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MENA news through Jan. 15


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MENA news through Jan. 15

* Switzerland-based Bank for International Settlements invited the central banks of Kuwait and Morocco to join the institution as it expands its membership for the first time since 2011, Bloomberg News reported.

* Tensions between the U.S. and Iran will likely drive insurers and reinsurers to renegotiate terms of cover and introduce endorsements and riders to policies to reflect increased risks of trading in the Middle East, Middle East Insurance Review said, citing Jonathan Moss, head of marine and trade at multinational law firm DWF.


* Qatar National Bank (QPSC) reported full-year 2019 profit attributable to equity holders of the bank of 14.35 billion Qatari riyals, up from 13.79 billion riyals a year earlier, but net impairments ticked higher.

* Qatar Islamic Bank QPSC reported net profit attributable to shareholders of 3.06 billion riyals for the year ended Dec. 31, 2019, up 11% from 2.76 billion riyals a year ago.

* Qatar Insurance Co. QSPC appointed Salem Khalaf al-Mannai as group CEO, the Gulf Times reported.

* Saudi Stock Exchange (Tadawul) plans to set up a new European hub in the U.K. to attract more institutional investors from abroad, sources told Financial News.

* Saudi Arabia-based Samba Financial Group's board of directors approved a recommendation to distribute 70 halalas, net of zakat, of cash dividends for the second half of 2019.

* Commercial Bank of Kuwait KPSC said a Saudi Arabian court has accepted its 415-million-riyal claim related to the collapse of Saad Group and A. H. Algosaibi & Bros. Co. — two Saudi-based family holding companies that defaulted on roughly $16 billion in 2009. Al Ahli Bank of Kuwait KSCP and Burgan Bank KPSC also released statements without disclosing the amount, while Gulf Bank KSCP said the disputed amount had been sold in 2019 to one of the investors and was written off from the bank's books. Meanwhile, Kuwait Finance House said the client is indebted to KFH with 3 million Kuwaiti dinars, and the bank has already allocated 100% provision for the debt in 2010, adding that it is following up with the bankruptcy trustee.

* United Arab Emirates-based lenders Emirates NBD Bank PJSC, Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank PJSC and Mashreqbank PSC are also exposed to the Saudi family holding companies, according to documents seen by Bloomberg News.

* UAE-based Shuaa Capital PSC's board of directors approved the sale of the company's market making businesses to Al Ramz Corp. Investment and Development PJSC and the wind down of unit Shuaa Capital International Ltd., subject to conditions and regulatory approvals.

* Oman-based Bank Muscat SAOG reported preliminary full-year 2019 net profit of 185.6 million rials, up 3.3% from 179.6 million rials a year earlier.

* Bahrain Bourse BSC (c) published its new listing rules, which aim to clarify the regulatory and organizational framework governing all operational aspects of the stock exchange, particularly future listings.

* Bahrain's central bank has set out instructions aimed at standardizing companies' financial statements and helping shareholders and investors make sound investment decisions, Gulf Digital News reported.

* The extraordinary general meeting of Al Aman Investment Company - KPSC approved the merger with The Securities House KSCP for a swap rate of 1.403 for every share of Al Aman Investment, with March 1 as the date for receiving the share.


* Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri said the country must cooperate with the World Bank, the IMF and other international institutions to address its economic crisis, while the Association of Banks in Lebanon condemned the delay in establishing a new government after local banks were vandalized, according to two separate Reuters reports.

* The Lebanese central bank is seeking "exceptional powers" from the country's finance ministry to regulate and standardize restrictions imposed by local commercial banks on depositors, Reuters reported.

* Bank Audi SAL CFO Tamer Ghazaleh told Reuters the Lebanon-based lender has received interest from lenders to acquire its Egyptian unit, Bank Audi (SAE), and could sell the unit if it gets the right offer. However, the Egyptian central bank said it has not received a request by Bank Audi to sell the subsidiary, Reuters reported. Meanwhile, Ghazaleh said Bank Audi will call a shareholder meeting in February to vote on its plan to increase equity.

* Blom Bank SAL's shareholders approved the terms and conditions of a 10% increase in the Lebanese lender's common equity Tier 1 capital, an amount equivalent to $261.94 million, which will be carried out through cash contributions to capital.

* The Israeli central bank maintained its interest rate at 0.25%. Governor Amir Yaron said the central bank is prepared to purchase foreign currency needed to prevent the appreciation of the shekel, Globes reported.

* The U.S. government has warned Iraq that it could lose access to a critical central bank account held at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York if it pushes out American troops, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing Iraqi officials.


* Egypt's Financial Supervisory Authority amended regulations related to listing and delisting of companies from the local stock exchange, Al-Masry Al-Youm reported.

* Misr Insurance Holding Co. partnered with Banque Misr (SAE) and National Bank of Egypt (SAE) to launch a new takaful insurance company, Zawya reported.

* Beltone Financial Holding SAE CEO Ibrahim Karam said the Egyptian company is looking to expand to Gulf and African countries in 2020, Reuters reported.

* Morocco-based Banque Marocaine pour le Commerce et l'Industrie appointed Philippe Dumel as chairman, Financial Afrik reported.

* Banque de Tunisie et des Emirats SA raised more than 33 million Tunisian dinars in a recent bond issue, according to Il Boursa.

Abdelghani Henni and Pádraig Belton contributed to this report.

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