MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA
* Tadawul Chair Sarah al-Suhaimi said she is "very optimistic" that the Saudi stock exchange will be added to FTSE Russell's list of emerging markets, Bloomberg News reported. FTSE Russell is expected to announce its decision today.
* Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said Saudi Arabian Oil Co.'s IPO could take place at the end of 2018 or in early 2019, subject to financial market conditions, Reuters reported.
* Emirates NBD Bank PJSC shareholders approved the lender's proposals for a rights issue of up to 7.3 billion United Arab Emirates dirhams that is believed to be for the acquisition of Turkey-based DenizBank AS, Gulf News reported.
* Insurance firms in the UAE are set to go to court over the retroactive imposition of value-added tax on insurance contracts that were signed in 2017 but took effect in 2018, according to Al Khaleej.
* Al Ahlia Insurance Co. for Cooperative Insurance and Gulf Union Co-operative Insurance Co. agreed to extend the memorandum of understanding for a potential merger for a further 20 weeks.
* Metlife - AIG - ANB Cooperative Insurance Co. intends to call an extraordinary general assembly before May 9 to address its high accumulated losses. The Saudi insurer warned that failure to convene such assembly or tackle the issue would see the company dissolved.
* Commercial Bank PSQC appointed Bouchra Sebbata as AGM and president of high-net-worth clients at the Qatari lender, according to The Peninsula.
* Capital Intelligence Ratings affirmed Doha Bank QPSC's A financial strength rating.
* Qatar General Insurance & Reinsurance Co. QPSC said Trust Bank Algeria's memorandum of association has been amended to reflect the Qatari insurer's 20% stake in the Algerian bank.
* Attijariwafa Bank SA signed an agreement with World Bank investment arm International Finance Corp. to help boost cross-border trade and investment in Africa and support the continent's smaller businesses.
* The 15 largest Lebanese banks in terms of assets and deposits saw a 6% rise in net profits to $2.4 billion in 2017, The Daily Star wrote, citing Bankdata Financial Services.
EAST AND WEST AFRICA
* French digital lender Orange Bank SA has applied for a banking license to the West African Economic and Monetary Union in a bid to expand its operations in the eight countries that comprise the currency union, the Financial Times reported. The bank expects to commence operations in the region by 2018-end.
* U.S. private equity firm Milost Global Inc. said it ended discussions with Nigeria-based Unity Bank Plc regarding a $1 billion capital injection, after receiving threats that it would be shut out of Nigeria if the transaction moves ahead, Bloomberg News reported. Meanwhile, two unnamed foreign investors are set to acquire a minority stake in Unity Bank this year, Reuters reported, citing CEO Tomi Somefun.
* Separately, ASO Savings & Loans Plc dismissed media reports claiming that Milost Global is injecting $250 million of equity capital into the Nigerian lender, according to Business Post Nigeria.
* United Bank for Africa Plc unit United Bank for Africa (UK) Ltd. secured a wholesale banking license from the U.K. Prudential Regulation Authority.
* Nigeria-based Wema Bank Plc secured a $15 million line of credit from the African Development Bank and $20 million from the Islamic Corp. for the Development of the Private Sector to support small and medium-sized enterprises in the country, Business Post Nigeria reported.
* Burkina Faso obtained approval from the West African Economic and Monetary Union's banking commission for the creation of a new agricultural bank, to be called the Banque Agricole du Faso, according to Financial Afrik.
* Export-Import Bank of China will grant a $500 million credit facility to Banque d'investissement et de développement de la CEDEAO to finance various development projects in West Africa, Financial Afrik wrote.
* Moody's affirmed Côte d'Ivoire's Ba3/NP long- and short-term issuer ratings. The outlook remains stable.
* The ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front elected Abiye Ahmed as chairperson of the country's ruling coalition, effectively making him prime minister, Reuters wrote. Ahmed would succeed Hailemariam Desalegn, who resigned as prime minister last month.
CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN AFRICA
* S&P Global Ratings said in a report that new leadership and ensuing policy announcements have boosted local and foreign investor confidence in South Africa, but noted that structural challenges remain. Sovereign analyst Gardner Rusike said the agency is "not yet anywhere near going upwards" as far as South Africa's rating is concerned, Reuters wrote.
* Moody's took various ratings actions on a number of South African lenders, including confirming the Baa3 long-term local- and foreign-currency deposit ratings of Standard Bank of South Africa Ltd., FirstRand Bank Ltd., Barclays Africa Group Ltd. unit Absa Bank Ltd., Old Mutual Plc unit Nedbank Ltd. and Investec Group unit Investec Bank Ltd. The Baa3 issuer ratings of Development Bank of Southern Africa, Industrial Development Corp. of South Africa Ltd. and Land & Agricultural Development Bank of South Africa were also confirmed following a similar action on the sovereign.
* Moody's also confirmed certain ratings of South African insurers Discovery Ltd., Guardrisk Insurance Co. Ltd., MMI Group Ltd., Old Mutual unit Old Mutual Life Assurance Co. (South Africa) Ltd. and Standard Insurance Ltd., among other actions, concluding the review for downgrade initiated Nov. 29, 2017.
* HSBC Holdings Plc froze an account linked to an alleged fraud by José Filomeno dos Santos, son of former Angolan President José Eduardo dos Santos, in which about $500 million in funds were siphoned abroad from Angola's central bank, the Financial Times wrote.
* Moody's affirmed Mauritius' Baa1 long-term issuer and senior unsecured ratings and maintained the stable outlook.
IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD
Asia-Pacific: South Korea's ING Life draws interest; 2 Chinese firms post higher FY'17 results
Europe: Commerzbank predicts fall in revenue; Deutsche Bank looks to replace CEO
Latin America: Caixa Seguridade prepares for IPO; Brazil finance chief eyes presidency
North America: Fed looks at modernizing CRA; Citi, Goldman Sachs boost hiring in Brazil
North America Insurance: Supreme Court rejects challenge in AIG bailout; PCS pegs storm losses at $1.36B
Leo Magno, Henni Abdelghani, Sophie Davies and Mariana Aldano contributed to this report.
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