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In this list

Bank Hapoalim Q4'18 profit down YOY; Tadawul debuts on emerging market indexes

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Bank Hapoalim Q4'18 profit down YOY; Tadawul debuts on emerging market indexes

* Insurers in the 15-country Francophone Conférence Interafricaine des Marchés d'Assurances zone have three months to raise their capital to 3 billion CFA francs, Financial Afrik wrote.

GULF COOPERATION COUNCIL

* Global index providers FTSE Russell and S&P Dow Jones Indices started including the Saudi Arabian stock exchange, or Tadawul, in their respective emerging markets indexes. The Tadawul will be added to the FTSE Russell Emerging Markets index in five tranches over the next 12 months. It is also eligible for 50% of float-adjusted market capitalization on S&P Dow Jones Emerging Market Indices' Global Benchmark Indices starting yesterday, with the remaining 50% inclusion expected Sept. 23.

* Bank AlBilad will hold an extraordinary general assembly on April 9 to decide on a proposed 25% capital increase that would shore up the bank's capital to 7.5 billion Saudi Arabian riyals from 6 billion riyals, Argaam reported. The increase would be carried out through the issuance of 1 bonus share for every 4 shares presently held.

* Gulf Union Co-operative Insurance Co. has ceased its contractual agreement for sales and marketing with Watad National Insurance brokers, as the company is changing its strategy to focus on online sales rather than through brokers.

* Fitch Ratings affirmed the A+/F1 long- and short-term issuer default ratings of Qatar National Bank (QPSC), among other ratings. The outlook on the long-term rating is stable.

* Fitch affirmed several ratings of Doha Bank QPSC, including the lender's long- and short-term issuer default ratings at A/F1, with the long-term rating carrying a stable outlook.

* The shareholders of National Bank of Fujairah PJSC approved a plan to increase the ceiling of the bank's nonconvertible Additional Tier 1 capital instruments by $500 million, bringing the ceiling to $636.1 million, to bolster the UAE-based bank's capital base.

* Kuwait Finance House KSCP Chairman Hamad Abdulmohsen al-Marzouq said due diligence for the lender's planned takeover of Bahrain-based Ahli United Bank BSC may take two to three months, Reuters reported.

* Foreign banks operating in Kuwait informed the Central Bank of Kuwait that it is not yet ready to increase the number of Kuwaiti national employees to 70% as stipulated by the regulator, Al Rai reported.

* Bahrain Insurance Association appointed Ibrahim al-Rais as president and Yahya Noureddin as vice president, Akhbar Alkhaleej reported.

* Bahrain's Al Baraka Banking Group BSC and U.S.-based Mastercard Inc. signed a memorandum of understanding to improve the payments system, particularly including Islamic banking, in the Middle East and North Africa.

REST OF MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

* Israel's Bank Hapoalim BM's fourth-quarter 2018 net profit attributed to shareholders fell 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. Excluding extraordinary items, such as expenses in respect of the provision for the U.S. investigation and the discontinuation of the activity in Switzerland, the bank's attributable profit totaled 991 million shekels, compared to 908 million shekels in the fourth quarter of 2017.

* 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.

* The Banque de Tunisie announced a 110 million dinar profit in 2018, a 19% decline from the previous year, reported Il Boursa.

EAST AND WEST AFRICA

* Nigeria's central bank and the Securities and Exchange Commission approved the planned merger of local lenders Access Bank PLC and Diamond Bank PLC. The deal, which has already received shareholders approval, is still subject to judicial sanction by Nigeria's Federal High Court.

* A Nigerian Federal High Court ordered O&O Networks Ltd., a special purpose vehicle owned by Togo-based Ecobank Transnational Inc. Ecobank Transnational Inc., to repay the 22.5 billion naira it gained from the alleged wrongful sale of shares in Airtel Networks Ltd. by Ecobank to Bharti Airtel, Proshare Nigeria reported. O&O Networks dismissed the report, saying there has been no material development in the case, ThisDay wrote.

* Attijariwafa Bank SA and KCB Group PLC signed a memorandum of agreement that allows the Moroccan lender to access the Kenyan and regional markets through the latter, Business Daily Africa wrote.

* S&P Global Ratings affirmed the B/B long- and short-term foreign- and local-currency sovereign credit ratings of Ghana, with a stable outlook on the long-term ratings. Fitch also affirmed the country's B/B long- and short-term foreign- and local-currency issuer default ratings, with a stable outlook on the long-term ratings.

* Côte d'Ivoire's state treasury launched an online banking app called e-banktresor, Agence Ecofin reported. The government hopes it will make it easier for residents to buy sovereign bonds and help finance the country's budget.

CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN AFRICA

* Carel Vosloo, Rand Merchant Bank's co-head of investment banking, is resigning at September-end, the South African bank told Bloomberg News. Emrie Brown will become sole head of the division, while Vosloo will join the bank's corporate and institutional executive committee.

* Investec Group said the planned demerger and separate listing of Investec Asset Management remains on track, and that it expects the division to report results that are "marginally behind the prior year." The group, which is listed in London as Investec PLC and in South Africa as Investec Ltd. Investec Ltd., also expects its wealth and investment business to report lower results.

* Angolan banks have sharply reduced access to credit cards among their clients, with the number of new cards issued falling roughly 30% last year, Expansão reported, citing executives at leading lenders. The newspaper said many banks had stopped issuing credit cards altogether during the financial crisis of recent years while others were demanding hefty current account deposits of up to 500,000 kwanzas as a condition. Demand for credit cards remains strong, however, partly because they have been used as a way to make overseas payments amid tight central bank controls on foreign currency sales.

IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD

Asia-Pacific: Macquarie Bank to shutter Seoul branch; State Bank of India to raise 200B rupees

Europe: Deutsche, Commerz in tie-up talks; Rabobank sells unit; ING Italy in hot water

Latin America: Mexican banks reach commissions pact; Argentina mulls extending Leliq term

North America: Fidelity National, Worldpay to combine; Wells in talks to sell retirement biz

Global Insurance: Genstar-backed insurer eyes IPO; Puerto Rico insurer limited; Maiden's big loss

Erin Tanchico, Henni Abdelghani, Pádraig Belton and Helen Popper contributed to this report.

The Daily Dose Middle East and Africa has an editorial deadline of 4 a.m. London time. Some external links may require a subscription. Links are current as of publication time, and we are not responsible if those links are unavailable later.

This S&P Global Market Intelligence news article may contain information about credit ratings issued by S&P Global. Descriptions in this news article were not prepared by S&P Global Ratings.

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.