GULF COOPERATION COUNCIL
* The Saudi government has been spending billions of dollars to buy shares of companies in the Saudi Stock Exchange to counter sell-offs amid recent political crises, including the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, according to The Wall Street Journal. The purchases were reportedly made through asset managers at Saudi financial institutions who manage funds that are not required to reveal their clients.
* Banque Saudi Fransi appointed Mazin al-Romeih and Talal al-Maiman board chairman and vice chairman, respectively.
* Saudi Enaya Cooperative Insurance Co.'s general assembly approved the board of directors' recommendation to increase the company's capital to 300 million Saudi Arabian riyals through a 100 million riyal rights issue.
* Buruj Cooperative Insurance Co. said its shareholders are set to vote on a proposal to raise the insurer's capital to 300 million Saudi Arabian riyals from 250 million riyals on Jan. 14, 2019, Argaam reported.
* Moody's confirmed Commercial Bank of Dubai PSC's Baa1/Prime-2 long- and short-term bank deposit ratings and changed the outlook on the long-term rating to negative from rating under review. Moody's also confirmed the lender's "ba1" baseline and adjusted baseline credit assessments, A3(cr)/P-2(cr) long- and short-term counterparty risk assessments and A3/P-2 long- and short-term counterparty risk ratings.
* S&P Global Ratings revised the outlook on United Arab Emirates-based Al Wathba National Insurance Co. PJSC to stable from negative and affirmed the company's BBB local-currency issuer credit and insurer financial strength ratings.
* Abraaj Group Ltd.'s liquidators are nearly finished with the transfer of the Dubai-based private equity firm's Global Credit Fund to National Bank of Kuwait SAKP unit NBK Capital Partners, which could take over management of the fund as early as January 2019, insiders told Bloomberg News. No Abraaj staff will reportedly be moved as part of the deal.
* UAE-based payments firm UAE Exchange Centre LLC and U.S. startup Ripple are looking to launch cross-border remittances to Asia via blockchain by the first quarter of 2019, Reuters reported, citing UAE Exchange Group CEO Promoth Manghat.
* The Central Bank of Bahrain said it issued for consultation draft rules for the licensing and supervision of operators of crypto-assets, such as cryptocurrencies, Reuters reported.
* Kuwait's Capital Markets Authority issued disciplinary actions against Amwal International Investment Co. KSCP as its CEO occupied three positions without approval from the regulator. The regulator also issued disciplinary actions against Al Riyada Finance and Investment Co. for not informing the regulator about its general assembly date and location 10 days before the meeting, in addition to other violations.
* Noor Investment received a letter of intent from an international institution to buy 5.96% of its stake in Pakistan's Meezan Bank Ltd., which stands at 39.53%.
* Simmons & Simmons said it is assisting the Kuwait Investment Authority to establish a wholly foreign-owned enterprise dedicated to asset management in Shanghai, Al-Qabas reported.
REST OF MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA
* Moody's revised the outlook on Lebanon's issuer ratings to negative from stable, saying domestic and geopolitical risks threaten the country's financial stability and government liquidity position. The rating agency simultaneously affirmed Lebanon's issuer ratings at B3.
* Interbank rates for the Lebanese pound reached 75% yesterday, up from an average of around 7%, The Daily Star reported.
* Goldman Sachs Group Inc., JPMorgan Chase & Co., Citigroup Inc. and Credit Suisse Group AG have invested $17.5 million in Israel-based startup AccessFintech, which sells technology aimed at helping financial firms handle business errors, Reuters reported.
* Adnane Berrah has been named director general of Macir Vie, the personal insurance subsidiary of Algeria's Compagnie Internationale d'Assurance et de Réassurance, replacing Mohamed Hakim Soufi, Financial Afrik reported.
* Cairo-based investment bank Pharos Holding SAE will launch microfinance portfolio services worth roughly $22 million to $28 million in the first quarter of 2019, Reuters reported, citing Pharos Co-CEO Aladdin el-Afifi.
EAST AND WEST AFRICA
* Ghana's central bank said it will likely reduce interest rates in 2019, likely in March if the trend of falling inflation holds, Pulse reported.
* Fidelity Bank Ghana Ltd. named Deputy Managing Director Julian Kingsley Opuni managing director, replacing Jim Baiden, Joy Business reported.
* Agricultural Development Bank Ltd. is looking to delist itself from the Ghana Stock Exchange in a move that is said to be driven by a change of ownership, insiders told Joy Business. Ghana Stock Exchange Managing Director Kofi Yamoah, however, said he was privy to a conversation about the bank remaining a listed company, Joy Business added.
* Ghanaian Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta ordered the Ghana Revenue Authority to recover taxes and liabilities owed by businesses and individuals before 2018-end, Joy Business reported.
* Kenya Diaspora Alliance Global Chairman Shem Ochuodho said the group, which comprises Kenyans living abroad, is looking to open a microfinance bank aimed at pooling their investments in the country, The Star reported.
* Ugandan Parliament members investigating whether the Bank of Uganda followed the law in closing seven commercial banks have rejected a call by President Yoweri Museveni to conduct the inquiry behind closed doors, Daily Monitor reported.
* Tanzania's central bank plans to further review bureau de change regulations to erase remaining loopholes that some bureaus are still using for illegal foreign-currency trading and money laundering, Daily News reported.
* Umar Garba Dambatta, executive vice chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission, said the $8.1 billion dispute between South African telecommunications firm MTN Group Ltd. and Nigeria's central bank is being resolved and will be over "very soon," Reuters reported.
CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN AFRICA
* The Bank of Mozambique yesterday cut its benchmark interest rate to 14.25% from 15%, citing slowing inflation and the strengthening of the country's currency, Journal du Cameroun reported.
* The Bank of Mozambique has authorized South African credit bureau Compuscan Information Technologies (Pty) Ltd. to operate in the country.
* South Africa's central bank will likely wait until May 2019 before it raises interest rates again, according to a Reuters poll.
* Angola's $3.7 billion financing accord with the IMF is credit positive because it will help foster economic reforms, improve the state of public finances and balance of payments, according to Moody's, state news agency Angop and Novo Jornal reported.
* The Cairo-based African Export and Import Bank is willing to open a $1 billion credit line to finance Angolan small and medium-sized companies working in Angola's industrial and energy sectors, said an adviser to the entity, Paulo Gomes, Jornal de Angola reported. He said the funds would be channeled through commercial banks.
IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD
Asia-Pacific: India mulls injecting more capital to public banks; Philippines holds rates
Europe: UK's May wins vote; Unicaja, Liberbank confirm deal talks; GAM sees CHF925M loss
Latin America: Brazil holds key rate; Matba-Rofex merger vote delayed
North America: Group plans de novo in New Hampshire; Morgan Stanley raises $1.4B for fund
Global Insurance: Wildfire claims bill passes $9B; Allstate cat loss; Japan Post eyes Aflac stake
Sheryl Obejera, Henni Abdelghani, Sophie Davies and Helen Popper contributed to this report.
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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.