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Bank of Israel holds rate; Abraaj's stake in fund to be divided among investors

GULF COOPERATION COUNCIL

* Qatar has set aside $2 billion as part of an incentive plan aimed at attracting multinational firms to its financial hub in Doha in a bid to rival Dubai, Bloomberg News reported, citing Qatar Financial Centre Authority CEO Yousuf Al Jaida.

* Qatar National Bank (QPSC) CEO Ali Ahmed al-Kuwari described the lender's U.S. dollar liquidity as "excellent" and said it currently has no need of funding, Reuters reported.

* Obaid Saif al-Zaabi, head of the United Arab Emirates' Securities and Commodities Authority, said the nation intends to introduce initial coin offerings in 2019 to provide firms an alternative way of raising funds, Reuters reported. The regulator is drafting regulations for ICOs and should have them in place in the first half of 2019, al-Zaabi noted.

* Investment bank Exotix Capital has partnered with Saudi Arabia-based NCB Capital Co. to provide research and local execution services to frontier and emerging markets, Reuters reported.

* Trading of the new shares in Ajman Bank PJSC under the lender's the rights issue will run between Oct. 10 and Oct. 24, according to Dubai Financial Market.

* Fitch Ratings affirmed the long- and short-term issuer default ratings of Warba Bank KSCP, Ahli United Bank KSCP, Boubyan Bank KSCP, Commercial Bank of Kuwait KPSC, Gulf Bank KSCP, Al Ahli Bank of Kuwait K.S.C.P., Kuwait International Bank KSCP, Industrial Bank of Kuwait KSC, Kuwait Finance House KSCP and Burgan Bank KPSC at A+/F1, and those of National Bank of Kuwait SAKP at AA-/F1+, among other ratings.

* AlixPartners, which manages Abraaj Group Ltd.'s $1 billion healthcare fund on an interim basis, has decided to redistribute the Dubai-based group's stake in the fund to its other investors, insiders told Reuters. Local lenders whose loans to the group were secured against the stake are now reportedly considering legal action against AlixPartners, as the decision could leave banks with no returns on their investments.

* A new investment law permitting 100% foreign ownership of companies in the UAE will only apply to "strategic sectors" of the economy, which curbs the risk that the law will disrupt existing business, Reuters reported, citing Dubai investment officials.

* UAE-based payment solutions provider Network International LLC, in which Emirates NBD Bank PJSC holds a 51% stake, and its shareholders are looking at various strategic options for the company, including a potential IPO.

* Al Ramz Corp. Investment and Development P.J.S.C. said that it has divested from its investment of 17.76% in Takaful Emirates PJSC after achieving the target return.

* Germany-based insurer HDI Global SE intends to place its Bahrain operation into full runoff by mid-2019, The Insurance Insider reported.

* Ahli United Bank BSC said the Central Bank of Bahrain has published a notice regarding the lender's application for the planned reorganization of its legal structure by setting up a new wholly owned subsidiary, Ahli United Bank – Bahrain BSC (c), which will undertake the group's domestic business under a retail banking license. AUB's Bahrain business will be transferred to the new entity, following which the group intends to operate under a wholesale banking license in Bahrain.

REST OF MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

* The Bank of Israel maintained its benchmark interest rate at 0.1% and pushed back its forecast for a rate hike, citing a projected temporary decline in inflation to below the central bank's target range.

* Israel named former Phoenix Holdings Ltd. Chairman Moshe Bareket commissioner for capital markets, insurance and savings, Reuters reported, citing the country's finance ministry. Bareket succeeds Dorit Salinger, who stepped down from the post in August.

* Israel Discount Bank Ltd. appointed Shaul Kobrinsky as its new chairman, replacing Joseph Bachar, Reuters reported. Kobrinsky will assume his post Dec. 3.

EAST AND WEST AFRICA

* Ghana's Association of Savings and Loans Companies has backed the Ghanaian central bank's plan to rid the system of insolvent firms, Citi Business News reported.

* The Banque de Développement du Mali-SA has opened a new branch in Bamako, after recent openings in Sebenikoro and Kalaban-Coura, Le journal de l'économie Malienne wrote.

CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN AFRICA

* Kuben Naidoo, a deputy governor of the South African Reserve Bank and CEO of the Prudential Authority, said new banking licenses will be granted to new entrants "within reason" and in a manner that will not threaten the stability of South Africa's banking industry, Bloomberg News reported.

* United Bank for Africa Gabon has launched Magic Banking, a mobile platform aimed at enabling its customers to carry out banking transactions anywhere in the country, without an internet connection or a smartphone, but rather by dialling a number, Gabonews reported.

* South African Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene has asked President Cyril Ramaphosa to relieve him of his duties after facing calls to resign following his admission of holding several undisclosed meetings with members of the controversial Gupta family, insiders told Business Day. A spokeswoman for Ramaphosa said the president was not aware of Nene's request, Reuters noted.

* Barclays Bank of Zimbabwe Ltd. has changed its name to First Capital Bank Ltd., effective Oct. 8, New Zimbabwe reported.

IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD

Asia-Pacific: IAG, AMMB seek bids for Malaysian insurer; BNP Paribas to cut SBI Life stake

Europe: Lloyds, Schroders in wealth tie-up talks; Monte dei Paschi selling Belgian unit

Latin America: Bolsonaro leads in 1st round of Brazil vote; World Bank cuts LatAm GDP forecast

North America: JPMorgan plans 400 job cuts; Citi to form new London bank post-Brexit

Global Insurance: Florida hurricane threat; Lancashire storm losses; Lloyd's Beale decries sexism

Erin Tanchico, Henni Abdelghani, Sophie Davies and Mariana Aldano contributed to this report.

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