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MENA news through March 20


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MENA news through March 20


* Dubai-based payments processor Network International LLC is pressing ahead with its plan to list on the London Stock Exchange, in a move that could drive its valuation to about $3 billion. The company, which is 51%-owned by Emirates NBD Bank PJSC, also appointed Rohinton Kalifa as its new chairman, replacing Abdulla Qassem. Kalifa is a former CEO of U.K.-based payment processing company Worldpay Ltd.

* Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund Mubadala Development Co. PJSC plans to sell Falcon Private Bank AG again, after investigations into the Swiss bank over alleged financial misconduct hampered a sale in 2018, Bloomberg News reported. Mubadala is reportedly seeking bids for at least CHF5 billion of assets managed by the Swiss private bank.

* France-based Crédit Agricole Corporate & Investment Bank is selling a 4.9% stake in Banque Saudi Fransi to a consortium led by U.S.-based Ripplewood Advisors LLC. The stake is being sold at a price of 31.5 Saudi Arabian riyals per share, for a total consideration of about 1.86 billion riyals. The transaction is expected to complete in the coming weeks.

* Global index providers FTSE Russell and S&P Dow Jones Indices on March 18 started including the Saudi Stock Exchange, also called Tadawul, in their respective emerging markets indexes.

* Saudi Arabia's tax authority outlined new rules for calculating Islamic tax on banks, Bloomberg News wrote. The limits for taxable asset base was set to between 4x and 8x net profit, which is equivalent to a corridor of between 10% and 20% of a bank's net income, according to a Bloomberg Intelligence analyst.

* Qatar plans to launch Energy Bank, an Islamic bank focused on financing energy projects, in the fourth quarter of 2019. The bank has paid-up capital of $2.5 billion and seeks to raise this to $10 billion.

* The Qatar Financial Centre Regulatory Authority has barred First Abu Dhabi Bank PJSC from conducting any regulated activities — including deposit taking, providing credit facilities and arranging deals in investments — for new customers at its QFC branch. The regulator cited the lender's failure to comply with a court order relating to an ongoing regulatory investigation into potential manipulation of the Qatari riyal.

* The Kuwait Banking Association has requested the economy ministry to extend the deadline of increasing the percentage of Kuwaiti nationals working in local banks to 70% to January 2020 instead of July 2019 due to lack of local talents who can occupy such positions, and the high turnover of Kuwaitis working for banking sectors, Al Rai reported. Turnover at Kuwaiti banks stands at around 35%, with 90% being Kuwaiti nationals.

* The Central Bank of Bahrain held its key policy interest rate on the one-week deposit facility at 2.75%, as well as the overnight rate at 2.50% and lending rate at 4.50%. However, the central bank cut the one-month rate to 3.10% from 3.25%.

* Standard Chartered Bank Bahrain appointed Abdulla Abdelrazak Boukhoda CEO, Akhbar Alkhaleej reported.

* Abdulla Subhi Ahmed Atatreh resigned as deputy chairman of Takaful Emarat - Insurance PSC's board, effective March 14.


* Bank Hapoalim BM's attributable fourth-quarter 2018 net profit declined year over year to 97 million Israeli shekels from 612 million shekels, weighed down by an increase in provision related to a U.S. probe into its alleged involvement in tax evasion by clients.

* A Tel Aviv district court ruled that Union Bank of Israel Ltd. is allowed to refuse to deposit funds from cryptocurrency conversions due to the risk of possible money laundering, CTech reported. The ruling comes after crypto-mining company Israminers took legal action against the bank for violation of its terms of service after refusing to take its deposits.

* The U.K. Court of Appeals rejected Bank Mellat PJSC's secrecy plea, ruling fear of prosecution in Iran is not a sufficient reason to withhold the disclosure of documents required by courts in the U.K., The Law Society Gazette wrote. The Iranian lender is reportedly seeking damages for losses of $1.7 billion that it incurred after the U.K. Treasury imposed restrictions in 2009 over the bank's alleged involvement in Iran's weapons program. The case goes to trial in June.

* S&P Global Ratings affirmed Jordan's B+/B long- and short-term foreign- and local-currency sovereign credit ratings. The outlook remains stable.


* Attijariwafa Bank SA reported full-year 2018 net income group share of 5.71 billion Moroccan dirhams, up from the year-ago 5.39 billion dirhams.

* Banque Centrale Populaire's full-year 2018 net profit attributable to shareholders increased by 3.5% to 2.9 billion Moroccan dirhams, Reuters reported.

* Morocco's central bank maintained its key rate at 2.25%. Separately, the central bank signed a memorandum of understanding with the Dubai Financial Services Authority to collaborate in licensing and supervision of banks based in the two jurisdictions, Financial Afrik wrote.

* The Algerian central bank increased the required reserves rate of banks to 12% from 8%, according to Algeria Press Service.

* Newly appointed Algerian Prime Minister Noureddine Bedoui has started talks for the creation of a new government, in an apparent effort to placate protesters calling for the resignation of long-ruling President Abdel Aziz Bouteflika and his inner circle, Reuters reported.

* Tunisia suspended the listing of Banque Attijari de Tunisie SA from the Tunis stock exchange after the bank lost 14% of its value since February, Jeune Afrique reported. The bank has been under investigation since the beginning of 2019 for alleged misappropriation of 200 million dinars.

Henni Abdelghani and Pádraig Belton contributed to this report.

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.