* Société Maghrébine de Monétique, or S2M, has expanded into Sierra Leone through a partnership with Sierra Leone Commercial Bank, bringing the number of African countries in which the Moroccan electronic payments company is present to 26, Financial Afrik says.
MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA
* UAE President and Abu Dhabi Emir Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan on Saturday issued a law finalizing the merger of sovereign wealth funds Mubadala Development Co. PJSC and International Petroleum Investment Co. to create Mubadala Investment Co. The combined fund will hold assets of about $125 billion and will be headed by Khaldoon al-Mubarak as CEO, Reuters reports.
* Data from the Central Bank of the UAE showed that total bank deposits rose by 41.7 billion dirhams in December 2016, driven by an increase in resident and non-resident deposits. Gross bank assets rose by 1.6% to 2.611 trillion dirhams at the end of December 2016 from 2.569 trillion dirhams a month ago.
* Qatar National Bank SAQ dismissed reports that it was assigning a Chinese bank to arrange a syndicated loan, branding the news as "inaccurate" and "based on old negotiations." Reuters reported last week that the Qatari lender intended to raise a $1 billion, three-year syndicated loan from Asian lenders, with Agricultural Bank of China Ltd. having a leading role.
* Doha Bank QSC's board recommended a dividend of 3 Qatari rials per share.
* Arab National Bank received approval from the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority to establish a fully owned special-purpose vehicle in the Cayman Islands. The SPV will engage in derivatives trading and repo activities.
* Saudi United Cooperative Insurance Co. said net proceeds from its capital increase held in May 2015 amounted to 230.1 million Saudi riyals, of which 20 million riyals were added to the statutory deposit, while the remaining amount was invested in short-term deposits.
* Israel's government granted two banks that deal with Palestinian counterparts immunity from lawsuits within Israel and abroad accusing them of financing terrorism, Haaretz reports. Bank Hapoalim BM and Israel Discount Bank Ltd. reportedly demanded the Israeli government last year to provide them with legal and financial protections to continue working with Palestinian banks.
* Azerbaijan and Iran began talks on the integration of the bank cards system of the two countries, according to Sputnik News. One of the options being considered is connecting Iranian banks to Azerbaijan's card payments system.
* Omar Razzaz stepped down as chairman of Jordan Ahli Bank, Reuters writes.
* The Kuwaiti government mandated six banks, including HSBC Holdings Plc and Citigroup Inc., to advise on its debut international debt sale, Bloomberg News reports. The government had indicated in July 2016 that it could raise up to $10 billion from global debt markets to help plug a budget deficit.
* Kuwait Finance House KSCP named Waleed Mandini head of private banking services and special financial services, according to Al Qabas. Separately, Warba Bank KSCP appointed Simone Larbi Clements president of private banking services.
* The Kuwaiti commerce ministry set up a commission to review the country's insurance sector, Al-Seyassah writes.
* The weighted average interest rate of bank deposits in Omani rial rose to 1.443% in November 2016 from 0.904% in the year-ago period amid the tight liquidity situation in the Omani financial system, the Times of Oman writes, citing central bank data.
* Barclays Plc appointed Owen Dayson vice president of its wealth and investment management division for the Middle East and North Africa, the Kuwait Times writes. Antoine Roger Chemali and David Stephan will join the division as directors.
EAST AND WEST AFRICA
* The Kenyan government mandated the Nairobi-based units of Citigroup, Standard Bank Group Ltd., Standard Chartered Plc and Rand Merchant Bank to arrange $800 million in syndicated loans to help plug the government's budget deficit in the 2016-2017 fiscal year, insiders tell Bloomberg News. The government is expected to receive the funding by next month.
* BANK OF AFRICA – KENYA Ltd. will reduce its branches across Kenya to 30 as it moves to digitize most of its services, Business Daily Africa reports. The move will entail staff cuts, but it is unclear how many will be affected. The Star also covers.
* Central Bank of Kenya Governor Patrick Njoroge said the regulator will not deviate from a flexible exchange rate regime despite the current weakness of the shilling, Reuters writes.
* Moody's assigned first-time ratings to Tanzania-based National Microfinance Bank Plc, including long-term local- and foreign-currency deposit ratings of B1/B2, with stable outlooks.
* Yahya Jammeh flew out of Gambia and into exile in Equatorial Guinea after stepping down as Gambian president and ending his 22-year rule, Reuters and the Financial Times report. Jammeh and his family were given asylum in Equatorial Guinea, while Adama Barrow, who won against Jammeh in an election last month, was sworn in as Gambian president in Senegal and is expected to return to his country to assume his post.
* Ghana's new administration intends to review a $918 million loan program with the IMF, with senior minister-designate Yaw Osafo-Maafo saying the program "squeezes" the government's fiscal capacity, Reuters writes. Osafo-Maafo added that the government will continue allowing the central bank to help finance the country's budget deficit, an issue that the IMF opposes.
* Banque de Dakar, which launched operations in Senegal in 2015, received regulatory permission to open a subsidiary in Ivory Coast, Financial Afrik reports.
CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN AFRICA
* Banks in Angola are urging the government to create a bailout package aimed at protecting account holders as the continued decline in oil prices threaten to cripple the lenders' liquidity, Bloomberg News writes. Amilcar Silva, chairman of the Association of Angolan Banks, said the financial assistance could come from the government or be shared by all of the country's 28 operational lenders.
* Banco Económico SA, the successor to the Angolan unit of collapsed Portuguese lender Banco Espírito Santo SA, fully completed its transition and registered a net profit of about 9.97 billion Angolan kwanzas in 2015, according to Portuguese news agency Lusa. Banco Económico's full-year 2016 results will not be published until March, but CEO Sanjay Bhasin said they will be worse than the previous year due to the deteriorating economic situation in Angola.
* A group of bondholders said Mozambique's decision last week to skip a near-$60 million interest payment on $727 million in eurobonds was a strategic move that could hurt the country's debt-restructuring process, Bloomberg News reports. The country, which is already reeling from the discovery of previously undisclosed loans, could have chosen to skip the interest payment in a bid to force bondholders to come to the table and discuss a restructuring.
* The administrators of Poste Bank will present a recovery strategy for the troubled Gabonese lender today to Central African banking regulators, Financial Afrik reports.
IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD
Asia-Pacific: Fairfax Financial to sell Indian JV stake; Mizuho may move UK biz amid Brexit
Leo Magno, Henni Abdelghani, Pádraig Belton and Helen Popper contributed to this report.
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