* Wissam Fattouh, secretary general of the Union of Arab Banks, noted that although Arab lenders are stepping up their efforts in financial technology to cut costs, many banks are not paying enough attention to regulatory technology, Argaam reported. He said banks "have to improve supervision and monitoring capacity through digital technology and data analysis," without which cybersecurity risks and financial crime vulnerability would heighten.
GULF COOPERATION COUNCIL
* Abu Dhabi sovereign investment fund Mubadala Investment Co. is once again planning to sell Switzerland-based Falcon Private Bank AG in a bid to distance itself from the 1MDB money laundering scandal, insiders told Bloomberg News. The fund is said to have sought bids of at least CHF5 billion of assets managed by Falcon.
* Fundedbyme Crowdfunding Sweden AB (publ) has started operations in Dubai after clinching a license from the Dubai Financial Services Authority, Arabian Business wrote. The unit, called FundedByMe MENA, aims to kick off its first campaign on the new platform in the second quarter.
* Qatar plans to launch Energy Bank, an Islamic bank focused on financing energy projects, in the fourth quarter. The lender aims to raise its paid-up capital to $10 billion from $2.5 billion at present, Mohammed al-Marri, chairman of bank's media committee, said.
* Alinma Bank is not planning on any M&A activity this year, CEO Abdulmohsen al-Fares told Argaam. He noted that the Saudi Arabian bank expects double-digit growth in the first quarter.
* The general assembly of Kuwait Finance House KSCP approved increasing the company's capital to 6,976,489,202 shares from 6,342,262,911 shares through the distribution of 10% bonus shares of the authorized and paid-up capital.
* The Kuwait Banking Association has requested the economy ministry to extend the deadline of increasing the percentage of Kuwaiti nationals working in local banks to 70% to January 2020 instead of July 2019 due to lack of local talents who can occupy such positions, and the high turnover of Kuwaitis working for banking sectors, Al Rai reported. Turnover at Kuwaiti banks stands at around 35%, with 90% being Kuwaiti nationals.
* Standard Chartered Bank Bahrain appointed Abdulla Abdelrazak Boukhoda CEO, Akhbar Alkhaleej reported.
REST OF MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA
* Bank Hapoalim BM is looking to issue up to 1.25 billion Israeli shekels in bonds, according to Reuters. The bank is looking at increasing an existing series of bonds by up to 1 billion shekels and could also issue as much as 250 million shekels in contingent convertible bonds.
* Capital Intelligence Ratings raised the long-term foreign-currency rating of National Bank of Iraq to B from B-, citing improved sovereign credit risk assessment.
* Morocco's central bank maintained its key rate at 2.25%, broadly in line with inflation, growth and external accounts prospects. Separately, central bank Governor Abdellatif Jouahri said the government plans to price two international bonds of 11 billion dirhams each in 2019 and 2020, Reuters reported.
* Attijariwafa Bank SA reported full-year 2018 net income group share of 5.71 billion Moroccan dirhams, up 5.8% from the year-ago 5.39 billion dirhams. The board will propose a dividend of 13 dirhams per share to the ordinary general meeting of shareholders.
* Banque Centrale Populaire's full-year 2018 net profit attributable to shareholders increased by 3.5% to 2.9 billion Moroccan dirhams, Reuters reported. An annual dividend of 7.5 dirhams per share, up 15.4%, was proposed.
EAST AND WEST AFRICA
* S&P Global Ratings expects the creditworthiness and financial profile of Nigerian lenders to remain stable through the year unless another oil price shock occurs. The agency added that it does not anticipate banks' ratings to be upgraded due to the effects of past woes.
* The merger of Nigerian lenders Access Bank PLC and Diamond Bank PLC took effect yesterday following the receipt of the court sanction of the merger.
* Access Bank issued 15 billion Nigerian naira in senior unsecured green bonds, according to The Punch. The notes were priced at 15.5%, with a five-year tenor.
* Kenyan lender KCB Group PLC is planning to launch units in Somalia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo in a bid to expand its regional foothold to 10 countries, Business Daily Africa reported. The group is seeking to enter the Democratic Republic of the Congo over the next three years through an acquisition, but CEO Joshua Oigara said entering Somalia would be tougher due to regulatory conditions.
* Mali's commercial banks and the government signed an agreement to create a treasury single account, Financial Afrik reported. Several other countries, including Nigeria, have created such accounts to consolidate inflows from government agencies to a single account held in the central bank.
CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN AFRICA
* South African asset manager Alexander Forbes Group Holdings Ltd. appointed Bruce Bydawell CFO and director, effective April 1. Bydawell replaces Naidene Ford-Hoon, who resigned last year.
* Paul Magula and Ernest Nesane, former chief risk officer and legal head, respectively, of South African sovereign investment fund Public Investment Corp. (SOC) Ltd., have been banned from the financial services sector after they were deemed unfit and improper under the country's Financial Advisory and Intermediary Services Act, Mail & Guardian reported.
* Zimbabwe is looking to raise up to $350 million from divestment of its stocks in several state-owned companies, including People's Own Savings Bank, Reuters wrote, citing Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube. The potential divestments form part of the government's economic reform plan, the report noted.
* Shareholders of Angola's Banco Angolano de Investimentos SA are set to vote on a proposal to boost the bank's share capital to 157.5 billion kwanzas from the current 14.7 billion kwanzas, Valor Econômico reported. The proposed capital increase, which would make BAI the country's second-biggest lender by capital, will be made by incorporating reserves and shareholders will not be asked to inject more cash, according to the report. A vote on the plan will be held at a March 28 general meeting.
* U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan said the Treasury Department would analyze the resumption of correspondent banking services between Angola and the U.S., Macauhub reported. He spoke after talks with Angolan President João Lourenço, saying the Treasury would send a representative to work with Angolan officials on issues related to corruption and transparency in the local financial system. U.S. banks halted dollar-clearing services to the African nation in recent years due to government transparency concerns, causing acute shortages of greenbacks in Angola.
IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD
Asia-Pacific: State Bank of India, Bank of China sign MOU; SBI opens new unit
Europe: Brexit vote blocked; France ups capital buffer for banks; Danske split rejected
Latin America: Banco de Bogotá profit soars; HSBC rebuilds Brazilian operation
North America: Goldman sets workforce diversity goals; Citi starts Frankfurt broker/dealer ops
Global Insurance: NFIP changes; Axa Equitable share sale; 2 insurers reveal Boeing exposure
Erin Tanchico, Henni Abdelghani, Pádraig Belton and Helen Popper contributed to this report.
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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.