* Investment firm Atlas Mara Ltd. signed three strategic business agreements with Mastercard Inc. that will, among other things, enable Atlas Mara's operating banks in Africa to use the Mastercard's digital payment platforms. Atlas Mara said the partnership will "pave the way for up to 20 million consumers and 100,000 merchants across Africa to be digitally and financially included in the formal financial sector by 2020."
MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA
* Banque du Caire SAE filed a formal request to list its shares on the Egyptian stock exchange in the first half, Reuters reports. Insiders tell the newswire that the state-owned lender will list on the stock market next week and launch an IPO by the first half, potentially becoming the biggest stock offering in the country since 2010.
* Commercial International Bank (Egypt) SAE proposed a cash dividend of 50 Egyptian piastres per share for 2016, down from 75 piastres in the previous year, as it booked a 325 million pound decline in the value of its assets and commitments in foreign exchange in the wake of the pound's flotation, Reuters writes. The bank, which reported a year-over-year rise in 2016 net profit attributable to shareholders to 6.01 billion pounds from 4.73 billion pounds, also intends to issue a Tier 2 capital loan of up to $300 million.
* EFG-Hermes Holding SAE said it was named one of six Middle Eastern and North African constituents in the FTSE4GOOD Emerging Index. The index measures the performance of emerging market companies in more than 20 countries with strong environmental, social and governance practices.
* The Central Bank of Egypt raised $4 billion from its eurobond sale last week, Reuters reports, citing Governor Tarek Amer.
* Credit facilities granted by Egyptian banks to clients rose by approximately 38.4 billion pounds during the third quarter of 2016 to reach 981.2 billion pounds, Daily News Egypt reports, citing data from the Central Bank of Egypt.
* Bank of America Merrill Lynch expects Argentina, Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia to become the largest gross and net debt issuers in 2017, with all four countries potentially accounting for 37% of the total gross issuance of sovereign debt, The Peninsula reports. BofA Merrill Lynch said the bulk of sovereign issuances in 2017 is expected to come from the Gulf Cooperation Council, where issuance has been rapidly increasing as countries act to address the impact of low oil prices.
* National Bank of Abu Dhabi PJSC said it became the first bank in the Middle East to introduce real-time cross border payments using blockchain technology through a partnership with U.S. startup Ripple.
* Dubai Islamic Bank (PJSC) mandated banks including Bank ABC and Boubyan Bank to advise on a potential benchmark-sized U.S. dollar Islamic bond sale, insiders tell Reuters. The sukuk will likely have a five-year maturity.
* Bank al Etihad's board approved a plan to increase the lender's capital to 160 million Jordanian dinars from 125 million dinars, Reuters writes.
* The Central Bank of Kuwait's board of directors approved the opening of Saudi Arabia-based Al Rajhi Banking & Investment Corp.'s second branch in Kuwait.
* Dhofar Insurance Co. (SAOG) COO Ewen McRobbie has resigned, effective Jan. 30. He took up the role in September 2016.
* The Iranian government will cease using the U.S. dollar in its official statements or financial reports in the wake of U.S. President Donald Trump's travel ban on Iran and six other countries, The Independent writes. Central Bank of Iran Governor Valiollah Seif said the initiative will take effect at the start of the new fiscal year in March, adding that the government plans to either introduce a new currency or use a portfolio of various currencies, Sputnik News reports.
* The Bank of Israel intervened in the foreign exchange market for a second straight day yesterday to help weaken the shekel, Reuters reports. The central bank is estimated to have bought at least $400 million yesterday and $200 million Tuesday, Globes writes.
* The Moroccan government is looking into issuing about $1 billion in international bonds in 2017, Reuters writes.
EAST AND WEST AFRICA
* Nigerian Finance Minister Kemi Adeosun said the country is seeking to apply for a $1 billion loan from the World Bank to help support the government's spending plans, Bloomberg News reports. The country is also likely to launch its planned $1 billion eurobond sale this week, Reuters writes.
* Ghanaian Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta said the country's new government inherited a budget deficit that was "closer to double digits" as a percentage of GDP than the previous administration's 2016 target of 5%, Reuters reports. Ofori-Atta attributed the overrun to "unchecked overspending" and lower revenues.
CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN AFRICA
* Moody's said political tensions, which hamper the implementation of key structural reforms in South Africa, and weak economic growth pose the biggest challenge to the country's sovereign credit rating, Reuters writes. The agency currently rates South Africa two notches above junk status, with a negative outlook.
* Rene van Wyk was appointed an independent nonexecutive director on the boards of Barclays Africa Group Ltd. and Absa Bank Ltd. Van Wyk previously served as registrar of banks and head of banking supervision at the South African Reserve Bank.
* The South African Social Security Agency will seek the Constitutional Court's permission to extend the government's contract with Net 1 UEPS Technologies Inc. unit Cash Paymaster Services for the distribution of welfare payments, Bloomberg News reports. The contract, which is due to expire by March-end, was ruled as invalid by the top court.
* Sasfin Bank Ltd. teamed up with cloud accounting software provider Xero to provide direct bank feeds to South African small and medium-sized enterprises.
* Moçambique Capitais, the majority stakeholder in Moza Banco SA, is looking for cash injections from shareholders to fund its share of the bank's 8 billion metical recapitalization and thereby retain control, according to Zitamar News. Moza Banco must be able to raise the amount by March 23 to avoid being put up for sale by the Banco de Moçambique.
* Mozambique approached the Paris Club, which aims to find solutions to payment difficulties of troubled debtor countries, as part of efforts to restructure the country's foreign debt, Correio da Manhã writes.
* The Mauritian government nominated Vassoo Putchay as chairman of the Development Bank of Mauritius, less than 24 hours after Chand Bhadain stepped down from the post, L'Express writes.
IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD
Asia-Pacific: US Fed officials hold target rate; KB Kookmin eyes stake sale in Kazakh bank
Europe: BBVA, Julius Bär post FY'16 results; ECB happy with UniCredit plan
Latin America: XP Investimentos plans $1B IPO; BNDES lending hits 9-year low
North America: Wells blocked from paying severance packages to laid-off employees
North America Insurance: Warren questions decision to end ACA ads; Cigna weighing Anthem deal options
Leo Magno, Sarah Raslan, Sophie Davies and Mariana Aldano contributed to this report.
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