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Saudi Arabia opens doors to Fitch; Mozambique cuts key rate

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

* Saudi Arabia's Capital Market Authority granted Fitch Australia Pty. Ltd. a license to conduct credit rating activities in the country. S&P Global Ratings became the first foreign rating agency to be allowed to conduct such activities in Saudi Arabia after the CMA approved its license in late 2016, Reuters notes.

* Saudi Arabian Oil Co.'s board is set to meet in Shanghai on May 10 as part of efforts to attract Chinese and other Asian investors to its planned IPO in 2018, insiders tell Reuters. The Shanghai meeting marks Saudi Aramco's first board meeting in China since 2010.

* Bank of Jordan Plc Chairman Shaker Tawfiq Fakhouri said the lender intends to enter the Saudi market, Al Eqtisadiah reports.

* Weqaya Takaful Insurance and Reinsurance Co. submitted a request to the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority to increase its capital by 600 million Saudi Arabian riyals to 800 million riyals through a rights issue.

* The Abu Dhabi Global Market's Financial Services Regulatory Authority revised the capital requirements applicable to managers of collective investment funds, with effect from April 10.

* AlRajhi United agreed to acquire an interest in investment banking advisory firm Badwa Capital for an undisclosed amount, CPI Financial reports. The funds from the transaction will be used to finance the expansion plans of Badwa Capital, which will remain independent and majority-owned by its management.

* UAE-based financial services firm Menacorp named Tariq Qaqish managing director of asset management.

* Qatar First Bank LLC (Public) said its board of directors accepted the resignation of CEO Ziad Makkawi and resolved to appoint Khalid al-Khoori as acting CEO.

* Islamic Insurance Co. Plc's shareholders approved a 25% share capital increase to 15 million Jordanian dinars through a bonus issue, Middle East Insurance Review reports.

* The Libyan dinar dropped to record lows against the U.S. dollar on the black market amid foreign currency scarcity, traders tell Reuters. The dinar reached up to 8.3 to the dollar, compared to the official exchange rate of 1.4 dinars per dollar.

* CI Capital Managing Director Amr Abol-Enein said the Commercial International Bank (Egypt) SAE investment banking unit is seeking to sign the contracts to run a new equity fund for one of the banks operating in Egypt before the end of the first half, Amwal Al Ghad writes.

* Mohamed al-Beltagy, chairman of the Egyptian Islamic Finance Association, said Islamic banking has a 5.2% market share in the Egyptian banking sector, Amwal Al Ghad reports.

* Mostafa Gad, co-head of EFG-Hermes Holding SAE's investment banking division, told Reuters that the bank is advising on five to six IPOs and acquisitions this year.

EAST AND WEST AFRICA

* Cytonn Investments said in a report that consolidation in the Kenyan banking sector will continue as weaker banks are acquired by more stable lenders and as more foreign entities enter the sector through acquisitions and setting up new operations, following the Central Bank of Kenya's lifting of a moratorium to license new banks.

* FCP AL BARAKA, the first Islamic mutual fund in the West African Economic and Monetary Union, will be launched tomorrow in Dakar, Senegal, according to Financial Afrik.

* United Bank for Africa Plc approved the distribution of a final dividend of 55 Nigerian kobo per share for 2016, bringing the total dividend to 75 kobo per share, up from 60 kobo per share in 2015.

* Tanzanian financial advisory firms Vervet Global and Orbit Securities Ltd. are establishing mutual funds that will allow foreign investors to participate in mobile operator Vodacom Tanzania Ltd.'s IPO, Bloomberg News reports. The offer is currently only open to local investors due to the country's domestic ownership rules.

CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN AFRICA

* The Banco de Moçambique reduced its benchmark lending rate by 50 basis points to 22.75%, Reuters reports. Meanwhile, the central bank will increase the minimum share capital and the solvency ratio requirements for local banks within the next three years, Jornal de Negócios writes. The minimum share capital requirement will rise to 1.7 billion meticais from 70 million meticais, while the minimum solvency ratio requirement will rise to 12% from 8%.

* Banco de Moçambique Governor Rogério Zandamela said "four or five" commercial banks are exposed to hidden state debts, but noted that the amounts are not significant enough to put the Mozambican financial system at risk, Observador reports.

* The South African Reserve Bank warned in its annual monetary policy review that the risk of additional ratings downgrades from credit rating agencies could prompt capital outflows and place the rand under renewed downward pressure, potentially accelerating inflation. The central bank said forecast inflation for 2018 and 2019 is still relatively high at above 5%, limiting the scope for rate cuts.

* South African Reserve Bank Deputy Governor Daniel Mminele told Reuters that the central bank will not intervene in the foreign exchange markets unless their orderly functioning is under threat. The rand has dropped nearly 12% since March 27, when then-Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan was ordered to return home from an international investor road show, the newswire notes.

* Meanwhile, the Johannesburg Stock Exchange said it is investigating trading in listed securities that saw "material moves in the value" around the time that Gordhan was recalled from the road show, Business Day reports.

IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD

Asia-Pacific: Indian bank cyberattack similar to Bangladesh heist; VPBank eyes stake sale, IPO

Europe: Barclays CEO investigated; HBOS probed; Brexit contingency plans due by July

Latin America: BNDES approves dividend policy; Peru estimates up to $9B flood recovery cost

North America: ISS wants 12 Wells directors out; Triton Aviation Finance considers liquidation

North America Insurance: Rates may rise if insurers lose ACA subsidies; individual market improved in '16

Leo Magno, Henni Abdelghani, Pádraig Belton and Mariana Aldano contributed to this report.

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