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MENA news through July 31


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MENA news through July 31

* S&P Global Ratings raised its outlook for global bond issuance growth to roughly 4% year over year in 2019, higher than its prior forecast of a 1.2% expansion, amid a shift in monetary policy guidance by the world's major central banks.


* The central banks of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain cut their key interest rates by 25 basis points, following a similar decision by the U.S. Federal Reserve. The Central Bank of the United Arab Emirates also said it will lower interest rates on the issuance of certificates of deposits beginning Aug. 1, Reuters reported, while Kuwait's central bank maintained its discount rate at 3.0%.

* Enhanced capital requirements for insurers in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia could accelerate consolidation among Islamic insurers or force some to leave the market, according to S&P Global Ratings.

* Saudi Arabia-based National Commercial Bank reported a year-over-year rise in second-quarter net profit to 2.69 billion riyals from 2.17 billion riyals, which it attributed to an 8.5% rise in total operating income and lower operating expenses. The lender's board recommended the distribution of a dividend of 1.10 riyals, after deduction of zakat, for the half.

* Riyad Bank's second-quarter net profit came in at 1.50 billion Saudi Arabian riyals, up from 842.0 million riyals in the same period in 2018.

* The board of directors of Samba Financial Group recommended the distribution of 7.2% cash dividend, at 72 halalas per share, to shareholders for the first half, to be paid Aug. 20.

* Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank PJSC's majority shareholder is now Abu Dhabi Investment Council Co. PJSC, following the completion of the council's reorganization that saw the company assume all of its assets and liabilities.

* Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund is in advanced talks to take out a $10 billion loan and is looking to more than halve the interest rates it offered banks in 2018 in its first multibillion-dollar facility, sources told Reuters.

* Al Rajhi Banking & Investment Corp. reported second-quarter net profit of 2.58 billion Saudi Arabian riyals, up from 2.47 billion riyals a year ago. Meanwhile, Capital Intelligence Ratings affirmed the firm's long- and short-term foreign-currency ratings at A+/A1.

* Emirates NBD Bank PJSC completed the acquisition of PAO Sberbank of Russia's 99.85% stake in Turkish unit DenizBank AŞ. Emirates NBD CEO Shayne Nelson said the UAE-based lender would support DenizBank should it need a capital increase, Reuters reported.

* The Dubai Financial Services Authority fined The Abraaj Group units Abraaj Investment Management Ltd. and Abraaj Capital Ltd. a record $299.3 million and $15.3 million, respectively, for serious wrongdoings, including carrying out unauthorized activities in the Dubai International Financial Centre and misusing investors' funds. The regulator said, however, that there is a "significant risk" that the fine will not be collected because of the group's liquidation, according to The Wall Street Journal.

* Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank PJSC reported second-quarter pro forma net profit of 1.45 billion UAE dirhams, down from 1.62 billion dirhams a year ago. ADCB said the results are based on the pro forma financial statements for the combined entity, following the completion of its merger with Union National Bank - PJSC and Al Hilal Bank PJSC.

* Bahrain-based Ahli United Bank BSC reported second-quarter net profit attributable to owners of the bank of $184.7 million, up from $182.7 million a year earlier.

* Bahrain's Gulf International Bank BSC reported second-quarter net income attributable to shareholders of $26.9 million, compared to a loss of $170.0 million a year ago.

* Kuwait Finance House KSCP Group CEO Mazin Saad al-Nahedh said the due diligence study related to the potential merger with Ahli United Bank is near completion, Argaam reported, citing an interview with CNBC Arabia.


* The U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned Iran's foreign minister, Javad Zarif, under an executive order signed by President Donald Trump in June directed at the country's supreme leader following attacks on a U.S. Navy drone and tankers near the Strait of Hormuz.

* Iranian insurers are looking to allow startups to handle 10% of the country's insurance market in the current fiscal year, the Financial Tribune reported, citing Central Insurance of Iran head Gholamreza Soleimani.

* Moody's affirmed Iraq's long-term issuer and senior unsecured ratings at Caa1, with a stable outlook. Meanwhile, Fitch Ratings affirmed Iraq's long- and short-term issuer default ratings at B-/B, with a stable outlook on the long-term rating.

* Demand at the pricing stage of The Tel-Aviv Stock Exchange Ltd.'s IPO reached 1.15 billion Israeli shekels, representing five times the number of shares the bourse offered for sale, insiders told Globes.

* Jordan-based Arab Bank Group's first-half net profit increased on a yearly basis to $453 million from $436 million.

* Lebanon-based BLOM BANK SAL reported first-half unaudited net profit of $238.7 million, down 2.09% from the same period in 2018.


* Egypt's investment minister Sahar Nasr met with 25 Japanese companies to discuss increasing Japanese investment in the country, Al-Masry Al-Youm reported. Currently, 106 Japanese companies invest $880 million in Egypt.

* Egyptian payments company Fawry Banking & Payment Technology Services Ltd. set the price of its IPO at 6.46 Egyptian pounds per share. The company plans to sell up to 254,629,483 shares, representing up to 36% of its share capital, on the Egyptian Stock Exchange in an offering comprising an institutional offering and a retail offering.

Henni Abdelghani, Pádraig Belton and Sophie Davies contributed to this report.

This S&P Global Market Intelligence news article may contain information about credit ratings issued by S&P Global Ratings. Descriptions in this news article were not prepared by S&P Global Ratings.