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Fitch downgrades Lebanon; Mozambique's central bank holds key rate


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Fitch downgrades Lebanon; Mozambique's central bank holds key rate

* Munich Re Co.'s supervisory board appointed Achim Kassow to the board of management, effective May 1, 2020. Kassow will assume responsibility for Asia-Pacific and Africa.

* The Basel Committee on Banking Supervision published a discussion paper to seek views on a range of issues related to the prudential regulation of crypto-assets from various stakeholders and market participants. Comments on the discussion paper are to be submitted by March 13, 2020.


* The Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority is requesting public comments, beginning Dec. 12, on the draft of licensing rules for activities in support of financing activities. The rules aim to regulate licensing provisions for such companies.

* Separately, SAMA suspended Al-Wafaa Insurance Agency, Najm Alt-Tazzam Insurance Agency, My Documentary Insurance Agency and Mazoon Al-Namaa Insurance Agency from practicing any activity in the insurance sector for failing to comply with the regulatory requirements of the cooperative insurance companies control law.

* Saudi Arabian Oil Co.'s shares surged another 10% at the Dec. 12 open, briefly surpassing the $2 trillion valuation sought by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Aramco's share price soared the daily maximum of 10% for the second consecutive day to 38.7 riyals, before paring gains to trade at 37.50 riyals, up 6.5% on the prior close.

* Abu Dhabi National Takaful Co. PSC plans to distribute 6 million United Arab Emirates dirhams cash dividend generated from excess insurance operations profits, WAM reported.

* Central Bank of the UAE Governor Mubarak al-Mansouri said the growing number of assets and cryptocurrencies increase risk management to higher and innovative levels, Al-Ittihad reported. He also said that cryptocurrencies represent a real risk on the financial system.

* KAMCO Investment Company K.S.C.P. has completed its merger with Global Investment House KSC (Closed), and swapped the 138,877,635 shares of Global with 104,884,308 shares of KAMCO raised from the capital increase. The swap value was 0.75522821 of KAMCO for every share of Global.

* The board of directors of Al Aman Investment Company - K.P.S.C. approved the merger between the company and The Securities House K.S.C.P., and to dissolve the company and transfer all its assets to the Securities House.

* National Bank of Bahrain BSC has set out the proposed timetable of its takeover offer for the shares of Bahrain Islamic Bank BSC , with Dec. 18 as opening date for the offer and Jan. 2, 2020 as initial offer closing date. The final closing date is yet to be announced.

* Bank Muscat SAOG secured regulatory approval to commence a financial technology investment program of about $100 million. The bank said the investment would be made gradually in the next few years.


* Saad Hariri, Lebanon's caretaker prime minister, met with the heads of the World Bank and the IMF to discuss a potential rescue as the country goes deeper into financial crisis, news outlets including Bloomberg News reported. A rescue package could be launched following the formation of a new cabinet, Reuters noted.

* Fitch Ratings downgraded Lebanon's long-term foreign- and local-currency issuer default ratings to CC from CCC over concerns that the sustained political uncertainty will increase the likelihood of the country defaulting on its loans. Fitch said the rating actions reflect the growing probability of a government debt restructuring or default due to acute political uncertainty, the introduction of de facto capital controls and dwindling trust in the country's banking sector.

* Fitch also downgraded the long- and short-term issuer default ratings of Lebanese lenders Bank Audi SAL and Byblos Bank SAL to Restricted Default from CCC-/C, and the banks' viability ratings to "f" from "ccc-". Meanwhile, the banks' support rating and support rating floor were affirmed at 5 and No Floor, respectively.

* The Central Bank of Egypt expects to sell part of its stake in United Bank (SAE) in the first half of next year but has not decided yet on the size of the stake, Governor Tarek Amer told Amwal al Ghad.

* Raya Holding Company for Financial Investments (S.A.E) is looking at setting up a new business unit focusing on micro-insurance in 2020 as part of the Egypt-based firm's plans to focus on nonbanking financial activities, Chairman Medhat Khalil told Amwal Al Ghad.

* Ahmed Hassan Darwish, general manager of Egypt-based Royal Insurance, said the company's general assembly approved a plan to increase its paid-in capital to 150 million pounds, Amwal Al Ghad reported.

* Capital Intelligence Ratings downgraded to B- from B the long-term foreign-currency rating of Iran-based Saman Bank (PJSC) and changed the outlook on the rating to stable from negative.

* The board of Morocco-based Umnia Bank recommended an increase in the bank's capital to 1.1 billion dirhams from 600 million to make way for its expansion ambitions and improve services, The Peninsula reported.

* Tunisia's central bank announced new initiatives intended to boost the country's fintech sector, including a regulatory sandbox, Financial Afrik reported.


* A.M. Best affirmed the financial strength rating of B+ and the long-term issuer credit rating of "bbb-" of Nigeria-based Continental Reinsurance Plc. The outlook is stable.

* Nigerian banks refunded some 76.75 billion naira to customers as of November-end, Vanguard reported, citing Kofo-Abdulsalam Alada, the director of the Nigerian central bank's consumer protection department. The refunds arose from various financial-related complaints.

* Representatives of Kenya's financial sector are set to visit Barbados over the next two weeks to explore business opportunities, according to Standard Digital. The Kenyan delegation will likely include officials from the central bank and from Nairobi Securities Exchange Plc.

* Niger decided to join the African Trade Insurance Agency, with its $12.5 million costs of participation provided by the European Investment Bank, according to Agence Ecofin.


* Moody's lowered the long-term local-currency bank deposit rating of Angola-based Banco Económico SA to Caa1 from B3 and revised the outlook to negative from stable. Moody's also downgraded the bank's baseline and adjusted baseline credit assessments to "ca" from "caa2" and affirmed its long-term foreign-currency bank deposit rating at Caa1.

* Angola's central bank made a compulsory purchase of $89 million from four commercial banks that had exceeded a new lower limit on their foreign currency position, Jornal de Angola reported. The regulator, which wants banks to stop hoarding scarce greenbacks, recently reduced the limit on lenders' foreign currency position to 2.5% from 5%.

* Meanwhile, Angolan banks are still struggling to restore normal dollar-clearing services with U.S. correspondent banks, Expansão reported. It quoted numerous banking executives as saying U.S. banks were still wary about resuming dollar sales that were halted due to concerns about transparency and compliance in the Angolan financial system.

* Banco de Moçambique maintained its MIMO key interest rate at 12.75%. The central bank also kept the standing deposit facility and standing lending facility unchanged at 9.75% and 15.75%, respectively. The reserve requirement ratios for liabilities in local and foreign currency were also maintained at 13.0% and 36.0%, respectively.

* Egypt-based African Export-Import Bank is set to open a new office in Cameroon's capital of Yaounde that will serve as a regional office for Central Africa, Cameroon Tribune reported.


Asia-Pacific: Bank of Baroda sells Caribbean unit; Bangkok Bank buys Bank Permata

Europe: UK challenger banks seek rule easing; Credit Suisse faces new spying claim

Latin America: Brazil cuts key rate; XP shares jump 28% in Nasdaq debut

North America: JPMorgan to restructure wealth management biz; NYSE revises direct listing plans

Global Insurance: Principal Financial targets; RenRe cat bond; Progressive earnings; Convex rating

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 Ratings. Descriptions in this news article were not prepared by S&P Global Ratings.