* Sandeep Agarwal, Credit Suisse Group AG's chairman of debt capital markets solutions for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, has left the Swiss lender, insiders told Reuters.
GULF COOPERATION COUNCIL
* Saudi Arabia-based lenders National Commercial Bank and Riyad Bank are in search of advisers for their possible merger, with request for proposals sent out to banks including Credit Suisse and HSBC Holdings Plc, insiders told Bloomberg News. The appointment of formal advisers for the transaction could potentially take place this month. The combined entity would hold $182 billion in assets, becoming the third-largest bank in the Gulf.
* The United Arab Emirates' economy minister and Insurance Authority Chairman Sultan bin Saeed al-Mansoori said insurance premiums generated in 2018 reached 50 billion dirhams for the first time, adding that the sector grows at an average of 10% per year, Emarat Al Youm reported.
* Bahrain Kuwait Insurance Co. BSC completed the acquisition of 3,991,187 shares in Takaful International Co. BSC with a total value of 340.2 million Bahraini dinars. Following the transaction, BKIC's stake in Takaful International rose to roughly 81.9% from 77.2%.
* National Bank of Kuwait SAKP has launched Swift Global Payments Innovation services for its customers, becoming the first bank in the country to implement the technology allowing real-time cross border transactions.
* Al Omaniya Financial Services said Hina Dharamsey has obtained approval from the Central Bank of Oman to increase shareholding in the company to up to 14%.
REST OF MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA
* Central Bank of Sudan Governor Mohamed Khair al-Zubair said the country is looking for potential foreign funding and unveiled a plan to increase revenue, print more banknotes and bring in hard currency as part of efforts to ease Sudan's economic crisis, Bloomberg wrote.
* Iran and Syria are looking at establishing a joint bank in a bid to expand bilateral economic cooperation between the two countries, the Tehran Times wrote.
* The Iranian government will be allowed to securitize up to 200 trillion rials of its debts to banks under its new budget bill, the Financial Tribune reported.
EAST AND WEST AFRICA
* Kenya-based Britam Holdings PLC said it expects its 2018 earnings to fall by at least 25% from a year earlier, primarily due to the performance of the stock market and the "challenging" operating environment, Business Daily Africa reported. The insurance group expects to post a net profit of up to 395.5 million shillings for 2018, compared to 527.4 million shillings posted in 2017.
* Six unidentified indigenous banks in Ghana agreed to a 280 million cedi bailout package from the government, relinquishing part of their stakes in exchange for equity investment from the state to meet the central bank's new minimum capital requirement by the 2018-end deadline, Joy Business wrote.
* Bank of Africa Ghana Ltd. expects to complete the recapitalization process to meet the Bank of Ghana's new 400 million cedi minimum capital requirement and receive full approval from the central bank by Jan. 7, Graphic Online reported.
CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN AFRICA
* South African Reserve Bank Deputy Governor Francois Groepe has resigned, effective Jan. 31, "to pursue outside opportunities." The central bank said the process of appointing his successor is currently underway. Groepe is stepping down following debate over the direction of South Africa's monetary policy, according to Reuters.
* Angola's central bank will make foreign currencies amounting to €610 million available for commercial banks this month, with daily auctions for the selling prices, Dinheiro Vivo wrote.
* The Democratic Republic of the Congo's electoral commission warned that results from the Dec. 30, 2018, presidential election could be delayed past the Jan. 6 deadline as vote-counting centers had received just 17% of local tallies, according to Reuters.
IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD
Asia-Pacific: Syndicate Bank, SBI Life ink bancassurance deal; IAG boosts catastrophe cover
Europe: Deutsche Bank chair rules out need for state aid; Carige capital woes in focus
Latin America: Chairmen resign from BTG, Banco do Brasil; Banco Itapúa in merger talks
North America: Equifax may come under regulatory scanner; banks look to cut credit card rewards
Global Insurance: Reinsurance prices fall; AIG, Arch complete purchases; Fidelis launches sidecar
Deza Mones, Henni Abdelghani, Sophie Davies and Mariana Aldano contributed to this report.
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