* African Securities Exchanges Association President Karim Hajji said the group has launched an initiative to connect the Bourse de Casablanca SA, JSE Ltd., Nigerian Stock Exchange, Stock Exchange of Mauritius Ltd., Nairobi Securities Exchange PLC, Egyptian Exchange and Côte d'Ivoire-based West African regional stock exchange Bourse Régionale des Valeurs Mobilières, or BRVM, by the first quarter of 2021 in a bid to boost trading in securities, Bloomberg News reported. Hajji, also the CEO of the Casablanca bourse, said the African Development Bank contributed funding of up to $1 million for the project.
GULF COOPERATION COUNCIL
* Saudi British Bank's board recommended the distribution of 1.23 billion riyals in cash dividends for the second half of 2019 to shareholders, Mubasher wrote. Separately, the lender appointed Lubna Sulaiman Olayan and Saad Abdulmohsen al-Fadly chairwoman and vice chairman of its board, respectively.
* Riyad Bank's board of directors recommended a 5.5% cash dividend for the second half of 2019 amounting to 1.65 billion Saudi Arabian riyals, or 55 halalas per share.
* Banque Saudi Fransi's board recommended the distribution of 1.20 billion riyals in dividends to shareholders for the second half of 2019.
* Saudi Arabia's Capital Market Authority approved Walaa Cooperative Insurance Co.'s request to increase its capital to 646.4 million riyals from 528 million riyals by issuing 11,839,706 ordinary shares to merge MetLife AIG ANB Cooperative Insurance Co. into the company. MetLife AIG ANB Cooperative Insurance's entire assets and liabilities will also be transferred to Walaa Cooperative Insurance through a securities exchange offer.
* Saudi Arabia's Capital Market Authority approved a request by Alinma Investment Co. to offer units of Alinma Saudi Government Sukuk ETF Fund - Short Maturity on the Saudi Stock Exchange as an exchange traded fund.
* Mohamed al-Khawajah resigned as a member of United Arab Emirates-based Orient UNB Takaful PJSC's board of directors, effective Dec. 30, 2019.
* Kuwait Finance & Investment Co. - KSC (Public) divested from real estate investments and made 503,000 dinars in profit.
* Oman International Development & Investment Co. SAOG unit Oman Arab Bank SAOC has proposed to merge with Alizz Islamic Bank SAOG, offering to carry out the merger through a share swap at a ratio of 81% to 19% for shareholders of Oman Arab Bank and Alizz Islamic Bank, respectively, based on the audited year-end 2019 net book values of both banks. Alizz Islamic Bank said its board will review the offer and make a decision in due course.
* Shareholders of Gulf Investment Services Holding Co. SAOG unit Gulf Baader Capital Markets SAOC approved a proposal to reduce the company's paid-up capital to 2 million Omani rials from 7 million rials.
* National Bank of Bahrain BSC's offer to acquire up to 100% of Bahrain Islamic Bank BSC became unconditional after valid acceptances for the bid exceeded the conditional threshold of 40.94% of Bahrain Islamic Bank's issued share capital.
* Shareholders of GFH Financial Group BSC approved the recommendation of the company's board to take required steps to issue Islamic bonds, or sukuk, of up to $500 million in one or more issuances, subject to regulatory approvals. The board also received shareholder approval to use 3.8% of the Bahrain-based group's shares for a strategic share acquisition in financial institutions, subject to central bank approval.
REST OF MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA
* Israel Discount Bank Ltd. named Assaf Eldar a member of its management board as executive vice president and head of its newly created operations and assets division, effective Jan. 1. The lender also appointed Orit Caspi to the board as executive vice president and head of human resources, replacing Yafit Gheriani, who was named head of the bank's retail division.
* Israeli nonbanking credit firm M.L.R.N Projects and Trade Ltd. will expand its bond issue to 120 million shekels from an original plan of 80 million shekels after receiving excess demand, Globes reported.
* National Bank of Egypt SAE's investment unit Al Ahly Capital Holding Co. signed a contract to acquire Pharos Securities, Daily News Egypt wrote. National Bank of Egypt Chairperson Hisham Okasha said the deal is part of its plan to set up an integrated investment bank and is in line with its strategy to expand nonbank financial services.
EAST AND WEST AFRICA
* Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari reiterated that he will step down in 2023 and that he will not participate in any future elections, amid concerns that he is seeking to amend the constitution to pursue a third term, Bloomberg News wrote.
* Kenya-based mortgage lender HF Group PLC is carrying out an internal corporate restructuring process that will involve the transfer of the business, investments and liabilities of unit HF Development & Investment Ltd. to another subsidiary, HFC Ltd. The move is aimed at cutting the group's losses and boosting liquidity, according to Standard Digital.
* The Bank of Uganda could keep interest rates unchanged at the February meeting of its monetary policy committee after inflation rose the highest level in more than a year in December 2019, according to Bloomberg News.
* The Ugandan government is looking to borrow 6.9 trillion shillings of concessional and nonconcessional credit from external lenders in the 2020-2021 fiscal year to fund part of its budget, according to a finance ministry budget paper seen by Reuters.
* Former Guinea-Bissau Prime Minister and current opposition leader Umaro Sissoco Embaló defeated the ruling party's Domingos Simões Pereira, who is also a former prime minister, in the Dec. 29, 2019, election to be the country's president, media outlets including Bloomberg News and Reuters reported, citing the electoral commission.
CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN AFRICA
* Angola's central bank ordered the recapitalization of Banco de Poupança e Crédito SA and Banco Económico SA, after the conclusion of a report started in April, to evaluate the quality of the country’s assets. If taken into account the minimum capital requirements, the two banks account for 96% all recapitalization needs in the Angolan banking system, Jornal de Angola reported.
* The Angolan government froze the assets of Isabel dos Santos, the billionaire daughter of former President José Eduardo dos Santos, over allegations that she, her husband Sindika Dokolo and Banco de Fomento Angola SA Chairman Mário Leite da Silva caused the state losses of more than $1 billion, Reuters reported, citing a court document. Financial Afrik also covered.
IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD
Asia-Pacific: China cuts banks' reserve ratio; 2 Indian banks to exit Sri Lanka
Erin Tanchico, Henni Abdelghani, Pádraig Belton and Mariana Aldano contributed to this report.
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