GULF COOPERATION COUNCIL
* Anwar Gargash, the United Arab Emirates' minister of state for foreign affairs, said he expects the diplomatic row between several Arab states and Qatar to continue this year, Bloomberg News reported. The UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Bahrain severed ties with Qatar in June 2017 over allegations of the latter supporting terrorism.
* Invest Bank PSC shareholders are set to meet Jan. 8 to consider an enhanced investment offer from the government of Sharjah in the UAE. Sharjah's government had previously offered to invest up to 1.9 billion dirhams in the struggling lender through a two-stage investment plan.
* Emirates Islamic Bank PJSC has introduced a cardless cash withdrawal feature through its mobile banking app.
* Saudi British Bank and Alawwal Bank have filed a request with the Saudi General Authority for Competition to approve their planned merger, Argaam wrote, citing a statement from the regulator.
* Saudi Arabia's Capital Market Authority greenlighted Gulf Union Co-operative Insurance Co.'s request to increase its capital to 241.9 million riyals from 150 million riyals by issuing 9,193,548 ordinary shares to acquire all the shares of Al Ahlia Insurance Co. for Cooperative Insurance from its shareholders through a securities exchange.
* Qatar First Bank LLC (Public) has transferred all of its shares in QF Ventures UAE to Yaghnam International, in a deal valued at $30 million to be paid over a three-year period.
* Kuwait's Capital Markets Authority renewed its initial approval allowing Warba Bank KSCP to undertake certain securities activities, including investment portfolio and collective scheme management, for six months beginning Feb. 14.
* Separately, Kuwait's Capital Markets Authority revoked the license and liquidated Al-Muthanna Islamic Index Fund.
* Gulf Investment House KSCP has increased its stake in Afkar Holding Co. KSC by 6.82% to 41.76%.
* Kuwait's Capital Markets Authority is set to appoint Khalaf al-Jassim head of its complaints and grievances committee, replacing Adnan Sultan, Al-Qabas wrote.
* First Investment Co. KSCP received regulatory nod to buy and sell 10% of its shares.
* Gulf Insurance Group KSCP obtained regulatory approval to buy and sell no more than 10% of its issued shares for a period of 6 months.
* Bahrain's Khaleeji Commercial Bank BSC received central bank approval to extend the validity period for the lender to trade up to 10% of its issued shares for a further 90 days beginning Dec. 30, 2018.
REST OF MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA
* Israel's banking regulator will ask the Bank of Israel governor to issue a license for U.S. private equity company Warburg Pincus LLC's 2.5 billion shekels purchase of Bank Leumi le-Israel BM credit card unit Leumi Card Ltd. Israel's two top banking institutions Bank Hapoalim BM and Bank Leumi have been ordered by regulators to divest their credit card companies by early 2020, in order to spur competition.
* Israeli lenders will be required to report foreign residents with bank accounts in Israel to tax authorities of their home countries, after the Middle Eastern nation agreed to implement the automatic exchange of information, or AEOI, standard, Globes reported.
* Iran's Guardian Council, which is in charge of reviewing and approving legislation passed by parliament, has again rejected an anti-terrorism financing bill aimed at improving the country's banking sector to bring it in line with international standards, Bloomberg wrote, citing Tasnim News Agency.
* Lebanese Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil warned that the country's current state of economic crisis could turn into a financial one due to the ongoing political deadlock, Reuters reported. Lebanon has yet to finalize a government since the parliamentary elections in May 2018.
* Egypt expects to receive this month the fifth tranche, worth $2 billion, of its three-year, $12 billion loan program with the IMF, Reuters reported.
* Tunisian Islamic lender Wifak International Bank SA will issue sukuk worth 150 million dinars over the next three years to finance its activities, Agence Ecofin wrote.
* Shareholders in Société d’Assurances Multirisques Ittihad AMI approved a plan to issue equity securities worth 35 million Tunisian dinars, which will be reserved for the insurance compnay's main shareholder, Banque Nationale Agricole, Agence Ecofin reported.
EAST AND WEST AFRICA
* First National Bank Ghana Ltd. confirmed it is in discussions for a possible takeover of GHL Bank Ltd., Joy Business wrote. GHL Bank reportedly opened up to merger talks due to challenges in meeting the Bank of Ghana's new 400 million cedi minimum capital requirement in light of problems with one of its major shareholders, UAE-based private equity firm Abraaj Group Ltd.
* Stanbic Bank Ghana Ltd. took over customers of the Ghanaian unit of India-based Bank of Baroda, insiders told Graphic Online. The arrangement reportedly allowed for the unit's closure on Dec. 31, 2018, with an official announcement expected today.
* United Bank for Africa (Ghana) Ltd. appointed Isong Udom its new managing director, effective Jan. 1, Joy Online reported. Udom replaces Abiola Bawuah, who will take up a new role as regional CEO of UBA West Africa.
* CalBank Ltd. has met the Bank of Ghana's minimum capital requirement by the 2018-end deadline, according to Joy Online.
* S&P Global Ratings revised to stable from negative the outlook on Diamond Bank PLC and raised the bank's long-term Nigeria national scale rating to "ngBB" from "ngBB-", among other rating actions. The agency also affirmed Access Bank PLC's B/B long- and short-term issuer credit ratings and ngA/ngA-1 Nigeria national scale ratings, with a stable outlook.
* The European Union and the World Bank cut financial aid to Tanzania amid concerns about the Tanzanian government's crackdown on human rights, according to Agence France-Presse.
CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN AFRICA
* Manuel Chang, Mozambique's finance minister between 2005 and 2015, was arrested in South Africa at the request of U.S. authorities, who are seeking his extradition, African News Agency reported. Chang is facing charges of wire fraud, money laundering and securities fraud.
* Fitch Ratings affirmed Angola's B/B long- and short term foreign- and local-currency issuer default rating and removed them from Rating Watch Evolving. The outlook on the long-term ratings is stable.
* Insurance companies' activities in Mozambique contracted in the third quarter of 2018 to 2.9 billion meticais from roughly 3.1 billion meticais in the previous quarter, O País wrote. The result was driven by the non-life segment, particularly automobile insurance.
* Marème Mbaye Ndiaye has been named director general of Société Générale Cameroun, Financial Afrik reported.
IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD
Asia-Pacific: Sumitomo affiliate, Toyota unit to form JV; India's LIC names acting chair
Deza Mones, Henni Abdelghani, Sophie Davies and Mariana Aldano 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 Ratings. Descriptions in this news article were not prepared by S&P Global Ratings.