders in Tunisia's Assurances SALIM SA have officially decided to rename the company BH Assurance, IlBoursa reported.
* Forces of Freedom and Change, Sudan's opposition alliance, will nominate economist Abdalla Hamdok as prime minister in the transitional government that will be created in preparation for the country's free elections, opposition sources told Reuters. A sovereign council is expected to be formed Aug. 18, while the prime minister is set to be appointed Aug. 20.
EAST AND WEST AFRICA
* KCB Group PLC reported first-half group profit after tax and exceptional item and minority interest of 12.72 billion Kenyan shillings, up 5% from 12.11 billion shillings a year earlier, mainly due to growth in the Kenyan lender's loan book and increased mobile channel activity.
* KCB Group CEO Joshua Oigara said the Kenyan lender is confident of closing its offer to acquire peer National Bank of Kenya Ltd., adding that it aims to reach a 90% success rate in convincing the latter's shareholders to accept the offer, Reuters wrote. The Capital Markets Authority previously said that KCB's proposed takeover must be approved by 75% of National Bank of Kenya's shareholders, after a parliamentary committee advised the government, NBK's main shareholder, to reject the offer.
* Kenya's Capital Markets Authority approved the issuance of the country's first green bond, which would be issued by local property developer Acorn Project (Two) LLP, The Star reported. The company aims to raise 5 billion shillings through the unlisted green bond to fund sustainable student accommodation.
* The Bank of Uganda maintained the central bank rate at 10% and said it expects inflation to converge to its 5% target over the medium term while supporting growth. It is the fifth consecutive time that the regulator kept the key lending rate unchanged, Reuters noted.
* Ghana's Securities and Exchange Commission has banned 21 fund managers from accepting new investments as the regulator investigates them for alleged breach of rules by placing clients' money into illiquid assets, resulting in around 9 billion cedis in investments being tied up in the system, Bloomberg News wrote.
CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN AFRICA
* Montfort Mlachila, the IMF's resident representative in South Africa, said the fund does not view South Africa to be in need of financial support as it does not appear to have a problem with its balance of payments, according to Bloomberg. South African central bank Governor Lesetja Kganyago previously said the nation does not need IMF assistance as South Africa's economic problems are still within control.
IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD
Asia-Pacific: Ping An Insurance H1 up 68.1%; MLC to restructure; Japan is top US T-bill holder
Europe: Deutsche chair hunts for successor; Rabobank profit drops; Aegon, NN results up
Latin America: Argentina unveils economic relief measures; StoneCo's Q2 profit jumps 172.7%
North America: SEC charges Canaccord Genuity; Repay Holdings buys TriSource Solutions
Global Insurance: Global insured losses dip; Syncora selling unit; NN Group, Aegon report results
Deza Mones, Henni Abdelghani, Sophie Davies and Mariana Aldano contributed to this report.
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