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Fitch downgrades Zambia; US regulator fines Mashreqbank over compliance issues

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Fitch downgrades Zambia; US regulator fines Mashreqbank over compliance issues

* Economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa is projected to increase to 3.1% in 2018 from 2.7% in 2017, but the region has to put up policies focusing on shielding the recovery, the IMF said in its latest regional economic report for sub-Saharan Africa.

GULF COOPERATION COUNCIL

* Dubai-based Mashreqbank PSC agreed to pay $40 million to the New York State Department of Financial Services over violations by its New York branch of U.S. anti-money laundering and record-keeping laws. The regulator ordered Mashreqbank to hire third-party consultant to address compliance deficiencies at the branch and review its transaction clearing activity for April to September 2016.

* First Takaful Insurance Co. - KPSC said it is has received an offer for its 35% stake in Turkey's Neova Sigorta, subject to the results of a due diligence study.

* Qatar National Bank (QPSC) and Qatar Islamic Bank (QPSC) raised a combined $1.3 billion in private bond offerings, insiders told Reuters. Qatar National Bank reportedly raised $1 billion at September-end, while Qatar Islamic Bank raised $300 million in early October.

* Saudi Arabia's Capital Market Authority fined Medgulf Cooperative Insurance and Reinsurance Co. 180,000 riyals for violating listing rules and corporate governance regulations from 2008 to 2017.

* A.M. Best affirmed Doha Insurance Group QPSC's financial strength rating at A- (Excellent) and its long-term issuer credit rating at "a-". The agency also affirmed United Arab Emirates-based Al Sagr National Insurance Co. PSC's financial strength rating at B+ (Good) and its long-term issuer credit rating at "bbb-". The outlooks on both entities' credit ratings are stable.

* The Sharjah Entrepreneurship Centre and Al Ansari Exchange Ltd. signed a memorandum of understanding to support financial technology start-ups in the UAE via promoting an exchange of expertise and knowledge between large corporations and startups, Emirates News Agency reported.

* UAE-based International General Insurance Holdings Ltd. appointed Stephen Rix chief actuary.

* Bahrain will get $2 billion from neighboring Gulf nations before the end of 2018 as the first part of an aid package, insiders told Reuters. The funds will reportedly be included in Bahrain's 2019 budget, while another $2 billion due by 2019-end may also be included. Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the UAE last week pledged to provide $10 billion in financial aid to Bahrain to support its financing needs.

*The Bahrain Association of Banks have set a committee that includes 35 members representing 24 banks and financial institutions operating in Bahrain, to review the impact of the implementation of the value-added tax on the country's banking system, Akhbar Al Khaleej reported.

REST OF MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

* The Egyptian central bank agreed to enter a new repurchase transaction with a consortium of international banks, including First Abu Dhabi Bank PJSC and HSBC Bank PLC, for a total amount of $3.8 billion, in a deal aimed at enhancing the regulator's liability management by extending the duration of its debt structure.

* Groupe Crédit Agricole du Maroc intends to launch bancassurance services in Morocco by 2021, Agence Ecofin wrote.

EAST AND WEST AFRICA

* Ghana's UT Life Insurance Ltd. has rebranded to miLife insurance, according to Joy Business. CEO Kwaku Yeboah-Asuamah denied that the rebranding was triggered by the collapse of UT Bank Ltd., saying the move was necessary to increase the insurer's offerings to consumers, according to a separate report.

* World Bank Country Director for Ghana Henry Kerali urged the country's central bank to increase regulations on Ghanaian microfinance firms and rural banks, saying a number of such firms are not effectively supervised by the regulator, Joy Business reported.

* First National Bank Ghana Ltd. named Mark Yeboah Achiampong head of commercial and business banking, Joy Business reported.

CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN AFRICA

* South Africa-based Sanlam Ltd. and Santam Ltd. have closed their acquisition of the remaining 53.37% ownership of Morocco's Saham Finances SA. The effective date for the acquisition of the Morocco-based insurer is Oct. 9.

* Meanwhile, Sanlam will proceed with the sale of a 5% stake in the company to black investors as part of South Africa's plan to put more control of the economy to the black majority, CEO Ian Kirk told Bloomberg News. Kirk said the deal will help the South African financial services group restore its capital reserves to between 2 billion rand and 3 billion rand.

* Audit firm KPMG is facing renewed backlash in South Africa over its role in the collapse of VBS Mutual Bank following the publication of a report into a corruption scandal at the bank, the Financial Times wrote. KPMG cleared VBS in 2017, just months prior to the bank's collapse in March 2019. Meanwhile, South Africa's Democratic Alliance opposition party laid criminal charges of fraud, corruption, bribery and racketeering against the 53 individuals named in the report, the FT noted.

* South Africa's Competition Commission approved Sanlam Investment Holdings Ltd.'s acquisition of a 69% stake in Catalyst Fund Managers (Pty) Ltd, according to Business Day.

* Shares in South African financial services firm Old Mutual Ltd. fell 26% in early trading on Oct. 10 as the company moves forward with the unbundling of its majority stake in Nedbank Ltd., South Africa's Business Day reported.

* Fitch Ratings downgraded Zambia's long-term foreign- and local-currency issuer default ratings to B- from B, with a negative outlook. The agency also affirmed Zambia's short-term foreign- and local-currency issuer default ratings at B.

* Angola's Finance Minister Archer Mangueira said the government will use a part of the $2 billion loan granted by China's Development Bank to settle the debt with Chinese creditors, Macauhub wrote.

IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD

Asia-Pacific: MUFG Bank seeks higher Vietinbank stake; Japanese firm eyes North America

Europe: Brexit deal 'within reach'; Natixis eyes Ingenico; Tryg Q3 profit dips YOY

Latin America: Itaú names 2 directors to XP; Peru opposition leader arrested

North America: OCC may penalize Citi for discriminatory lending; Investar to buy Texas bank

Global Insurance: Michael strikes hard; Catalina adds $700M to war chest; Centene's ACA growth

Erin Tanchico, Henni Abdelghani, Sophie Davies and Mariana Aldano contributed to this report.

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