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S&P upgrades Egypt; Fidelity Bank Ghana seeks M&A deals

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S&P upgrades Egypt; Fidelity Bank Ghana seeks M&A deals

* Wassim Younan, Goldman Sachs Group Inc.'s CEO for the Middle East and North Africa, said the U.S.-based lender has approached an unnamed entity owned by the Saudi Arabian government with a multibillion-dollar proposal, as part of its expansion plans in the country, Bloomberg News reported. CEO Lloyd Blankfein said the bank also plans to double its staff numbers in the country.

* Morocco's Banque Marocaine du Commerce Extérieur SA and Japan's Marubeni Corp. signed a memorandum of understanding pledging to help attract businesses and investors that want to set up in Morocco and Africa more widely, Financial Afrik reported.

* Abu Dhabi Global Market launched its first representative office in Beijing.

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

* S&P Global Ratings upgraded Egypt's long-term foreign- and local-currency sovereign credit ratings to B from B- with a stable outlook, citing the nation's strengthening economy and improving external position. The agency also affirmed the country's B short-term foreign- and local-currency sovereign credit ratings.

* Union National Bank - PJSC reported first-quarter net profit attributable to equity holders of 421.8 million United Arab Emirates dirhams, down from 449.3 million dirhams in the same period in 2017.

* Dubai-based Shuaa Capital PSC said it signed an initial agreement with Amwal International Investment Co. KSCP to initiate its voluntary acquisition offer for the Kuwait-based investment firm, and has obtained approval from the Central Bank of Kuwait to proceed with the deal.

* Separately, Shuaa Capital said it appointed Atif al-Othri CEO of its fully owned Shariah-compliant business financing arm Gulf Finance Saudi Arabia.

* Ajman Bank PJSC's board of directors outlined proposals to boost the bank's capital, first by increasing its paid-up capital within the authorized capital of 2.1 billion UAE dirhams and by increasing the authorized capital to 3.5 billion dirhams and the paid-up capital by 700 million dirhams to 2.8 billion dirhams, subject to regulatory approval.

* Bank Dhofar SAOG named Jose Joseph deputy general manager and chief risk officer.

* Kuwait & Middle East Financial Investment Co. KSCP said it received regulatory approval to buy and sell no more than 10% of its shares for six months.

* Capital Intelligence Ratings affirmed Lebanon-based Bank Audi SAL's BBB- financial strength rating, with a stable outlook.

* Partial preliminary results of Iraq's May 12 parliamentary election showed nationalist cleric Moqtada al-Sadr in the lead, with militia leader Hadi al-Amiri and incumbent Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi coming in second and third, respectively, Reuters reported, citing the country's electoral commission. Abadi was initially viewed as a frontrunner, with Amiri and predecessor Nuri al-Maliki seen as Abadi's main rivals. Official full results will be announced today.

* Iranian lenders have been allowed by the Central Bank of Iran to purchase hard currency held by foreign tourists, transit drivers, foreign diplomatic missions based in the country and representative offices of foreign banks, the Financial Tribune wrote.

EAST AND WEST AFRICA

* Fidelity Bank Ghana Ltd. is looking at opportunities to acquire a bank or some assets, Bloomberg wrote, citing Laureen Kouassi-Olsson, regional head for Central and West Africa at private equity firm Amethis Finance, which owns 18% of the Ghanaian lender with Edmond de Rothschild group. Kouassi-Olsson also said the lender will meet the new 400 million cedi minimum capital requirement set by the Bank of Ghana before the end of the year.

* Ecobank Ghana Ltd. secured authorization from shareholders to increase its stated capital to 416.6 million cedi from 226.0 million cedi in a bid to meet the Bank of Ghana's new minimum capital requirement, according to Ghana News Agency. The capital increase will be made by transferring 190 million cedi from the Ecobank Transnational Inc. unit's income surplus account.

* Barclays Bank of Ghana Ltd. Managing Director Patience Akyianu has resigned from her post but will remain with the Barclays Africa Group Ltd. unit until Sept. 30, according to Joy Business.

* Lekan Sanusi was named as managing director of Guaranty Trust Bank (Uganda) Ltd. He replaces Femi Omotoso, who will take on a new role at Nigeria-based parent Guaranty Trust Bank Plc.

* Coris Bank International Mali has launched its new specialized Islamic banking agency, known as Coris Bank International Baraka, in Mali, Le journal de l'économie Malienne wrote. The banking group has offered Islamic financing products in Togo, Ivory Coast, Benin, Senegal and Mali since 2014.

CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN AFRICA

* Angola, which is in the process of raising $3 billion in eurobonds, intends to privatize 74 state companies in the coming years, according to Reuters. Among those reportedly being considered for full or partial privatization are Banco de Comércio e Indústria SA and insurer Ensa.

* Angola's state-controlled Banco de Poupança e Crédito SA will close eight branches in Luanda by the end of May as part of broader restructuring plans at the bank, state news agency Angop and newspaper Novo Jornal reported.

* Banco Nacional de Angola Governor José de Lima Massano said the country plans to maintain the new floating exchange rate regime that has led to the kwanza's steep depreciation against the euro since its introduction at the start of the year, Macauhub reported.

* SBM Holdings Ltd. reported first-quarter unaudited group profit attributable to equity holders of the parent of 746.7 million Mauritian rupees, up from 581.4 million rupees in the same period in 2017.

* Fitch Ratings affirmed Cameroon's B long-term foreign-currency issuer default rating, with a stable outlook.

* The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has prohibited local financial firms from doing business with cryptocurrency exchanges or holding any accounts of individuals trading in such currencies, Techzim wrote. Financial firms were given 60 days to comply with the central bank's directives.

* Nedbank Group Ltd. has officially launched NZone, a digital-only branch that is said to be the first of such kind in Africa, according to CAJ News Africa.

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Deza Mones, Henni Abdelghani, Sophie Davies and Helen Popper contributed to this report.

The Daily Dose Middle East and Africa has an editorial deadline of 5 a.m. London time. Some external links may require a subscription. Links are current as of publication time, and we are not responsible if those links are unavailable later.

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