GULF COOPERATION COUNCIL
* Bahrain-based Ithmaar Holding BSC has launched the region's first biometric-enabled ATM network, Arabian Business reported.
* The UAE's Securities and Commodities Authority fined Fujairah Shares & Bonds Co. LLC for failing to disclose its financial data in violation of broker regulations, according to Al Bayan.
REST OF MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA
* Attijariwafa Bank SA reported first-quarter IFRS net income group share of 1.42 billion Moroccan dirhams, up from 1.35 billion dirhams earned a year earlier.
* S&P Global Ratings revised the outlooks on Arab Tunisian Bank and Banque de l'Habitat SAL to negative from stable and affirmed their B/B long- and short-term issuer credit ratings. The agency also affirmed Banque Tuniso-Koweitienne's B long-term issuer credit rating, with a negative outlook, as well as Banque de Tunisie et des Emirats SA's B-/B long- and short-term issuer credit ratings, with a stable outlook.
* Fitch Ratings downgraded Tunisia-based Wifak International Bank SA's long- and short-term national ratings to BB(tun)/B(tun) from AA+(tun)/F1+(tun), with a stable outlook on the long-term rating.
* Israel Investment Partners' debut fund, IIP I, has revised its target to $500 million from an initial $350 million after it was oversubscribed, Globes wrote.
EAST AND WEST AFRICA
* Ghana's government has made available more than 900 million cedis to pay off 1.2 million depositors and creditors of the 386 insolvent microfinance firms whose licenses were recently revoked by the central bank. PricewaterhouseCoopers' Eric Nipah, who oversees the receivership process, told Joy Business that the firms' total debt stands at around 1.1 billion cedis, and that the 900 million cedis provided by the government will be able to cover the majority of validated retail customers. The firms' assets and liabilities will be assessed for 10 days while claims will be processed and validated for another 30 days, after which payment could begin at designated Consolidated Bank of Ghana branches, he added.
* The Bank of Ghana is currently assessing the status of local rural banks as part of its cleanup of the financial sector and has advised several lenders facing liquidity challenges to seek strategic partners to avoid facing punitive actions, Joy Business wrote, citing Kofi Amoah Awuah, the regulator's head of other financial services.
* Meanwhile, the Ghanaian government is preparing to allocate 7 billion cedis to the central bank to allow the regulator to start a cleanup of the savings and loans sector, Citi Business News reported, citing banking consultant Nana Otuo Acheampong.
* Ghanaian electronic payments firm Nsano has unveiled a fraud management center as part of efforts to increase security and standardize its information security management processes, Joy Business reported.
* Andrew Chimphondah, CEO of pan-African housing finance institution Company for Habitat and Housing in Africa, or Shelter Afrique, said its members owe it 9.8 billion Kenyan shillings in capital subscription arrears since its cash call in 2013, Business Daily Africa reported. The institution has 44 member African countries and two financial institutions.
* The IMF said lending to small businesses and the number of loans issued by small Kenyan banks dropped after a lending rate cap law introduced by lawmakers in 2016 came into effect, Kenyan Wall Street noted.
* The Kenyan government's stake in KCB Group PLC will increase to 27.92% after its stake in National Bank of Kenya Ltd. are converted into shares in the group, Business Daily Africa noted.
* Britam Holdings PLC said it spent 664 Kenyan shillings in 2018 as part of a restructuring exercise that saw 110 employees leave the company, Business Daily Africa wrote.
* Co-operative Bank of Kenya Ltd. CEO Gideon Muriuki said the lender is looking to tap its customers to attract new business for its leasing unit Co-op Bank Fleet, Business Daily Africa reported.
* Kenya's central bank said its monetary policy committee will hold its next meeting July 24.
* Senegal has returned to the securities market after a two-year absence with three treasury bond issues collectively worth 50 billion CFA francs, Agence Ecofin reported.
* S&P Global Ratings assigned B/B long- and short-term foreign- and local-currency sovereign credit ratings to Togo, with a stable outlook.
CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN AFRICA
* The rand fell more than 1% against the dollar after data showed that the South African economy contracted in the first quarter. Real GDP fell 3.2% on a quarterly basis in the first three months of 2019, following a 1.4% increase in the fourth quarter of 2018, marking the largest quarterly drop in about 10 years, according to Statistics South Africa.
Shortly after the data was announced, South Africa's governing party, the African National Congress, agreed to expand the central bank's mandate beyond price stability to include employment, growth and inflation, Reuters reported, citing ANC Secretary General Ace Magashule.
* Wendy Lucas-Bull, chair of Absa Group Ltd., told shareholders that the South African bank's potential new CEO will start work in 2020, saying candidates for the role have significant lock-ins in terms of commitments and are subject to cool-off periods imposed by the central bank, Business Day reported. Meanwhile, Lucas-Bull said the group will voluntarily develop a comprehensive policy on climate change, the newspaper noted.
* South African payments firm Net 1 UEPS Technologies Inc. appointed Paul Edwards to the newly created position of deputy chairman of its board of directors.
* Russian lender VTB Bank PJSC's 50.1% stake in Angola-based Banco VTB Africa SA could be purchased by Rostang Ltd., according to Angola's Competition Regulatory Authority. The company is affiliated with Leonid Ranchinsky, who in 2015 served as a management board member at VTB Africa and could be the actual buyer of VTB's stake in the Angolan lender, Kommersant noted.
IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD
Asia-Pacific: Bank of China begins India operations; Volt Bank eyes ASX listing
Europe: Fresh UK insider-trading probe; Piraeus in €328M deal; France vs. Credit Suisse
Latin America: Peru cabinet faces confidence vote; Brazil sees GDP growth forecast reduction
North America: UK regulator probes Citi links in insider trading case; CU buying Ariz. bank
Global Insurance: June 1 renewals pricing; Everest cuts retro buy; NFIP extended through September
Deza Mones, Henni Abdelghani, Pádraig Belton and Mariana Aldano 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 Ratings. Descriptions in this news article were not prepared by S&P Global Ratings.