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Iran moves to stem rial slide; Ethiopia PM resigns; Egypt central bank rates cut

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Iran moves to stem rial slide; Ethiopia PM resigns; Egypt central bank rates cut

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

* Central Bank of Iran Governor Valiollah Seif said the regulator will raise deposit rates, allowing lenders to offer up to 20% interest on fixed one-year deposits for two weeks beginning Feb. 17, as part of efforts to strengthen the Iranian rial, which has dropped to a record low of around 50,000 to the U.S. dollar in the free market, Reuters reported. Meanwhile, Iranian authorities arrested about 100 foreign-currency traders and shuttered 10 foreign-exchange offices.

* First Insurance Co. Ltd. said CEO Ali Al-Wazani will be leaving the company, effective Feb. 27.

* Deloitte and Touche (Middle East) is set to appear in court after the Dubai International Finance Centre Courts ruled that a claim against the accountancy firm over the failure of Lebanese Canadian Bank SAL should go to trial, Thomson Reuters' Zawya wrote. The claim was submitted by a group of minority shareholders, including Nest Investments Holding SAL, with a combined 24% stake in the collapsed lender.

* The board of directors of Arabian Shield Cooperative Insurance Co. recommended a 50% capital increase to 300 million Saudi Arabian riyals through the issuance of 1 bonus share for every 2 shares held, Argaam wrote.

* Bahrain-based Al Baraka Banking Group BSC appointed Mohamed el-Moncer as general manager of unit Al Baraka Bank Tunisia. He replaces Fraj Zaaq, who retired in January.

* The Kuwait Insurance Federation named Khaled al-Hassan chairman and Saleh al-Selmi vice chairman, replacing Abdulrazak al-Wahib and Majid al-Ali, Al Jarida reported.

* Tunisia's parliament approved the appointment of former World Bank official Marouane el-Abassi as the new Central Bank of Tunisia governor, Reuters reported. He replaces Chedli Ayari, who resigned this week at the request of Prime Minister Youssef Chahed.

* The Central Bank of Egypt lowered its overnight deposit rate, overnight lending rate and the rate of its main operation by 100 basis points each to 17.75%, 18.75% and 18.25%, respectively. The discount rate was also lowered by 100 basis points to 18.25%.

* Moody's upgraded the insurance financial strength rating of Gulf Insurance Group KSCP's Egypt-based unit Arab Misr Insurance Group Co. SAE to Ba3 from B1, with a stable outlook.

EAST AND WEST AFRICA

* Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn resigned Feb. 15, Reuters and BBC News reported. Desalegn said his resignation was "vital in the bid to carry out reforms that would lead to sustainable peace and democracy" in the country.

* Moody's downgraded to B2 from B1 the long-term local-currency deposit ratings of KCB Group Plc unit KCB Bank Kenya Ltd., Equity Group Holdings Plc unit Equity Bank (Kenya) Ltd. and Co-operative Bank of Kenya Ltd., concluding a review for downgrade initiated Oct. 4, 2017.

* Fitch Ratings affirmed Stanbic Bank Kenya Ltd.'s BB- long-term issuer default ratings and revised the outlook to stable from negative, among other actions.

* Fonds Européen de Financement Solidaire, a private equity company based in Luxembourg, invested 100 million Kenyan shillings in Kenya-based microfinancier Musoni Microfinance Ltd., Business Daily Africa reported.

CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN AFRICA

* Cyril Ramaphosa was sworn in as South Africa's president after being elected by parliament to the post, multiple media outlets reported, including The Washington Post and the Financial Times. Ramaphosa replaces former President Jacob Zuma, who resigned on Wednesday after ruling since 2009.

* Stephen Koseff, who is stepping down Oct. 1 as CEO of Investec Group, has agreed to become chairman of foodservice business Bid Corp. Ltd., effective March 31.

* Viceroy Research issued a new report casting doubt on Capitec Bank Holdings Ltd.'s lending practices, again accusing the South African lender of overstating its loan book and having inadequate provisioning for bad debts, Fin24 reported. In response to the allegations, Capitec again described the report as filled with factual inaccuracies.

IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD

Europe: Aegon Q4 profit up 110%; Rabobank FY'17 profit jumps; Creval prices share issue

Latin America: Intercorp's profit tumbles in Q4'17; Banco Agibank mulls IPO

North America: Wells Fargo selling Puerto Rican assets for $1.7B; House OKs 'Madden Fix' bill

North America Insurance: Excess capital may dampen property rate hikes; HHS head vows to uphold ACA

Leo Magno, Henni Abdelghani, Pádraig Belton 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.