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Dubai financial regulator probes Abraaj; Liberian central bank head resigns

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Dubai financial regulator probes Abraaj; Liberian central bank head resigns

* Orange SA is collaborating on a venture with Ivory Coast's NSIA Participations SA to set up banking operations in West Africa as part of the French telecommunications company's efforts to diversify into financial services, insiders told Bloomberg News. Orange will own 75% of the enterprise — which plans to offer retail banking services, micro loans and insurance — and NSIA will own the remaining 25% stake. The two groups plan to ask the Central Bank of West African States for approval later in July.

* Willis Towers Watson PLC announced plans to move its businesses in 14 African countries including Algeria, Niger, and Togo to a new ownership structure and secure strategic partnerships or correspondent relationships with the new owners. The U.K. insurance broker also disclosed that it recently divested its Morocco and Mauritania operations, and that it now has correspondent relationships, run by existing management teams, in the two countries.

* Doha Insurance Group QPSC obtained final approval from the Qatar Central Bank to set up a representative office in Beirut, Lebanon under the name Mena Re Life.

GULF COOPERATION COUNCIL

* The Dubai Financial Services Authority has interviewed Abraaj Group Ltd. founder Arif Naqvi, along with other senior executives, as part of an investigation into allegations of mismanagement at the firm, insiders told Reuters. Abraaj has been embroiled in controversy in recent months after some investors in its $1 billion healthcare fund accused it of misusing funds.

* UAE Banks Federation Chairman Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair said local banks have imposed a 5% VAT on all fees beginning July 1, Al Bayan reported. He added that the central bank has approved banks' request to increase 43 types of fees by up to 5%.

* Fitch Ratings affirmed Sharjah Islamic Bank PJSC's BBB+/F2 long- and short-term issuer default ratings, with a stable outlook on the long-term ratings.

* The board of Riyad Bank has recommended a dividend distribution of 37 Saudi Arabian halalas per share for the first half.

* The Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority has amended the unified motor insurance policy, obliging insurers to inform clients about the status of their claims in less than 3 days from submitting the request, Al Jazira reported. Insurer will also be required to close the complaint within 15 days. The new regulation will take effect in early September.

* Capital Intelligence Ratings affirmed Arab National Bank's financial strength rating at A with a stable outlook.

REST OF MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

* EU lawmakers gave approval for the European Investment Bank to do business in Iran as part of efforts to save the nuclear deal with the country, after U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw from the deal and reinstate sanctions on the Middle Eastern nation, Reuters reported.

* Morocco's House of Representatives has approved a draft law seeking to revise the status of Bank Al-Maghrib by broadening of the scope of its missions, La Nouvelle Tribune wrote. The bill aims to bring the bank's status in line with international standards and to strengthen its independence and governance.

EAST AND WEST AFRICA

* Central Bank of Liberia Governor Milton Weeks has stepped down from his post midway through his five-year term, Reuters noted. He is replaced by Nathaniel Patray.

* Moody's said it expects Fidelity Bank PLC, Union Bank of Nigeria PLC, First City Monument Bank Ltd., Sterling Bank Plc, and Diamond Bank PLC to grow their earnings materially over the long-term. However, the rating agency noted that operating conditions in Nigeria will remain challenging over the next 18 months, as the economy slowly recovers from the 2016 recession.

* Ivory Coast Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly was reappointed to his post to form a new government, after President Alassane Ouattara dissolved the previous one amid infighting within the ruling coalition, Reuters wrote.

* Coris Bank International Togo named Alassane Kaboré its new general manager, replacing Sanou Seydou, Financial Afrik reported. Kaboré was previously director of risks at Coris Bank Mali.

CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN AFRICA

* Capitec Bank Holdings Ltd. CFO André du Plessis said the lender is yet to be contacted by the National Credit Regulator since the South African Reserve Bank referred the multi-loan products case to the regulator, according to Bloomberg. SARB earlier confirmed that it had asked the NCR to look into whether Capitec had continued to use its multi-loan products, which Viceroy Research criticized in a January report for its fee structure.

* The South African Reserve Bank confirmed that it has secured a guarantee from the National Treasury of up to 100,000 rand per VBS Mutual Bank retail depositor. Details on the repayment of retail deposits will be announced July 9.

IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD

Asia-Pacific: IDBI Federal Life stake sale in limbo; South Korea to fine Samsung Securities

Europe: Sabadell sells bad loans; 2 Swiss banks to merge; Slovakia lifts buffer rate

Latin America: BB Seguridade replaces CEO; Peru establishing new agriculture fund

Deza Mones, Henni Abdelghani, Sophie Davies and Mariana Aldano 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.