MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA
* Aside from the central banks of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Kuwait, those of the UAE and Qatar also raised rates following the U.S. Federal Reserve's decision to raise its own key interest rate. The UAE central bank raised interest rates applied to its certificates of deposits in line with the Fed's 25-basis point rate hike decision, while the Qatar Central Bank raised by 25 basis points the QMR lending rate and deposit rate to 4.75% and 1%, respectively.
* Meanwhile, economists warned that rising interest rates threaten to significantly diminish economic growth across the Gulf next year, The National reports.
* Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair, chairman of the UAE Banks Federation and Mashreqbank PSC CEO, said banks in the country are open to mergers in the near term and noted that new deals involving Dubai banks cannot be ruled out, Reuters reports, citing Al-Bayan.
* The Islamic Financial Services Board Council appointed Iranian central bank Governor Valiollah Seif chairman, effective Jan. 1, 2017, replacing Egyptian central bank Governor Tarek Amer.
* The reform committee of the Israeli legislature made changes to the country's banking reform bill, which would force big banks to spin off their credit card companies, before advancing it to second and third readings despite objections by the central bank, Haaretz reports. Bank of Israel Governor Karnit Flug recently told the Knesset that some changes "will almost certainly cause more damage" to the banking sector than benefit. The Jerusalem Post also covers.
* Andrew Abir, head of the Israeli central bank's market operations department, said the shekel is too robust at a time when Israeli exports grow more slowly than global trade, Bloomberg News reports.
* Jamal Lemridi will step down as CEO of Crédit du Maroc SA at 2016-end, L'Economiste reports.
* Attijariwafa Bank SA, through subsidiary Asca Asset Management, is launching two investment management vehicles, Financial Afrik reports. FCP ASCA LIQUIDITES will focus on short-term investments, while FCP ASCA PATRIMOINE will handle medium- and long-term investments.
EAST AND WEST AFRICA
* Opportunity International and its affiliates in Canada and Germany completed a share purchase agreement to sell its 50% stake in Rwandan microfinance bank Urwego Opportunity Bank to HOPE International. The transaction, which leads to HOPE International owning 99% of Urwego Opportunity Bank, has received approval from the Rwandan central bank.
* Kossi Ténou, national director of the Banque Centrale des Etats de l'Afrique de l'Ouest in Togo, said there is still reason to be concerned about the solvency of west African banks, in terms of deteriorating capital and the quality of risks.
* Analysts at Standard Bank Group Ltd. expect the Kenyan government and local lenders to be the largest drivers of the country's debt market next year, Business Daily Africa reports.
CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN AFRICA
* The South African Reserve Bank imposed fines of 2 million rand on Société Générale SA's Johannesburg branch and 10 million rand on Barclays Plc unit Absa Bank Ltd. for weaknesses in their control measures against money laundering and the financing of terrorism. The two banks are cooperating with the central bank and have taken measures to address their control weaknesses.
* Standard Bank filed an affidavit in the High Court in Pretoria, South Africa, asking for protection from political interference by the government, according to Business Day. The bank reportedly asked the court for a ruling that no member of the country's Cabinet may interfere in banking relationships, amid controversy surrounding South African banks' decision to cut ties with businesses owned by the controversial Gupta family.
* Rand Merchant Investment Holdings Ltd. will acquire a 29.9% stake in U.K.-based Hastings Group Holdings Plc. The South African group will pay between 248 pence and 255 pence per share for the stake, representing an aggregate cash consideration of between £487.3 million and £499.5 million.
* Sanlam Ltd. appointed Johan van Zyl chairman-elect. Zyl will take over in June 2017 from Desmond Smith, who is retiring.
* China-based Bank of Communications Co. Ltd. received board approval for its plans to set up a branch in Johannesburg.
* Banco de Poupança e Crédito SA will resume credit concession in the first half of 2017, Jornal de Angola reports.
* Angola's Banco Postal signed a deal with the country's postal service to formalize the creation of Postransfer, a service that will allow international money transfers and payments for products and services through the post office, Angop writes.
IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD
Asia-Pacific: Indonesia keeps key rates; Taiwan's First Commercial to open Manila branch
Europe: Banks' MREL funding need estimates cut; more calls for transitional Brexit deal
Latin America: Brazil credit bureau approval under fire; Argentina takes Mercosur presidency
North America: Chinese-led group's takeover of Chicago Stock Exchange gets US committee's nod
North America Insurance: Prudential Financial probe to go multistate; insured losses hit $49B in 2016
Leo Magno, Sarah Raslan, Sophie Davies and Mariana Aldano contributed to this report.
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