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Moody's keeps South Africa above junk; Capitec, Sanlam plan bancassurance JV

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Moody's keeps South Africa above junk; Capitec, Sanlam plan bancassurance JV

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

* Egyptians are set to begin voting today in a three-day presidential election, in which incumbent Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is facing sole challenger Moussa Mostafa Moussa, Reuters reported. Al-Sisi is widely expected to win a second term.

* The Central Bank of Bahrain dismissed reports earlier this month that it had cancelled Türkiye Halk Bankasi AS' license in Bahrain, saying the Turkish bank's branch in the country is operating normally.

* The Saudi Arabian Capital Market Authority approved Metlife - AIG - ANB Cooperative Insurance Co.'s request to reduce its capital to 180 million Saudi Arabian riyals from 350 million riyals.

* Al Sagr Cooperative Insurance Co. submitted to the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority a corrective plan regarding vacancies in leading positions at the insurer. The company last week named Shafiq bin Mansour al-Ramih CEO.

* BBK BSC launched BBK Lite, a retail franchise that will work under the Bahraini lender's retail banking license.

* S&P Global Ratings affirmed Jordan's B+/B long- and short-term foreign- and local-currency sovereign credit ratings, with a stable outlook.

* The central bank of Lebanon does not plan to increase interest rates this year despite the recent rate hike by the U.S. Federal Reserve, an insider told The Daily Star.

* The Tunisian central bank said the IMF approved the disbursement of a $257 million tranche from the country's four-year, $2.8 billion loan program, bringing the total disbursements thus far to $920 million, Reuters wrote.

* The Casablanca Stock Exchange is planning to become a holding company so it can start serving new markets, including derivatives and new instruments like futures and options, FinanceNews reported.

EAST AND WEST AFRICA

* S&P affirmed Kenya's B+/B long- and short-term sovereign credit ratings, with a stable outlook. The rating agency also affirmed Ghana's B-/B ratings and maintained the positive outlook on the long-term rating.

* Ghanaian Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta intends to visit Japan next month to discuss a potential Samurai bond issuance, which would mark Africa's first such bond since 2001, and finalize a bilateral investment treaty, Bloomberg News reported. Separately, Ghanaian lawmakers approved the government's plan to issue as much as $2.5 billion in eurobonds and sovereign debt, Joy Business noted.

* uniBank (Ghana) Ltd. is no longer seeking arbitration over the Bank of Ghana's takeover of the lender, Joy Business wrote.

* Guaranty Trust Bank Ghana Ltd. named Thomas Attah John managing director, effective March 16, Citi Business News reported. He replaces Lekan Sanusi, who was appointed managing director of Guaranty Trust Bank (Uganda) Ltd.

* United Bank for Africa Plc reported full-year 2017 group profit attributable to owners of the parent of 76.05 billion Nigerian naira, up from 69.40 billion naira a year ago. The board proposed a final dividend of 65 kobo per share for 2017, up from 55 kobo per share in 2016.

* The Nigerian government named Joseph Nnanna, a deputy governor for economic policies at the central bank, as board chairman of the Nigerian Export-Import Bank, Vanguard reported.

* A Sierra Leone court issued an interim injunction delaying the presidential election run-off set for tomorrow, saying there was a need to investigate allegations of electoral fraud before the poll goes ahead, Reuters reported.

* The Bank of Uganda warned in a report that the country's national debt has nearly tripled to $15.1 billion over the last three years, posing "a risk of higher exposure or failure to meet external debt obligations in case of exchange rate volatility and slow growth in exports," Reuters reported. The country's debt three years ago amounted to $6 billion.

* Britam Holdings Plc's board of directors recommended a dividend payment of 35 Kenyan cents for 2017, up from 30 cents in 2016.

CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN AFRICA

* Moody's confirmed South Africa's long-term issuer and senior unsecured ratings at Baa3, with a stable outlook, concluding a review for downgrade that began Nov. 24, 2017. The rating agency expects the previous weakening of South Africa's institutions to reverse under a more transparent and predictable policy framework. The Baa3 rating is the agency's lowest investment-grade level, Bloomberg noted.

* Capitec Bank Holdings Ltd. is expected to announce a bancassurance joint venture with South African insurer Sanlam Ltd. when it releases its 2017 results tomorrow, according to Moneyweb.

* Net 1 UEPS Technologies Inc. unit Cash Paymaster Services (Pty) Ltd. will battle a court order to repay 317 million South African rand, plus interest, to the South African Social Security Agency.

* Fitch Ratings said eight of 29 banks in Angola will most likely need to increase paid-in capital this year to comply with the central bank's latest minimum capital requirement of 7.5 billion Angolan kwanzas by 2018-end. The rating agency said the new capital requirement is still low by international standards and that it expects the banking sector to remain weak and fragmented for the foreseeable future.

* Fitch Ratings affirmed Mozambique's long-term foreign-currency issuer default rating at Restricted Default and local-currency rating at CC. The country's short-term ratings were affirmed at C.

* S&P affirmed the Republic of the Congo's CCC+/C long- and short-term foreign-currency sovereign credit ratings and B-/B local-currency ratings, with a stable outlook.

IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD

Asia-Pacific: China adds role at central bank; Mongolia cuts rates; CBA insurer lures buyers

Leo Magno, 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, a separately managed division of S&P Global. Descriptions in this news article were not prepared by S&P Global Ratings.