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MENA news through July 20

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MENA news through July 20

MIDDLE EAST

* SaudiArabia tapped Bank of China Ltd., BNP Paribas SA, Deutsche Bank AG, GoldmanSachs Group Inc., Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc. and Morgan Stanley toarrange the kingdom's first international bond sale, targeted at plugging abudget hole caused by the oil price slump, Bloomberg News reported.       

* Meanwhile, Iranian Economy Minister Ali Tayebnia said thecountry is planning to return to international bond markets after a 14-yearhiatus to help finance its economic recovery, Bloomberg News reported. Tayebnia said Iran is in talks with all ratingagencies and that he expects the country to secure a credit rating in the nearfuture, potentially attracting bond investors.

* Moody's maintained the stable outlook for Qatar's bankingsystem, reflecting expectations that current operating conditions will remainfavorable for banks owing to high government spending amid the oil price slump.

* Qatar'sruling Al Thani family raised its stake in Deutsche Bank AG to approximately 10% through two of itsinvestment vehicles, making the family the largest shareholder in the Germanbank, Argaam reported.Paramount Services Holdings and Supreme Universal Holdings, acting onbehalf of the royal family, raised their stakes in Deutsche Bank to just under5% each.

* OrientInsurance PJSC President Omer Hassan Elamin said his companyis discussing the possibility of setting up a new insurance company in a jointventure with Union NationalBank - PJSC, Al-Khaleej reported.

* Oman Investment & Finance Co. SAOG said wholly owned subsidiary Wasel Exchange SAOC hasdecided not to proceed with the proposed acquisition of Musandam Exchange, asan agreement could not be reached with the seller.

*Commercial Bank (QSC)will acquireAnadolu Endüstri HoldingAS' 25% stake in Turkey-based Alternatifbank AS, paving the way for the Qatari lenderto become the sole shareholder in Alternatifbank. Separately, Commercial Bank reported second-quarter net profit of 208 millionrials, down 65% from a year ago.

*Qatar Islamic Bank(SAQ) postedfirst-half net attributable profit of 1.06 billion rials, up 18% from a yearago.

*National CommercialBank reported a year-over-year increase in second-quarter net profit to 2.44 billionriyals from 2.36 billion riyals. First-half net profit amounted to 5.07 billionriyals, up from 4.97 billion riyals earned a year ago.

*Al Rajhi Banking & InvestmentCorp. posted second-quarter net profit of 2.05 billionriyals, up from 1.94 billion riyals a year ago. 's net profit forthe second quarter declined on a yearly basis to 1.31 billion riyals from1.33 billion riyals.

*Riyad Bank reported net profit of 1.15 billion riyals for thesecond quarter, up year over year from 1.13 billion riyals. 's second-quarter net profit was 1.15 billion riyals, comparedto the year-ago 1.14 billion riyals.

*Emirates NBD BankPJSC booked second-quarter profit attributable to equity holders of the group of1.91 billion dirhams, compared to 1.65 billion dirhams a year ago. The bank'snet impairment loss on financial assets declined to 626.2 million dirhams from900.8 million dirhams.

*Abu Dhabi Commercial BankPJSC reportedsecond-quarter net profit attributable to shareholders of 1.13 billion dirhams,down year over year from 1.28 billion dirhams. Mashreqbank PSC's income for the period droppedto 539 million dirhams from the year-ago 643 million dirhams.

*National Bank of KuwaitSAKP reported a 7.2% year-over-year increasein second-quarter profit to 71.7 million dinars.

* The Islamic Revolution Guards Corps arrestedformer Bank Mellat (PublicJS) Managing Director Ali Rastegar Sorkhe'i and his deputy forinternational affairs over their alleged participation in an organized bankingscam, according to PressTV.

*Qatar Insurance Co.SAQ unit QatarReinsurance Co. Ltd. promoted Steve Tidd to COO from head of operations.Qatar Re also named Andrew Smith chief risk officer and Adam Young head ofcompliance.

*Bank Leumi le-IsraelBM stopped accepting employee applications for its voluntaryretirement program after about 400 to 500 employees signed up less than twomonths after the program was announced, Globeswrote,noting that the bank has filled its quota.

*Meanwhile, Amir Hessel resigned as deputy CEO and head of investment atHarel Insurance Investments &Financial Services Ltd., effective in October. Hessel cited a newIsraeli law capping compensation of executives in the financial sector as thereason for his move. The Israeli Supreme Court issued last week an interiminjunction againstthe government's plan to cap compensations.

* Yemeni central bank Governor Mohammed bin Hammam said asecond phase of bank fund transfers abroad is expected to take place shortly,Reuters wrote.The funds would help ease a crisis that has prevented the import of new foodstocks due to an ongoing civil war.

NORTH AFRICA

* Egyptiancentral bank Governor Tarek Amer said it is not currently possible to discuss aflotation of the Egyptian pound but noted that "a devaluation depends onwhat the [central] bank sees at the appropriate time," Reuters wrote,citing news agency MENA. The central bank devalued the currency in March bynearly 14% to approximately 8.78 pounds to the U.S. dollar.

*Barclays Plc formallybegan the process to sell unit Barclays Bank Egypt (SAE), Reuters reported. Emirates NBD and are said to beamong those interested in acquiring the Egyptian bank.

* EmiratesNBD unit Emirates NBDSAE said it will not suspend the use of its cards overseas,correcting an earlier notice to clients that cards will be disabled for useabroad from July 24, accordingto Reuters.

* Moroccohas asked to rejoin the African Union after leaving the organization in 1984,BBC News said. The country left the AU after theorganization recognized the independence of Western Sahara, which Morocco seesas its southern provinces.  

Henni Abdelghani and Sophie Davies contributedto this report.