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MENA news through May 9


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MENA news through May 9

* U.S. President Donald Trump said his country would withdraw from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. The decision means sanctions suspended under the deal will resume, leaving businesses that entered into contracts based on the agreement with either 90 or 180 days to cease those operations. Saudi Arabia welcomed the decision, saying it would work with major oil producers to mitigate potential supply shortages arising from the resumption of U.S. sanctions on Iran.

* U.S.-based diversified real estate investment trust Colony NorthStar Inc. is in preliminary discussions with Abraaj Group Ltd. to acquire a majority interest in the United Arab Emirates-based private equity firm's fund management unit, insiders told Bloomberg Markets.

* VTB Bank PJSC CEO Andrey Kostin said the Russian lender is prepared to give the Qatar Investment Authority sovereign wealth fund a loan if needed for its acquisition of an 18.93% stake in Russia's Rosneft Oil Co.


* Mizrahi Tefahot Bank Ltd. reported first-quarter net profit attributable to shareholders of 343 million Israeli shekels, up from a reclassified 321 million shekels in the year-ago period. The bank updated its dividend policy, increasing the payout ratio to 40% of its quarterly net profit from 30% in 2017.

* Meanwhile, Mizrahi Tefahot Bank said it is in advanced talks with the U.S. Department of Justice regarding a possible settlement of an investigation into the bank on suspicion of helping its U.S. customers evade taxes, Globes reported. The lender said it is possible that the amount of a settlement could be more than the initial 162 million shekels it had already set aside.

* Bank of Jerusalem Ltd. wrote to the board of directors of Dexia Israel (Public Finance) Ltd. saying it was seeking a merger in cooperation with its fellow Israeli lender rather than a hostile takeover.

* Samba Financial Group reported first-quarter net profit of 1.31 billion Saudi Arabian riyals, up from 1.23 billion riyals in the same period in 2017, primarily attributable to a 15.3% year-over-year decline in total operating expenses.

* Saudi British Bank reported first-quarter net profit of 1.04 billion Saudi Arabian riyals, virtually flat from the year-ago period, while Saudi peer Alawwal Bank posted first-quarter net profit of 286.1 million riyals, down from 324 million riyals in the year-ago period.

* Former Banque Saudi Fransi CEO Patrice Couvegnes was placed under a travel ban in Saudi Arabia, as a result of a probe into the bank's alleged misuse of a staff bonus scheme, insiders told Reuters.

* Shuaa Capital PSC signed a memorandum of understanding with Saudi Arabian real estate firm Jabal Omar Development Co. to launch and manage real estate investment vehicles in Saudi Arabia.

* Private equity firm Gulf Capital Pvt. JSC acquired a strategic stake in Saudi Geidea, an electronic payment solutions and financial technologies provider, for a total deal value exceeding 1 billion Saudi Arabian riyals.

* Commercial Bank of Dubai PSC named Darren Clarke CFO.

* Dubai Holding LLC said it will invest up to 1 billion UAE dirhams over the next five years to establish a digital bank in the UAE. The company expects the digital bank's first products to launch in 2019 and plans to expand the lender's services across the Middle East and North Africa.

* Mashreqbank PSC said it intends to enter India's nonbank financial institution sector through an engagement with IL&FS Financial Services to offer external commercial borrowings in Indian rupees, Trade Arabia wrote.

* U.K.-based Bank of London & The Middle East Plc has opened a branch in the Dubai International Financial Centre and appointed Rayan Kazerooni as the branch's senior executive officer.

* Al Baraka Banking Group BSC reported first-quarter net income attributable to equity shareholders of $35.0 million, up from $34.0 million in the same period in 2017.

* Arab Banking Corp. BSC, or Bank ABC, named Alex Leenen group COO at its head office in Bahrain.

* GFH Financial Group BSC said it received an offer to sell its entire real estate portfolio. GFH also mandated Gulf International Bank BSC to help it with plans to cross list on the Saudi Stock Exchange, subject to approval by the Central Bank of Bahrain and the Saudi Capital Market Authority.

* Central Bank of Bahrain Governor Rasheed al-Maraj said the country has adequate foreign reserves to maintain the Bahraini dinar's peg to the U.S. dollar, according to Bloomberg News.

* KAMCO Investment Co. KSC signed an initial agreement to acquire a 69.528% stake in Global Investment House.

* Warba Bank KSCP confirmed a report that it made a nonbinding offer to purchase a significant stake of Global Investment House KSC (Closed) for 60 million Kuwaiti dinars. Separately, the bank said its chief corporate banking officer, Basel al-Obeid, has resigned, effective July 31.

* Kuwait Finance & Investment Co. KSC (Public) and Kuwait Middle East Financial Investment Co. have agreed to a merger of Alawsat Broker and KFIC Broker to create a giant broker firm that they own equally, Al-Jarida reported.

* Qatar's Commercial Bank PSQC has hired BofA Merrill Lynch, Al Khaliji, Barclays, QNB Capital, Standard Chartered Bank and Wells Fargo as joint lead managers for its planned sale of a benchmark-sized U.S. dollar-denominated bond. The planned public bond issuance would be the first by a Qatari bank since the embargo against Qatar was imposed by a group of neighboring Arab states, Reuters noted.

* Official results from Lebanon's May 6 elections showed that Iran-backed militant group Hezbollah and its political allies secured at least 65 of the 128 seats in parliament, while Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri's Future Movement party won 21 seats, down from the previous 33, Reuters reported. However, al-Hariri is still expected to form the next government as he emerged with the largest bloc in parliament.


* Commercial International Bank (Egypt) SAE reported first-quarter net profit after minority interests of 2.02 billion Egyptian pounds, up from 1.73 billion pounds in the year-ago period.

* Emirates NBD Bank PJSC unit Emirates NBD SAE appointed Mohamed Berro CEO and a member of the executive committee of Emirates NBD group, according to a press release carried by Thomson Reuters' Zawya.

* Moroccan investment bank CFG Bank has closed a 300 million dirham capital increase, taking its total equity to 700 million dirhams and allowing two pan-African investors — Africinvest and Amethis — to take shares in the entity, Financial Afrik wrote.

Henni Abdelghani contributed to this report.