GULF COOPERATION COUNCIL
* U.S.-based stock market index provider MSCI Inc.'s decision on whether to upgrade Saudi Arabia and the country's stock exchange to emerging market status from its current stand-alone status will be announced tomorrow, Reuters reported. An upgrade is expected to help Saudi Arabia draw roughly $10 billion in passive fund flows.
* Invesco has launched the first Saudi Arabia exchange-traded fund in Europe, the Financial Times reported. The Invesco MSCI Saudi Arabia UCITS ETF will be available on the London Stock Exchange.
* Franklin Templeton said its funds have received qualified foreign investor status in Saudi Arabia, allowing the U.S. fund manager to invest directly in the Middle Eastern nation's stock market, Reuters wrote.
* Emirates NBD Bank PJSC unit Emirates Islamic Bank PJSC appointed Salah Amin CEO. Amin replaces Jamal Bin Ghalaita, who is retiring from the Emirates NBD group.
* The United Arab Emirates' insurance sector is set to score a compound growth of 12.1% during the period from 2016 to 2021, Al Bayan reported.
REST OF MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA
* Morocco's Banque Centrale Populaire will seek to acquire African banks held by France's Groupe BPCE, which in December 2017 announced it would withdraw from the African continent, Jeune Afrique said. BCP CEO Mohamed Benchaaboun hopes to catch up with his bank's Moroccan competitors.
* Egyptian Finance Minister Mohamed Ma'it said the country expects to receive the fourth tranche, worth $2 billion, of its $12 billion IMF loan package next month, Egypt Today reported.
EAST AND WEST AFRICA
* Jude Njomo, the Kenyan lawmaker who proposed the law capping interest rates on commercial lenders, told Reuters he is "pretty sure" Finance Minister Henry Rotich's recent proposal to remove the cap will not "sail through" in parliament.
* Equity Bank (Kenya) Ltd. plans to increase its branches in Kenya to 20 from 16 by 2020, The Citizen reported.
* Safaricom Ltd. CFO Sateesh Kamath said the Kenya-based telecommunications firm is opposed to Kenyan Finance Minister Henry Rotich's proposed tax increase on mobile phone-based cash transfers, Reuters reported, noting that the move will negatively affect mobile-led transfer services and payments.
* Ethiopia appointed Yinager Dessie governor of the country's central bank, replacing Teklewold Atnafu, Reuters reported, citing local state-affiliated media Fana Broadcasting Corp.
* Audit firm KPMG, which was appointed by Ghana's central bank as uniBank (Ghana) Ltd.'s administrator, said it has received proposals from several private investors expressing interest to take over the Ghanaian lender's operations, Joy Business wrote.
* Visa Inc. named Salma Ingabire as its representative in Rwanda, The New Times wrote. Ingabire succeeds Lucy Mbabazi, who was previously the global payments technology firm's representative in Rwanda, Burundi and Malawi.
* Stanbic Bank signed a memorandum of understanding with Singapore-based financial technology firm CCRManager Pte. Ltd. as part of the Standard Bank Group Ltd. unit's efforts to digitize its trade finance operations, The Star reported.
CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN AFRICA
* Mozambique's central bank reduced its key lending rate by 75 basis points to 15.75% and the standing deposit facility by 50 basis points to 12.00%. The standing lending facility, meanwhile, was kept unchanged at 18.0%.
* Capitec Bank Holdings Ltd. said it has made a nonbinding offer to purchase South African peer Mercantile Bank Holdings Ltd. Among Mercantile Bank's other shortlisted potential buyers are Old Mutual PLC unit Nedbank Group Ltd. and a consortium led by South African state pension fund Public Investment Corp., according to Reuters.
* The Information Regulator of South Africa had asked to meet with Liberty Holdings Ltd. CEO David Munro to get more information regarding the recent data breach suffered by the insurer, Reuters wrote. Liberty previously said it rejected the extortion attempt by a hacker following the breach.
* Namibian central bank Governor Iipumbu Shiimi has called on local lenders to list on the country's stock exchange to comply with the Namibian Financial Sector Charter, according to APA News. Under the charter, financial firms have until 2019 to list their shares on the Namibian Stock Exchange.
* Banco Sol SA is expected to be the next Angolan financial institution to establish a branch in Portugal, Economia Online reported. With assets valued at €1.80 billion, Sol is the fifth-largest Angolan bank, with 250 branches and 16 business centers throughout the country.
IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD
Asia-Pacific: Tokio Marine unit in Thai insurance M&A; Latitude Financial IPO moves forward
Europe: CYBG, Virgin Money announce £1.7B tie-up; Allianz considers large-scale M&A deal
Latin America: Duque wins Colombia presidential race; Bci-TotalBank deal completed
North America: BOK to buy CoBiz Financial; Citibank to settle LIBOR complaint for $100M
Sheryl Obejera, Henni Abdelghani, Pádraig Belton and Mariana Aldano contributed to this report.
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