MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA
* Saudi British Bank selected Goldman Sachs as an adviser on a potential merger with Alawwal Bank, insiders told Reuters.
* Bank loans issued to the private sector and public nonfinancial institutions in Saudi Arabia declined 0.2% on a yearly basis to 1.47 trillion Saudi Arabian riyals in April, Argaam reported, citing Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority data.
* Data from the Central Bank of the UAE showed that dirham-denominated deposits with the country's banking sector during the first four months of 2017 increased to 965.3 billion dirhams from 932.8 billion dirhams, Gulf News reported.
* Emirates NBD Bank PJSC, in collaboration with U.K.-based IHS Markit Ltd., launched the Emirates NBD Markit iBoxx USD Sukuk Index, an Islamic bond index that will provide a benchmark for investors in U.S. dollar-denominated sukuk.
* HSBC Holdings Plc named Abdul Fattah Sharaf as head of international at HSBC Bank Middle East Ltd., effective July 1, Gulf News reported. The appointment is in addition to his current responsibilities as group general manager and CEO for the UAE.
* Moody's maintained its negative outlook on the Bahraini banking system, reflecting the challenges posed by Bahrain's weakening economic growth, banks' exposure to government debt and authorities' lower capacity to support lenders.
* Al Baraka Banking Group BSC completed its $400 million debut Islamic bond issuance, which was 5x oversubscribed.
* Gholamhossein Shafei, the head of Iran's Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture, said the country is working on connecting its banking system with major banks in Malaysia, Financial Tribune reported. Iranian banks are already connected with small Malaysian lenders following the lifting of sanctions against the Middle Eastern nation.
* The Bank al-Maghrib warned that weak growth and longer payment delays are weighing on the profitability of Moroccan banks and are posing a general threat to their health, according to L'Economiste.
EAST AND WEST AFRICA
* Central Bank of Kenya Governor Patrick Njoroge warned that the decline in lending to small and medium-sized enterprises since the government introduced a law capping banks' interest rates threatens jobs and economic growth, Business Daily Africa wrote.
* Separately, Njoroge said the central bank is now in talks with lenders regarding the new business models they submitted to the regulator in April, which will help banks remain sustainably profitable, The Star reported. Njoroge noted that the lenders are still working under their old models and have yet to apply the new ones.
* Data from the Central Bank of Nigeria showed that the country's foreign exchange reserves fell to $30.49 billion as of May 25, the lowest level since April 18 and down 0.87% from a month ago, according to Reuters.
CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN AFRICA
* Barclays Plc confirmed that it will off-load a further approximately 22% stake in Barclays Africa Group Ltd., reducing its stake to roughly 28% from 50.1%. The share sale will be carried out through an accelerated bookbuild placing of about 187 million Barclays Africa shares to institutional investors, open with immediate effect. South African pension fund manager Public Investment Corp. agreed to acquire 59 million shares, representing a 7% stake in Barclays Africa, although its participation is subject to regulatory approval.
* Barclays also signed the terms of a separation agreement reached in February with Barclays Africa, following regulatory approval of the share sale by South Africa's finance minister. The agreement includes the payment of £765 million to Barclays Africa, of which £27.5 million has already been paid and of which the remainder is due at the conclusion of a sale that takes Barclays' stake below 50%.
* Malawi-based First Merchant Bank Ltd. signed a deal with Barclays to acquire the British lender's majority stake in Zimbabwean unit Barclays Bank of Zimbabwe Ltd. for $60 million after months of negotiations, insiders told Zimbabwe Independent.
* South Africa is eyeing acquiring Mercantile Bank Holdings Ltd. from Portugal-based Caixa Geral de Depósitos SA, Jornal de Negócios wrote. The Portuguese lender unveiled in March a strategic plan that entails off-loading its operations in Spain and South Africa.
* Documents and emails showed that the Guptas, an Indian-South African business family, attempted to acquire Grindrod Bank Ltd., through their Oakbay Investments company, Business Day wrote.
* Mozambique's Kuhanha, a government pension funds manager, was selected among three bidders to lead the recapitalization process of Moza Banco SA and control 80% of the institution, O País reported. The bank, put under government administration in September 2016, will receive an injection of 8.17 billion Mozambican meticais.
IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD
Asia-Pacific: Deutsche Bank, China Development Bank ink MOU; RHB Bank, AMMB in merger talks
Europe: Ireland launches AIB listing; Generali sells Intesa stake; ESMA wants new powers
Latin America: Grupo Aval's Q1 profit up 25.8%; Banco Davivienda's falls 23.2%
North America: Goldman Sachs faces protest after $2.8B bond deal; Cohen planning comeback
North America Insurance: US weather drives '17 insured losses; insurers may move billions into debt ETFs
Leo Magno, Sarah Raslan, Sophie Davies and Mariana Aldano contributed to this report.
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