* The continued growth in crypto-asset trading platforms could pose risks to banks and global financial stability, despite relatively low levels of exposure among lenders, the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision warned.
* Representatives of the Association of Central African Banks met yesterday to discuss convergence issues necessary for the eventual formation of a common currency and a continent-wide central bank, Financial Afrik said. Central Bank of Egypt Governor Tarek Amer said creating a pan-African financial institution would better help mobilize investment within the continent.
* The French government has committed to invest €2.5 billion in Africa through funding roughly 10,000 small businesses across the continent by 2022, Bloomberg News reported, citing the French Development Agency.
GULF COOPERATION COUNCIL
* A no-deal Brexit will have no direct impact on Saudi Arabia and the wider GCC region, Argaam reported, citing Jameel Ahmad, global head of currency strategy and market research at FXTM.
* UAE Banks Federation Chairman Abdulaziz al-Ghurair attributed the country's inclusion in the EU's blacklist of tax havens to poor communication between the bloc and the UAE government, Reuters reported. Meanwhile, state news agency WAM noted the inclusion was made despite the UAE's close cooperation with the EU and the country's ongoing efforts to meet the bloc's requirements.
* Mashreqbank PSC CEO Abdulaziz al-Ghurair said the Dubai-based lender will close half of its UAE branches in 2019 as part of digitization efforts, under which the bank will spend at least 500 million dirhams over the next five years, The National reported.
* Emirates NBD Bank PJSC has begun marketing U.S. dollar-denominated benchmark-size perpetual bond, Reuters reported.
* Al Baraka Banking Group BSC named Nader Mahmood head of group compliance, replacing Qutub Yousafali, who will remain with the group as compliance adviser.
* Saudi Investment Bank has struck a digital transformation partnership with global technology firm SAP, TradeArabia reported.
* Al Rajhi Banking & Investment Corp.'s shareholders are set to vote on April 3 on a proposal to increase the lender's capital to 25 billion Saudi riyals from 16.25 billion riyals, Argaam wrote.
* Al Ahlia Insurance Co. for Cooperative Insurance said its board has recommended reducing the insurer's capital to 123 million Saudi riyals from 160 million riyals, Argaam reported. The board also recommended increasing the company's capital by 127 million riyals via a rights issue.
* Al Omaniya Financial Services' proposal to distribute a total dividend of 16.28% of its paid up capital for 2018 has received approval from Oman's central bank.
* Solidarity Saudi Takaful Co. said it has received regulatory approval to sell insurance policies online.
REST OF MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA
* First International Bank of Israel Ltd. reported full year 2018 consolidated net profit attributed to shareholders of the bank of 733 million shekels, up from 678 million shekels a year ago.
* Tunisia was removed from the EU's blacklist of possible tax havens, while Morocco remained on the list, Il Boursa reported. Bahrain and Qatar were also taken off the list.
EAST AND WEST AFRICA
* The Economic Community of West African State, or ECOWAS, said it is ready to launch a single currency for the bloc by 2020, Pulse reported. The union said it has adopted a revised roadmap to speed up the use of a common currency.
* Barclays Bank of Ghana Ltd. and the Ghana Commodity Exchange inked a memorandum of understanding to build a framework for settlement of trades, Joy Business reported.
CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN AFRICA
* South African Reserve Bank Deputy Governor Kuben Naidoo said the country will face difficulty in weathering a significant global economic crisis due to its rising debt trajectory, Reuters reported.
* Absa Group Ltd., Nedbank Ltd. and Standard Bank Group Ltd. have laid off 2,236 employees across their South African retail, corporate and investment banking and wealth units in 2018, Moneyweb reported.
* FirstRand Ltd unit Rand Merchant Bank is seeking to appoint new leadership for its corporate finance division following the departures of co-heads Craig Forbes and Puso Manthata later in 2019, Bloomberg News reported.
* South Africa's Public Investment Corp is set to meet the country's Companies and Intellectual Property Commission at a South African court in a bid to set aside a compliance notice ordering the PIC to recover the 4.3 billion rand it invested in Ayo Technology Solutions, Mail & Guardian reported.
* Meanwhile, Gaanwe Adams, portfolio manager of listed investments at the PIC, said the fund sold shares in several companies to fund its controversial investment in Ayo Technology Solutions, Mail & Guardian reported.
* Mozambican Prime Minister Carlos Agostinho do Rosário said Mozambique wants to cancel government guarantees on $2 billion of loans that helped trigger a debt crisis in the country, Reuters reported.
IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD
Asia-Pacific: CBA suspends demerger plans; China hikes tolerance for micro companies' NPLs
Europe: Standard Life Aberdeen shakeup; 2nd Brexit deal defeat; Värde eyes Carige
Latin America: 4 more LatAm nations in EU tax haven blacklist; Santander Río Q4'18 profit rises
North America: OCC disappointed with Sloan's testimony; Goldman Sachs reviews businesses
Global Insurance: US FAA stands by 737 MAX; EU blacklists Bermuda; PartnerRe shuffle
Sheryl Obejera, Henni Abdelghani, Pádraig Belton and Mariana Aldano contributed to this report.
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