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Central banks respond to Fed hike; Gabon restructures 3 banks

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Central banks respond to Fed hike; Gabon restructures 3 banks

* The central banks of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Kuwait raised interest rates just minutes after the U.S. Federal Reserve decided to raise, for only the second time since the 2008 global financial crisis, its key interest rate by 25 basis points, in a bid to avoid downward pressure on their respective currencies, Reuters reports. The Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority raised the reverse repo rate to 75 basis points from 50 basis points with immediate effect, but kept the repo rate at 200 basis points, citing "recent developments" in domestic and international financial markets.

* The Central Bank of Kuwait, meanwhile, raised the discount rate by 25 basis points to 2.50%, effective today, citing "movements in interest rates on major international currencies." The Bahraini central bank also raised by 25 basis points the policy interest rate on its one-week deposit facility to 1.00%, the overnight deposit rate to 0.75%, the one-month deposit rate to 1.50% and the lending rate to 2.75%, according to Reuters.

* Sanlam Ltd. and majority-owned unit Santam Insurance Ltd. will increase their stake in Morocco-based Saham Finances SA by a further 16.6% to 46.6% for $329 million, plus transaction costs. Sanlam and Santam first acquired a 30% stake in SAHAM Finances in February.

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

* Banks and other financial institutions in the UAE have advised expatriates that they will be required to collect clients' tax details beginning Jan. 1, 2017, due to the implementation of a new global policy against cross-border tax evasion, Gulf News reports. Separately, the UAE's central bank revised its anti-money laundering regulation to prohibit the use of assumed names or numbers to open bank accounts.

* Emirates NBD Bank PJSC unit Emirates Islamic Bank PJSC launched subscriptions to its 1.5 billion UAE dirham rights issue, Reuters reports. The subscription period begins Dec. 14 and ends Dec. 28.

* National Bank of Abu Dhabi PJSC closed syndication of its $2 billion club loan facility, according to CPI Financial. The lender received nearly $3 billion in commitments from 14 banks from Europe, the U.S. and Asia.

* Israeli investment house Halman-Aldubi signed a deal, first announced in September, to carry out a reverse merger and go public on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, Reuters reports. The company will merge with Soho Real Estate and will trade as Halman-Aldubi Investment House, with shareholders retaining a 71% stake in the new company and the remaining 29% to be held by retail investors.

* Bank Alkhair B.S.C. (c) sold its stake in Pakistan-based Burj Bank to Al Baraka Bank (Pakistan) Ltd. Bank Alkhair previously held a 37.9% equity stake in Burj Bank.

* The Egyptian central bank said high-interest deposit certificates issued by lenders since the pound float in November have attracted new investment inflows amounting to 64 billion pounds so far, Reuters reports.

* The Central Bank of Egypt said its board of directors approved a new version of its regulations for mobile payment services. Under the new version, customers can receive cross-border family remittances into their mobile accounts, and money transferred can be disbursed by beneficiaries through agents across the country.

EAST AND WEST AFRICA

* Several Nigerian banks will not renew agreements with the Central Bank of Nigeria relating to currency swaps, bankers tell the Financial Times. Most of the swap agreements will expire within the year, but lenders have begun refusing the central bank to renew the deals as they have lost confidence in Governor Godwin Emefiele's handling of the foreign exchange market.

* The Bank of Uganda reduced the central bank rate to 12% from 13%, saying there is scope to continue easing monetary policy as core inflation is forecast to remain around the medium-term target of 5% over the next 12 months.

* Atlantic Business International Group launched a new automatic money transfer system through its Banque Atlantique banking network, Financial Afrik writes. The service, which enables bank accounts holders to make money transfers via ATMs to non-holders, is available in all member states of the West African Economic and Monetary Union.

* Cal Bank Ltd. is in talks with the International Financial Corp. to raise $20 million to support Ghana's small and medium-sized enterprise sector, Joy Business reports.

CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN AFRICA

* Banco de Moçambique Governor Rogério Zandamela said the central bank injected nearly 8 billion meticais into Moza Banco SA to prevent the Mozambican financial system from collapsing, Jornal de Negócios reports. Zandamela said the money is expected to be repaid to the government once Moza Banco is either sold or recapitalized.

* The Mozambican central bank kept its benchmark lending rate at 23.25%, citing expectations that inflation will fall, Reuters reports.

* The Gabonese government has commenced the restructuring of three state-owned banks, Agence Ecofin reports. The government is looking into the option of placing the healthy assets of Banque de l'Habitat du Gabon, Postbank and the Banque Gabonaise de Développement under the country's own Caisse des dépôts et consignation, effectively making CDC the only public bank in Gabon.

* The African Development Bank Group agreed to provide $325 million to Banco de Poupança e Crédito SA to support micro, small and medium-sized enterprises in Angola, according to Angop.

IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD

Asia-Pacific: China Minsheng Banking shareholder boosts stake; India's LIC gets new chairman

Europe: Italian banking sector outlook revised; Old Mutual unit prices share sale

Latin America: Brazil Senate OKs spending cap; Banco Interfinanzas sale approved

North America: Out today: the FOMC announcement and possibly news of Blankfein's new No. 2s

North America Insurance: Anthem/Cigna antitrust trial phase 1 ends; Life Partners exits bankruptcy

Leo Magno, Sarah Raslan, Sophie Davies and Mariana Aldano contributed to this report.

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