GULF COOPERATION COUNCIL
* The Central Bank of the United Arab Emirates and the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority denied reports that they have started using digital currencies for cross-border settlements, The National reported. The central banks are working on a joint project experimenting with blockchain technology to facilitate cross-border payments between the two countries, with aim to complete the project in late 2019.
* Qatar is reportedly looking at raising its stake in Deutsche Bank AG, Bloomberg News wrote, citing Handelsblatt. "We will invest in a large financial institution in Germany," Qatar Financial Centre CEO Yousef Mohammed al-Jaida told the German newspaper but did not specify which financial firm.
* The Central Bank of the UAE said it is prepared to support struggling lender Invest Bank PSC with "all the available liquidity facilities" if necessary, according to Reuters. The newswire previously reported that Invest Bank, which struggles to deal with a pile of bad debt, will receive a capital injection from the emirate of Sharjah. The bank said its board will recommend the capital injection to shareholders.
* Mubarak Rashed Khamis al-Mansoori was reappointed governor of the Central Bank of the UAE for the next four years, amid a restructuring of the regulator's board of directors, Khaleej Times reported, citing state news agency WAM. Hareb Masoud Hamad al-Darmaki and Abdulrahman Saleh al-Saleh were named chairman and vice chairman, respectively.
* UAE Securities and Commodities Authority Chairman Obaid al-Zaabi said radical changes in the monitoring, regulation and supervision of the local financial markets will take effect soon, as the regulator is currently finalizing a number of regulations awaiting approval from concerned authorities, Al Khaleej reported.
* Shuaa Capital PSC said its post-acquisition integration and consolidation efforts with Kuwait-based Amwal International Investment Co. KSCP has commenced following the recent completion of the public tender acquisition process. Amwal also unveiled a new board of directors comprising Bader Al Reizhan, Fawad Tariq Khan, Khaleefa al-Mheiri, Oliver Lee, Ali Tariq, Adil Mustafa and Abdullah Galadari.
* The Kuwaiti Ministry of Commerce and Industry said that foreign investors would now be permitted to own and trade in shares of local banks, with direct or indirect ownership not exceeding 5% in any Kuwaiti bank, Gulf Business reported.
REST OF MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA
* Lebanon's central bank governor, Riad Salameh, said the regulator will continue its present financial operations in 2019 despite the political turmoil in the country, citing a stable balance sheet over the past 12 months, Reuters wrote.
* Tehran Stock Exchange has officially launched equity future contracts, the Financial Tribune reported.
* Banque Misr SAE appointed Khalil el-Bawab co-CEO and managing director of Misr Finance Investment as part of the unit's restructuring, according to Daily News Egypt.
* Nouvelle Banque de Mauritanie CEO Abdel Baghy Ahmed Bouha signed a partnership agreement with BGFI Bank Europe Managing Director Francisco de Musso, Financial Afrik said. The banks said the arrangement will enable Nouvelle Banque de Mauritanie to access "several million" euros in additional lines of credit to offer in loans to Mauritania's fisheries, farming and mining industries.
EAST AND WEST AFRICA
* Access Bank PLC has acquired Nigerian lender Diamond Bank PLC, with the official announcement expected to be made by the Central Bank of Nigeria within the week, insiders told TheCable.
* The Bank of Ghana reportedly has no objection to discussions regarding a planned merger between First Atlantic Bank Ltd. and Energy Commercial Bank Ghana Ltd., Joy Business wrote. The move paves the way for the two lenders to merge and meet the central bank's new minimum capital requirement of 400 million Ghanaian cedis by the December-end deadline.
* Access Bank (Ghana) PLC named Olumide Olatunji managing director, effective Dec. 5. Olatunji replaces Ifeanyi Njoku, who has taken up a new role within the group.
* Togo-based Ecobank Transnational Inc. is being investigated by the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria over allegations that the pan-African lender applied incorrect exchange rates to manipulate its income statements and balance sheet items to improve its financial results, according to The Sunday Times. Nedbank Group Ltd. has a 21.2% stake in Ecobank.
* Chief Linus Ukachukwu, CEO of Lingo Nigeria Ltd., has demanded 1 billion Nigerian naira in damages from Ecobank PLC, which he accused of forging his documents to open an account for his firm to collect dividends amounting to around 50 million naira of Lingo Nigeria shares, according to Nigeria's Independent.
CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN AFRICA
* In its latest quarterly bulletin, the South African Reserve Bank said foreign direct investment inflows in the country fell by nearly 3 billion rand in the third quarter, while portfolio investments increased to 17.9 billion rand from 16.6 billion rand, Reuters reported.
* Moza Banco SA announced the acquisition of 100% of the capital of Banco Terra SA, as part of a strategy to consolidate the assets portfolio and financial structure of the company, O País reported. In a second operation, Moza performed a capital increase through the fund management Arise, which will now hold 29.5% of the bank's shares.
* The Bank of Namibia revised down its predicted GDP growth for 2018 and 2019, citing weaker year-to-date performances in sectors including retail trade, real estate and business services. In its economic outlook update for December, the central bank said it expects the country's economy to contract in 2018 before recovering in 2019 with a 1.5% growth, down from the earlier forecast of 1.9% in July.
IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD
Asia-Pacific: China to share investor identities with Hong Kong; Sri Lanka reinstates PM
Sheryl Obejera, Henni Abdelghani, Padraig Belton and Mariana Aldano contributed to this report.
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