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MENA news through June 20

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MENA news through June 20

MIDDLE EAST

* Qatari lenders Barwa Bank QSC and International Bank of Qatar QSC are in advanced merger discussions, days after talks over a potential three-way tie-up with Masraf Al Rayan QPSC fell through, sources told Reuters.

* The central banks of the United Arab Emirates and Qatar raised their respective key interest rates following the U.S. Federal Reserve's decision to hike its own benchmark rate.

* The UAE central bank unveiled amendments to regulations governing banks loans and services offered to individual customers, setting maximum limits on fees or commissions charged on retail products and services, including home loans and late fees on credit cards, Gulf Business reported. The move comes as the country aims to attract more expatriates and boost its non-oil sector, The National noted.

* Dubai-based Abraaj Group Ltd.'s Abraaj Holdings filed for provisional liquidation in the Cayman Islands, where it is registered, in a move that could avert a petition for liquidation filed by one of its creditors. A Cayman Islands court appointed executives from PricewaterhouseCoopers and PwC Corporate Finance and Recovery (Cayman) Ltd. as joint provisional liquidators of Abraaj Holdings and executives from Deloitte for the same role at unit Abraaj Investment Management Ltd.

* Colony Capital Inc., formerly known as Colony NorthStar Inc., agreed to buy Abraaj's funds management business in Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa and Turkey, as well as its limited partnership interest in other underlying funds.

* Meanwhile, ADCM Ltd. conditionally offered Abraaj $50 million to purchase investment management arm Abraaj Investment Management and its managing interest in all of its limited partnerships, Reuters reported.

* A wholly owned subsidiary of the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority agreed to acquire up to 21.4% of Pension Insurance Corp. Group's shares from funds advised by J.C. Flowers & Co. LLC, subject to regulatory approvals. Pension Insurance Corp. Group is the ultimate parent of U.K.-based pension buyout company Pension Insurance Corp. PLC.

* Emirates NBD Bank PJSC said UAE-based Amwal Brokerage has signed up as trading member to avail the bank's settlement and clearing services, Argaam reported.

* Emirates NBD Bank unit Emirates Islamic Bank PJSC appointed Salah Amin its new CEO.

* The UAE insurance sector is set to score a compound growth of 12.1% during the period from 2016 to 2021, Al Bayan reported.

* The UAE Insurance Authority has suspended Holborn Assets Insurance Brokers for three months due to irregularities, Al Khaleej reported.

* Saudi Arabia will join MSCI Inc.'s benchmark emerging markets index starting June 2019. The U.S.-based stock market index provider said Saudi Arabia will be given a 2.6% weighting in its index with 32 securities, following a two-step inclusion process that will occur in May and in August 2019.

* Samba Financial Group appointed Ali bin Hussein Ali Redha vice chairman.

* Arab Banking Corp. BSC secured approval from the Central Bank of Bahrain to appoint Securities and Investment Co. BSC as a market maker to enhance the liquidity of the lender's listed shares on the Bahrain Bourse.

* Kuwait Finance House KSCP said it obtained the Central Bank of Kuwait's final approval for its first issuance of $1 billion of Islamic bonds under its $3 billion sukuk program.

* Kuwait-based Warba Bank KSCP appointed Paul Quigley chief risk officer. The appointment has already been approved by the country's central bank.

* Jordan appointed Izzeddin Kanakrieh as its new finance minister under a new cabinet led by Prime Minister Omar al-Razzaz, Reuters reported.

* Bank Leumi le-Israel BM finalized negotiations to sell its 99.91% stake in unit Bank Leumi Romania SA to U.K.-based investment firm Argo Capital Management, according to Romania's Business Review.

* Bank Leumi le-Israel will delay the sale of its entire 9.3% stake in Tel Aviv Stock Exchange Ltd. at the request of the Israeli bourse, Reuters reported.

* Israel-based Clal Insurance Enterprises Holdings Ltd. named Yoram Naveh CEO, effective July 1, upon approval from the Capital Markets, Insurance, and Savings Authority, Globes reported.

* The Association of Banks in Israel has called on the country's central bank to provide clear guidelines regarding the management of cryptocurrency activity and accounts, CTech reported.

* Bank Saderat Iran CEO Hojjatollah Seyyedi said the lender has recently been connected to the eurozone's TARGET2 payment settlement system, according to the Financial Tribune.

NORTH AFRICA

* Egyptian Deputy Finance Minister Mohamed Maait was promoted to finance minister, replacing Amr el-Garhy, as part of a new cabinet sworn in by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Reuters reported.

* Morocco's central bank kept its key rate unchanged at 2.25%.

* Morocco's Banque Centrale Populaire will seek to acquire African banks held by France's Groupe BPCE, which in December 2017 announced it would withdraw from the African continent, Jeune Afrique said.

* Tunisian holding company Al Karama Holding, which is selling its 69.15% stake in Banque Zitouna SA and its 70% stake in Zitouna Takaful, unveiled a list of seven potential buyers that have submitted expressions of interest in acquiring the stakes, Il Boursa reported. The list included Tunisia's Arab Tunisian Bank and Banque Centrale Populaire.

* Central Bank of Sudan Governor Hazem Abdelqader died from a heart attack while on a visit to Turkey, Reuters wrote.

Henni Abdelghani and Pádraig Belton contributed to this report.