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MENA news through Oct. 17

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MENA news through Oct. 17

GULF COOPERATION COUNCIL

* Stocks in Saudi Arabia tumbled early this week amid investor worries of potential sanctions against the oil-rich country over the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a known critic of the country. Several international lenders and companies have also pulled out of an investment conference in Saudi Arabia scheduled for next week. Saudi Arabia has denied any involvement in the journalist's disappearance but said it would retaliate against any punitive measures, Bloomberg News reported.

* Saudi Investment Bank CEO Musaed al-Mineefi said a plan by J.P. Morgan International Inc. to sell its stake in the bank will be positive for the lender's existing shareholders, Argaam wrote.

* Qatar Islamic Bank QPSC reported third-quarter net profit attributable to equity holders of the bank of 680.0 million riyals, up from 610.1 million riyals a year earlier.

* Masraf Al Rayan QPSC posted third-quarter net profit attributable to equity holders of the bank of 566.0 million Qatari riyals, up from 542.0 million riyals a year ago.

* Doha Bank Q.P.S.C. booked a yearly drop in its third-quarter net profit to 737 million Qatari riyals from 1.05 billion riyals, mainly due to a significant loan loss provision in relation to the lender's overseas branches.

* Qatar National Bank QPSC and Qatar Islamic Bank raised a combined $1.3 billion in private bond offerings, insiders told Reuters.

* Qatar Islamic Insurance Co. QSC's shareholders approved the change of the company's name to Qatar Islamic Insurance Group.

* Emirates NBD Bank PJSC raised a $2 billion loan from a group of 18 banks in late September, Reuters reported, citing a representative for the lender.

* Kuwait-based logistics firm Agility Public Warehousing Co. KSCP partnered with an unnamed U.S. and U.K.-regulated financial fund investing firm to bid for part of Abraaj Group Ltd.'s fund management business Abraaj Investment Management, The National reported.

* At least $660 million of funds from Abraaj Group's investors were moved without their knowledge into accounts said to be regarded as the group's treasury, The Wall Street Journal wrote.

* Bank Muscat SAOG booked a preliminary net profit of 134.7 million Omani rials for the nine months ended Sept. 30, up 3.4% from 130.3 million rials a year earlier.

* Moody's said the potential merger of Oman Arab Bank SAOC and Alizz Islamic Bank SAOG will be credit positive for the former and will establish an Islamic banking entity with assets of around $7.6 billion, The National reported.

* Oman-based Financial Services Co. SAOG's board of directors will initiate merger discussions with the country's largest brokerage firm, Gulf Baader Capital Markets SAOC, to explore the prospect of creating a new entity that will offer stockbroking and investment advisory services.

* Kuwaiti banks have started implementing the IFRS 9 accounting standards on defaulted loans in line with a central bank recommendation, Al-Anba reported.

* Kuwait International Bank KSCP Chairman Mohammed Jarrah al-Sabah, who is also chairman of the Union of Arab Banks, said a major investment bank will be launched soon and will be owned jointly between Arab and Chinese entities, Al-Qabas reported.

* Kuwait-based First Takaful Insurance Co. KPSC received an acquisition offer for its 35% stake in Turkey-based Neova Sigorta.

* Bahrain will get $2 billion from neighboring Gulf nations before the end of 2018 as the first part of an aid package, insiders told Reuters.

* The Bahrain Association of Banks have set a committee that includes 35 members representing 24 banks and financial institutions operating in Bahrain, to review the impact of the implementation of the value-added tax on the country's banking system, Akhbar Al Khaleej reported.

REST OF MIDDLE EAST

* Tel Aviv Stock Exchange Ltd. will delay its IPO to 2019, CEO Ittai Ben-Zeev told Bloomberg TV.

* Bank Hapoalim BM said in accordance with a previous shareholders' agreement between the lender and IDB Development Co. Ltd., both companies reached an agreement for the latter to find buyers for the bank's entire 9.47% stake in Clal Insurance Enterprises Holdings Ltd. at a price of 62 shekels per share not later than Nov. 10.

* Israel's central bank is expected to focus more on asset prices under next Governor Amir Yaron, Reuters reported.

* The U.S. White House announced additional sanctions against Iranian banks and other companies, including the country's top steel manufacturer and a large zinc mining operation, as part of the Trump administration's wider campaign against Tehran.

NORTH AFRICA

* Egypt reached an agreement with the World Bank to receive a $3 billion loan, Al-Masry Al-Youm reported.

* The Egyptian central bank agreed to enter a new repurchase transaction with a consortium of international banks, including First Abu Dhabi Bank PJSC and HSBC Bank PLC, for a total amount of $3.8 billion, in a deal aimed at enhancing the regulator's liability management by extending the duration of its debt structure.

* Moroccan lender Banque Centrale Populaire is planning to purchase banks in at least four African countries, following the completion of its acquisition of French lender Groupe BPCE's Mauritius-based unit, Banque des Mascareignes Ltée, Bloomberg News reported. Co-CEO Kamal Mokdad said Banque Centrale Populaire aims to source 30% of its income from Africa in two years, from 18% in 2017.

* South Africa-based Sanlam Ltd. and Santam Ltd. completed their acquisition of the remaining 53.37% ownership of Morocco-based insurer Saham Finances SA.

* In a new study on the prospects of the Moroccan banking sector, Moody's predicted that the operating profits of Moroccan banks will grow over the next 12 to 18 months due to the diversification of the country's economy, Agence Ecofin wrote.

* Moody's revised its outlook on Tunisia's issuer ratings to negative from stable and affirmed the ratings at B2.

Henni Abdelghani and Sophie Davies contributed to this report.