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MENA news through April 6


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MENA news through April 6


*Mohammed Al-Jadaan, chairman of the Saudi capital market regulator, said thegovernment seeks to expand the size of the Saudi Stock Exchange, or Tadawul,and has plans to increase the number of companies listed on the stockexchange's All Share Index to 250 from about 170 at present, Bloomberg News reported.The regulator is also looking at boosting derivatives trading and the debtmarket, Al-Jadaan said. Bloomberg conducted afive-hour interviewwith Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, which also covered IPOplans for oil giant Saudi Aramco, among other topics. Asked about the potentialpurchase by the Saudi Public Investment Fund of 'sstake in Saudi HollandiBank, Salman said the fund has "two opportunities outside ofSaudi Arabia being discussed at the moment," adding that he believes that"we will conclude at least one of them."

*Standard & Poor's Ratings Services took ratings actions on several Saudi lenders, includingdowngrading to BBB+ from A- the long-term counterparty credit ratings ofSamba FinancialGroup, Saudi BritishBank, NationalCommercial Bank, Riyad Bank and Al Rajhi Banking & Investment Corp.

*Bank of IsraelGovernor Karnit Flug defended an Israeli regulation capping bank executives'salaries by saying the rules were important for setting up salary norms in thefinancial sector, Bloomberg reported.Flug said she hopes that the new rules will not prompt early retirement of keybank employees, amid reports that some senior employees could quit ahead of thelaw's implementation to avoid having their retirement packages affected.

*Meanwhile, Bank HapoalimB.M. CEO Zion Kenan resigned after seven years in the role, Globes reported.He will step down within six months. COO and Deputy CEO Ari Pinto is reportedlyexpected to succeed Kenan.

*Bank Melli Iran Inc.seeks to recommence ties with major Russian lenders soon, including , , and , Sputnik News reported,citing Mohammad Hazzar, head of Russian branch .

*Meanwhile, the Financial Times wrotethat KBC Group NV andDZ Bank AG confirmed thatthey have begun processing transactions for European clients doing business inIran, while Erste Group BankAG said it is preparing to do the same. Larger European lendersremain more cautious, however, the publication added.

*Bank Muscat SAOGsaid it obtained therequired regulatory approvals to launch a representative office in Iran. Theoffice is expected to open later in 2016.

*The Qatar CentralBank issuedrules for the country's insurance sector to be implemented in April, includinga minimum capital requirement for listed insurers and a provision to setcapital requirements for unlisted insurers.

*The Central Bank ofOman saidinvestments in treasury bills, government development bonds and sukuk will becounted toward reserves against deposits for Omani lenders, up to a maximum of2% of deposits, effective April 1. The move is aimed at easing liquiditypressures on the country's lenders, while facilitating investments ingovernment debt and lending. The country's lenders are required to holdreserves equal to 5% of deposits at the central bank.

*Qatar National Bank SAQposted a first-quarternet profit of 2.9 billion Qatari riyals, up from 2.7 billion riyals in the samequarter a year ago. The bank also saidit selected Crédit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank, Société GénéraleCorporate & Investment Banking and ING Bank to arrange a three-year seniorunsecured loan facility worth €1.5 billion. Crédit Agricole and SocGen are alsoserving as book runners. The loan will be used for general corporate purposes.

*Commercial Bank of KuwaitK.P.S.C. CEO Elham Mahfouz said the lender expects improvedfirst-quarter results compared to the year-ago period, The National wrote.

*Barclays Plc CEO JesStaley said the lender still has enough presence to compete in the MiddleEastern market and will be active in helping firms in the region to raisecapital, although it will cut lending, accordingto Bloomberg. The bank has a staff of over 200 in the United Arab Emiratesfollowing a move to reduce headcount, and will continue to offer corporate andinvestment banking and wealth management services in the region, Staley added.

* HSBC Saudi Arabia Ltd., a joint venture of and SaudiBritish Bank, made provisions of 162 million Saudi Arabian riyals over the pasttwo years against penalties for breaching rules, Bloomberg News reported.The provisions were made following several probes carried out by the Saudicapital markets regulator and are also aimed at covering potential fines in thefuture.

*Oman International Development& Investment Co. SAOG, also called Ominvest, it along with Oman Investment Fundand Arab Bank Switzerland Ltd. signed a memorandum of understanding withOman Arab Bank SAOCto buy the latter's investment banking business, OABINVEST, subject tosatisfactory due diligence and regulatory approval. Oman Arab Bank is asubsidiary of Oman International Development and Investment Co.

* NationalBank of Kuwait S.A.K.P.'s board agreed to raise the lender's capital through a 6.5% rightsoffering, via the issuance of 343,960,000 shares at 400 Kuwaiti fils apiece,including a premium of 300 fils per share. Following the capital hike, which is subject toregulatory approval, thebank's paid-in capital will be about 563.6 million dinars.

*Bank of Sharjah PJSCplans to issue up to$1.5 billion, or the equivalent thereof, of senior unsecured bonds, subject toshareholder and regulatory approvals.

*Ahli Bank QSC setfinal price guidance at 260 basis points over midswaps for a five-year, $500million bond, Reuters reported,citing a document from lead arrangers.

* BBKBSC plansto issue perpetual Tier 1 convertible securities at a subscription price of 1Bahraini dinar each. The notes will carry an 8.25% annual interest rate. Thesubscription period started April 3 and will expire April 18.

* CommercialBank QSC will look to raise funds from the market by the end of thethird quarter, The Peninsula reported,citing the Qatari lender's CEO, Abdulla Saleh al-Raisi.

* CitigroupInc. named Michel Sawaya CEO of its Lebanese operations.Sawaya succeeds Elissar Farah Antonios, named CEO of the firm's UAE business inDecember 2015.

*Dhofar Insurance Co.SAOG shareholders elected Majid al Toqi chairman of the board ofdirectors, while electing two other members to the board. The term of the newboard members ends in 2019.

* said itappointed Mohammad Khan head of compliance, replacing Ibrahim al Maamari, whohas been serving as acting head of compliance.

*Emirates NBD BankPJSC unit EmiratesIslamic Bank PJSC reportedly plans to reduce headcount by 200, accordingto CPI Financial.

*Legal & General Gulf and unit Legal & General Gulf Takaful were renamedAl Hilal Life and Al Hilal Takaful, respectively, effective April 1, according to a statement on the former'swebsite. The name changes follow Ahli United Bank B.S.C.'s acquisition of 's 50%stake in the former joint venture.

* Bank Leumile-Israel B.M. set up a loan fund that will provide 1 billionIsraeli shekels in financing a year to small and medium-sized companies, Globesreported.The launch of the state-backed fund follows a tender award by the Israelifinance ministry to Bank Leumi and Menorah Mivtachim Holdings Ltd. to establish a new loanfund for at least four years.

*The Association of Banks in Lebanon rejected a report that Saudi Arabia hasblocked bank transfers to Lebanon amid a diplomatic spat between the twocountries, The National reported.


* Khalifa Ghweil, head of the Tripoli-based administrationthat is one of Libya's two governments, refused to accept a United Nations-backedplan for a new unity government, in contradiction to a statement publishedApril 5 by his party to back the new administration, Al Arabia reported.Ghweil reportedly threatened to prosecute any individual who cooperates withthe UN-backed plan.

* Egypt's FSA detailed measures regarding the issuance ofcovered bonds as part of initiatives to revive the market and diversify nonbankingfinancial instruments in the country, accordingto Gulf News. About 90% of bond deals in 2015 were by the government.

* EFG-HermesHolding SAE named Moustafael Chiati CEO of its UAE business, effective April 1, as part of expansionplans. El Chiati will move from his role in the lender's investment bankingdivision.

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