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MENA news through July 4

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MENA news through July 4

GULF COOPERATION COUNCIL

* Abdul Aziz al-Ghurair, chairman of the United Arab Emirates' banks federation, said local banks have imposed a 5% value-added tax 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%.

* 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 three days from submitting the request, Al Jazira reported. The new regulation will take effect in early September.

* 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. Naqvi and fellow executive Muhammad Rafique Lakhani have also been taken to court for issuing a bouncing check, with the ruling scheduled to be released July 5.

* Meanwhile, Abraaj Group Chairman Sean Cleary has resigned amid a restructuring of the embattled Dubai-based firm, The National reported.

* At least six companies, including Colony Capital Inc., Cerberus Capital Management LP and TPG, are competing to manage Abraaj's $1 billion healthcare fund, with Abraaj provisional liquidator Deloitte reportedly weighing the inquiries alongside investors in the funds, insiders told Reuters.

* A court in the Cayman Islands, where Abraaj has filed for provisional liquidation, will decide July 11 whether to approve the sale of the firm's funds management businesses in Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa and Turkey to Colony Capital, insiders told Reuters.

* UAE-based investment firm Amanat Holdings PJSC plans to expand following Abraaj's collapse and is seeking healthcare and education acquisitions in the Gulf region, Managing Director Shamsheer Vayalil said in an interview with Bloomberg News.

* 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.

* National Bank of Kuwait SAKP and Arab Banking Corp. BSC are seeking French banking licenses, with ABC saying it will make Paris its European headquarters, absorbing branches in Frankfurt and Milan, French newspaper Les Echos reported.

* The UAE Insurance Authority has lifted the ban on Al Bustan Insurance Brokers after the company addressed all the issues that the regulator raised, Al Khaleej reported.

* Alinma Tokio Marine Co. secured the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority's approval to renew its insurance activities license for three years, Argaam reported.

* Bank Muscat SAOG board of directors approved the appointment Sheikh Waleed al-Hashar as CEO, effective Jan. 1, 2019. He will succeed Abdul Razak Ali Issa, who is retiring as CEO on Dec. 31, along with COO Ahmed al-Abri. The board also approved a revised organizational structure for the bank.

* Ahli United Bank KSCP said Ahmed Zulficar has retired from his position as senior deputy CEO of banking support group, and was replaced by Jehad al-Humaidhi.

* Oman Investment & Finance Co. SAOG appointed Saud Ahmed al-Siyabi as COO, effective July 1.

REST OF MIDDLE EAST

* Delek Group Ltd.'s planned sale of its 47% stake in Israeli insurance group Phoenix Holdings Ltd. to Bermuda-based Sirius International Insurance Group Ltd. has been terminated as the required regulatory approvals for the transaction had not been received in time for the completion date set in the agreement. Delek noted that it will continue trying to sell the Phoenix stake, which it has been seeking to off-load for years.

* Bank Hapoalim BM has submitted to the Israel Securities Authority the first draft of a prospectus for the potential IPO of Isracard Ltd., as well as alternative options to sell shares in the unit to the public — including selling it to investors or distributing Isracard shares as a dividend to the bank's shareholders.

* Jordan Kuwait Bank PSC agreed to acquire a 10% stake in Quds Bank and merge its branches in Palestine with the latter. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

* The Bank of Israel appointed retired District Court Judge Moshe Gal chairman of the committee on the appointment of directors at banking corporations. Gal replaces retired Supreme Court Justice Ayala Procaccia.

NORTH AFRICA

* The Central Bank of Egypt maintained its overnight deposit rate at 16.75%, overnight lending rate at 17.75%, rate of main operation at 17.25% and discount rate at 17.25%.

* Morocco's House of Representatives has approved a draft law seeking to revise the status of Bank Al-Maghrib by broadening 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.

* The European Investment Bank is to inject €10 million in the first investment fund of the Egypt-based private equity firm Sawaris Ventures, which operates in North Africa and the Middle East, Agence Ecofin wrote.

* The IMF approved the fourth tranche of a $12 billion loan facility to Egypt, amounting to $2.02 billion, Reuters reported.

* The World Bank approved a $500 million loan for Tunisia to support the country's economic reforms, Reuters reported, citing TAP.

* U.K. insurance broker Willis Towers Watson PLC 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.

* Citigroup Inc. named Mohamed Abdel Kader country officer for Egypt, Reuters reported. Kader will be in charge of the lender's operations in the country while continuing to serve as head of markets for Egypt.

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