MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA
* S&P Global Ratings revised its outlook on Israel to positive from stable, reflecting its view that there is a potential for stronger-than-anticipated general government fiscal performance over the next two years despite existing pressures on the country's spending.
* Qatar National Bank (QPSC) has held early talks with international banks to discuss a potential private placement, bond sale or loan later this year as it considers its funding options amid an ongoing standoff between Qatar and its Arab neighbors, insiders told Bloomberg News. A spokesperson for Qatar's biggest bank said the lender has yet to make a definite decision on the matter.
* Qatar Islamic Bank (Q.P.S.C) has launched its second series of certificates of deposits. The bank said the one- and two-year CDs will be available to individual and corporate customers in Qatari riyals and U.S. dollars.
* A unit of Doha Bank Q.S.C. is planning to off-load some of its assets in the UAE and has held talks with local banks about a potential deal, insiders told Reuters. The decision comes amid the continuing dispute between Qatar and its neighboring Arab states.
* Moody's assigned Iraq a Caa1 long-term issuer rating, with a stable outlook; B3 long-term local- and foreign-currency bond ceilings; and Caa2 long-term local- and foreign-currency deposit ceilings. The action reflected the agency's view that the country experiences volatile economic growth dependent on oil, low institutional strength due to weak governance and a high debt burden with an overwhelming dependence on oil revenues.
* Samba Financial Group reported first-half net profit of 2.50 billion Saudi Arabian riyals, down by 2.8% from the year-ago 2.57 billion riyals, which was attributed to an 8.2% rise in gross operating expenses due to higher credit costs and other general and administrative expenses, Argaam noted.
* The shareholders of Solidarity General Takaful B.S.C. and AL Ahlia Insurance Co. BSC have approved their planned merger, Trade Arabia wrote. The merger will be effected in December, with the combined entity set to be named Solidarity Bahrain BSC.
* S&P Global Ratings affirmed Kuwait's AA/A-1+ long- and short-term foreign- and local-currency sovereign credit ratings. The outlook is stable, reflecting the agency's expectation that the Gulf state's public and external balance sheets will remain strong over the forecast horizon, backed by a significant stock of financial assets.
* First Takaful Insurance Co. KSC (Public) Chairman Laila Abdul Karim Al-Ibrahim has resigned, effective Aug. 3.
* The head of the general authority of financial control in Egypt, Sherif Samy, has retired, Al-Masry Al-Youm reported.
* The Central Bank of Egypt said the capital of lenders operating in the country rose to 128.30 billion Egyptian pounds at April-end from 114.56 billion pounds in the previous month, Daily News Egypt wrote.
* Banque Misr - SAE said it has raised roughly $3.3 billion since the flotation of the pound in November last year until July this year, Amwal Al Ghad reported. Vice Chairman Akef El Maghraby said the lender opened letters of credit worth approximately $5.5 billion over the past 8 months to meet import payments.
* Egyptian Minister of International Cooperation Sahar Nasr said the country's foreign direct investments is expected to have increased to roughly $8.7 billion in the 2016-2017 fiscal year ended June, compared to approximately $6.9 billion a year earlier, Reuters noted.
* Faisal Islamic Bank of Egypt (SAE) said it spent about 70 million pounds on upgrading its IT infrastructure and systems, which was completed in April, Amwal Al Ghad wrote.
EAST AND WEST AFRICA
* Incumbent Rwandan President Paul Kagame secured a third term in office after winning nearly 99% of the vote in last Friday's presidential election, extending his 17-year rule until at least 2024, the Financial Times and The Wall Street Journal reported.
* Kenya Reinsurance Corp. Ltd. said it revised its accounting policies to strengthen its collection of unpaid premiums as it sets aside 104.3 million shillings in provisions for bad loans on a quarterly basis, compared to previously when it was done on a yearly basis, Business Daily Africa reported, citing Kenya Re Chairman David Kemei.
* Wema Bank Plc CFO Tunde Mabawonku said the lender is seriously weighing the current interest rate environment before making a decision on its planned bond issuance, ThisDay wrote. The bank already raised 6.25 billion naira under its 50 billion naira bond program last year, and is left with 43.75 billion naira to raise in the market.
* Skye Bank Plc plans to take over a number of oil wells owned by Jide Omokore, a businessman linked to some corruption cases within and outside Nigeria, The Nation wrote. The lender claims that Omokore owes it roughly 110 billion naira in loans.
* Moody's affirmed East African Development Bank's Baa3 long-term issuer rating and maintained the stable outlook, reflecting the regional multilateral lender's high capital position and strong liquidity.
CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN AFRICA
* South African Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba warned that the country risks slipping into financial crisis if the debts owed by state-owned companies were mishandled, but that the government has no plans of privatizing the country's troubled state airline SSA, Reuters wrote.
* New Liberty Holdings Ltd. CEO David Munro said the company is taking a cautious approach toward further expansion and will instead focus on higher-margin products as part of its turnaround drive, Reuters reported. Munro said he plans to take advantage of the recently launched pension policy Agile 2.0, which enables investors to take on more risks to boost returns while offering protection against volatile markets.
* S&P Global Ratings lowered the Democratic Republic of the Congo's long- and short-term foreign-and local-currency sovereign credit ratings to CCC+/C from B-/B, with a stable outlook, reflecting its view that currency depreciation and runaway inflation will persist and reserves will remain extremely low unless the political crisis is resolved and donor funding is restored.
* Deogratias Mutombo, governor of the Democratic Republic of the Congo's central bank, has confirmed that Trust Merchant Bank SA is operating normally, and denied online rumors that the entity is bankrupt, Radio Okapi reported.
* Meanwhile, Mutombo said the Banque Centrale du Congo pumped $20 million into the forex market last Friday in a bid to help prop up a depreciating franc amid political turmoil and a rise in inflation rate, Reuters reported.
* The IMF said the Republic of the Congo's debt is higher than reported during the fund's mission in March as government officials failed to fully disclose their debt situation until June, Reuters wrote. The Republic of the Congo is embroiled in a dispute with bondholders and rating agencies over what they claim is a default on a $363 million eurobond, which the country denies.
* S&P Global Ratings affirmed Mozambique's long- and short-term foreign currency ratings at SD/SD and its long- and short-term local currency sovereign credit ratings at B-/B, with a stable outlook, reflecting the agency's view that metical-denominated government debt will continue to be honored.
IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD
Asia-Pacific: Mirae Asset Life merger gets nod; ex-China Development Bank exec imprisoned
S&P Global Ratings and S&P Global Market Intelligence are owned by S&P Global Inc.
Sheryl Obejera, Henni Abdelghani, Sophie Davies and Mariana Aldano contributed to this report.
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