GULF COOPERATION COUNCIL
* Issuance of bonds and sukuk in the GCC increased by $32 billion in the first quarter, boosting outstanding debt in the region to $478 billion, Trade Arabia wrote, citing a report by National Bank of Kuwait.
* Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Finance closed an issuance of 2.84 billion riyals of domestic Islamic bonds, or sukuk, in May under the government's riyal-denominated sukuk program.
* Qatar Stock Exchange CEO Rashid al-Mansoori said the bourse is developing two new exchange-traded funds — one focused on gold and another for sharia-compliant assets outside the country — in a bid to attract more foreign investment, Reuters reported. The bourse plans to launch the new ETFs over the next year.
* National Bank of Kuwait SAKP received regulatory approval to buy and sell no more than 10% of its shares for a period of six months.
* Ahli United Bank BSC received the Central Bank of Bahrain's approval to extend the validity period for the purchase of treasury shares of the bank for a further 90 days, effective from May 21.
* Higher capital adequacy requirements have dented Omani banks' profitability in the first quarter, leading to lackluster profits for the period, Thomson Reuters' Zaywa reported, citing an analyst.
* Meethaq Islamic Banking, Bank Muscat SAOG's Islamic window, received approval from Oman's Capital Market Authority to exercise a greenshoe option to increase the original offer size of Methaq Sukuk Series 2 from 25 million Omani rials to roughly 45.6 million rials, which is the total amount of the subscription received.
* Dubai-based NewBridge Fintech Solutions raised an undisclosed amount of funds from Abu Dhabi-based BRS Ventures Investment Ltd., Thomson Reuters' Zawya reported.
* Ahsan and Faaris Naqvi, sons of former Abraaj Group founder Arif Naqvi, were warned by U.K. authorities that their London-based company, Axil Advisers LLP, could be closed after it failed to file its accounts before March 31, The National reported. Axil acted as an agent for Abraaj Advisers UK, a business controlled by Arif Naqvi that went into liquidation as part of the group's insolvency.
REST OF MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA
* Israeli energy company Delek Group Ltd. signed a binding agreement with companies controlled by U.S. private equity firms Centerbridge Partners LP and Gallatin Point Capital LLC to sell a 32.5% stake in insurer Phoenix Holdings Ltd. for approximately 1.72 billion Israeli shekels. Under the terms of the deal, the buyers will acquire approximately 30% of the issued and paid-up share capital of Phoenix on closing, representing the controlling stake, for 20.6 shekels per share, or 1.6 billion shekels in the aggregate.
* As expected, the Central Bank of Egypt maintained the overnight deposit rate, overnight lending rate and the rate of the main operation at 15.75%, 16.75% and 16.25%, respectively, saying the move is consistent with achieving the 9% inflation target in the fourth quarter of 2020 and price stability over the medium term. The discount rate was also kept unchanged at 16.25%.
* A fund aimed at upgrading Egypt's interbank infrastructure is expected to be established under a new bill, Amwal Al Ghad reported, citing a statement by an Egyptian central bank official to Middle East News Agency.
* Fitch Ratings downgraded Arab Tunisian Bank's viability rating to "b-" from "b" and affirmed the Tunisia-based lender's long- and short-term foreign- and local-currency issuer default ratings at BB-/B, with a negative outlook on the long-term ratings, among other ratings actions.
EAST AND WEST AFRICA
* Shareholders of HF Group PLC approved a proposal to increase the Kenyan mortgage finance provider's share capital to 5.00 billion shillings from 2.50 billion shillings through the creation of an additional 500 million ordinary shares of 50 cents each.
* Nigeria's stock exchange said it received approval from the Securities and Exchange Commission for the introduction of several new rules and amendments of existing ones, including rules governing free float requirements.
* Nigerian lawmaker Nelson Koech has introduced a proposal in parliament seeking to repeal a law allowing lenders to share borrowers' information, The Kenyan Wall Street wrote.
* Ghana's finance ministry has released roughly 1 billion cedi earlier this month to assist with the cleanup of the country's microfinance and rural bank sectors, insiders told Joy Business.
CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN AFRICA
* The South African Reserve Bank kept the repurchase rate unchanged at 6.75%, although two of the five members of the central bank's monetary policy committee favored a reduction of 25 basis points.
* Cyril Ramaphosa has been elected unopposed as South Africa's president after his political party, the African National Congress, won the May 8 general election and the right to pick the country's president, Reuters reported. A new cabinet is expected to be named after Ramaphosa's inauguration on May 25, Bloomberg News noted.
* Capitec Bank Ltd.'s plan to acquire fellow South African lender Mercantile Bank Holdings Ltd. will add scale to Capitec's domestic business banking franchise, which in turn will anchor its competitive position while strengthening its earnings diversification and revenue stability, according to S&P Global Ratings.
* Moody's downgraded Zambia's long-term issuer ratings to Caa2 from Caa1 and revised the outlook to negative from stable, saying the downgrade reflects increasing external and liquidity pressures that raise the probability of default over the near term. The negative outlook, meanwhile, reflects the risk of material losses in case Zambia defaults, the rating agency noted.
* Former Public Investment Corp. Ltd. CEO Dan Matjila and two other executives of the South African state-owned investment fund are facing allegations that they facilitated an irregular payment of nearly 100 million rand to businessman Kholofelo Maponya, Moneyweb reported.
* BGFIBank Gabon SA has increased its share capital to 100 billion CFA francs from 75 billion CFA francs, becoming the first and only commercial bank in Central Africa to hold such a high level of capital, Agence Ecofin reported. Through the operation, the lender is strengthening its capacity to finance investments and support its clients in Gabon and the sub-region.
IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD
Asia-Pacific: Nomura Securities faces penalty; South Korean securities firm sells assets
Europe: Generali eyes MetLife assets; N26 told to boost AML controls; Deutsche in focus
Latin America: Brazil cuts 2019 growth forecast; Costa Rica lowers benchmark rate
North America: Wells Fargo, TD Bank hand over Trump's records; FDIC, payday lenders settle suit
Global Insurance: British Steel's disputed insurance claim; Scor in ILS M&A; Unum CFO retiring
Erin Tanchico, Henni Abdelghani, Sophie Davies and Mariana Aldano 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.