U.K.-based European Bank for Reconstruction and Development appointed Heike Harmgart managing director for southern and eastern Mediterranean, or SEMED, region, replacing Janet Heckman, effective Jan. 1, 2020. The company's SEMED region includes Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco and Tunisia, as well as the West Bank and Gaza.
GULF COOPERATION COUNCIL
* Banks in the Gulf Cooperation Council are expected to complete in early 2020 an upgrade of systems related to money transfer to allow direct remittance without the need of intermediate banks, Emarat Al Youm reported. The United Arab Emirates' central bank reportedly expects Gulf Payments Co. to complete requirements by the second quarter of 2020, while some GCC countries will start the process on Feb. 27, 2020.
* Fitch Ratings affirmed the A+ long-term issuer default rating of UAE-based HSBC Bank Middle East Ltd. and removed it from Rating Watch Negative, following a similar action on parent HSBC Holdings PLC.
* Dubai's Financial Markets Tribunal upheld the Dubai Financial Services Authority's decision to fine Anna Waterhouse, the former head of compliance for the Dubai International Financial Centre branch of Germany's Deutsche Bank AG, and block her from providing financial services in the DIFC, Gulf News reported.
* First Abu Dhabi Bank PJSC's head of global markets, Mahmood al-Aradi, is leaving the company for personal reasons, Reuters reported, citing two sources familiar with the matter.
* A consultancy committee of the UAE's Securities and Commodities Authority recommended the establishment of a unified clearance company to manage operations on Dubai and Abu Dhabi markets instead of two separate companies, Emarat Al Youm reported.
* The CEO of the UAE's Securities and Commodities Authority, Obaid al-Zaabi, said local stock markets are set to meet the requirements for an upgrade to advanced markets in 2020, Al-Ittihad reported.
* Kuwait picked Mariam Al-Aqeel as finance minister in the newly appointed Prime Minister Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah's cabinet, Kuwait News Agency reported.
* U.S. index compiler MSCI Inc. said it will upgrade the MSCI Kuwait indexes to emerging markets status as part of its May 2020 semiannual index review after the Kuwaiti equity market succeeded in meeting necessary requirements. Kuwaiti Trade and Industry Minister Khaled al-Roudhan said the move could generate inflows of 1 billion dinars, Reuters said.
* Kuwait's Capital Market Authority issued disciplinary actions against Alsafat Investment Co. for appointing Hussain Mahmoud Gaguish as internal auditing manager without obtaining the recommendation of the company's internal audit committee.
REST OF MIDDLE EAST
* Ukraine-based JSC CB PrivatBank launched new proceedings at the District Court of Tel Aviv in Israel to obtain compensation for losses incurred under previous owners, with the value of the claim amounting to $600 million. Privatbank accused previous owners Ihor Kolomoisky and Gennadiy Bogolyubov of conducting fraudulent, cross-border transactions that allegedly resulted in the transfer of funds from the lender to Israel Discount Bank Ltd., which is also a party in the legal proceedings, Globes wrote.
* Israel-based cryptocurrency company INX Ltd. informed the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that it intends to launch a roadshow in January 2020 through which it would seek investors' participation in its digital currency known as INX Security Token, Globes reported. INX reportedly plans to sell 130 million INX Security Tokens at a price between 65 cents and $1.15 per token. The company could raise between $84 million and $150 million, depending on the offering's success.
* Lebanese President Michel Aoun named former education chief Hassan Diab as the country's new prime minister, Reuters reported.
* Association of Banks in Lebanon Chairman Salim Sfeir dismissed as "completely false" rumors circulating in social media that local lenders will close after the Christmas holiday and that they have run out of foreign currency, The Daily Star wrote.
* S&P Global Ratings affirmed Lebanon's sovereign credit ratings at CCC/C, with a negative outlook, citing timely debt repayments by the government despite significant funding pressures and the central bank's imposition of foreign-exchange restrictions.
* Capital Intelligence Ratings affirmed the long- and short-term foreign currency ratings of Arab Banking Corp. (Jordan) at B+/B. The agency also affirmed the company's "b+" bank stand-alone rating, "bb+" core financial strength rating and High extraordinary support level. The outlooks on the long-term foreign currency rating and bank stand-alone rating are stable.
* State-owned Export Guarantee Fund of Iran is set to increase its capital by €100 million in the March 2020-2021 budget, according to the Financial Tribune.
* The Iraqi parliament approved a new electoral law, which will allow voters to elect individual lawmakers and have each parliamentarian represent a specific electoral district, Reuters reported. The law comes as a political deadlock holds up the selection of an interim prime minister, the newswire added.
* Egypt-based EFG-Hermes Holding SAE and GB Auto SAE will acquire a 75% stake in Tokio Marine Egypt Family Takaful Co. for 84.75 million Egyptian pounds. Tokio Marine Egypt Family Takaful is the Egyptian unit of Japan-based Tokio Marine Holdings Inc.
* The Egyptian central bank postponed its monetary policy meeting to Jan. 16, 2020, pending the approval of the formation of board of directors and the monetary policy committee for the new term, Reuters reported.
* Protesters in Algeria rejected the recent election of President Abdelmadjid Tebboune as illegitimate, Reuters reported. Meanwhile, Tebboune named Sabri Boukadoum interim prime minister, the newswire said.
* Morocco's central bank revealed that the country's net international reserves increased by 7.1% in recent weeks, reflecting an overall improvement in the country's fiscal and monetary outlook compared to the same period a year earlier, Morocco World News reported.
Henni Abdelghani contributed to this report.
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.