* Affirma Capital, the Singapore-based private equity firm spun off from Standard Chartered PLC, intends to carry out one acquisition of between $25 million and $100 million in the Middle East and Africa next year, its founding partner Taimoor Labib told Bloomberg News. The firm is particularly eyeing Egypt, Nigeria and Jordan, with plans to exit one of its investments in the region over the same period.
* China Everbright Bank Co. Ltd. has blacklisted Zimbabwe and 10 other African states — including Sudan, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo — from its activities, according to a document obtained by New Zimbabwe. The list is part of a document that informs of the Chinese state-controlled lender's plan to withdraw from doing business with Western financial institutions.
GULF COOPERATION COUNCIL
* U.S.-based index provider MSCI Inc. said the second and final phase of Saudi Arabia's inclusion into the MSCI Emerging Markets index will be carried out depending on Aug. 27 closing prices, Argaam noted.
* Saudi Re for Cooperative Reinsurance Co. CEO Fahad al-Hesni said mergers and acquisitions are essential to the firm's international growth strategy, Argaam reported, citing an interview with Alarabiya TV.
* A court in the United Arab Emirates sentenced Arif Naqvi, the founder of collapsed private equity firm The Abraaj Group, to three years in prison over a case involving low-cost carrier Air Arabia PJSC, insiders told Bloomberg. It remains unclear when the sentence would be served since Naqvi is still in London pending a hearing on his possible extradition to the U.S.
REST OF MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA
* A rate cut by the Egyptian central bank could be imminent as inflation reaches its lowest in four years and consumer prices continuing to rise, Bloomberg noted.
* Fawry Banking & Payment Technology Services' shares began trading on the Egyptian bourse yesterday following its oversubscribed IPO of 36.0% of its share capital. Through the float, U.K. private equity firm Helios Investment Partners LLP reduced its interest in Fawry.
* Iran's economy ministry agreed to exempt the capital market from capital gains tax, Financial Tribune reported, citing IRNA. The tax is implemented to reduce capital gain in unproductive markets.
EAST AND WEST AFRICA
* Kenya's Treasury will rescue Consolidated Bank of Kenya Ltd. and help it meet payment obligations to debts totaling 1.6 billion shillings due last month, Business Daily Africa reported. The bailout will be made in line with the lender's plan to extend the debt repayment period by three more months.
* KCB Group PLC's proposed takeover of National Bank of Kenya Ltd. would depend on the approval of the latter's shareholders, Kenya's Capital Markets Authority told Reuters. The regulator was responding to a recommendation by lawmakers that the state, NBK's main shareholder, reject KCB's bid. Meanwhile, acting Finance Minister Ukur Yatani told Bloomberg that KCB's offer is the best option for NBK given its ailing condition.
* Stanbic Bank Kenya Ltd. CEO Charles Mudiwa said the firm's planned job cuts were necessary to make the bank efficient as it turns to digitization, Daily Nation wrote. Mudiwa added that the voluntary early retirement process is ongoing but that there is no definite number of employees being targeted.
* Ethio Lease, an equipment leasing firm controlled by U.S.-based Africa Asset Finance Company, has clinched a financial services license from the Ethiopian central bank, becoming the first foreign-owned company to receive such license, Reuters reported. The country has been seeking to attract more foreign investors in recent years amid foreign exchange shortages.
* The Nigerian Stock Exchange lifted the trading suspension it imposed on Universal Insurance Plc after the firm submitted its outstanding audited and interim financial statements, The Punch noted.
* Moody's assigned Togo-based Oragroup SA first-time long- and short-term local- and foreign-currency issuer ratings of Caa1/Not Prime, with a positive outlook on the long-term rating. The agency also assigned the bank holding company "b3" baseline and adjusted baseline credit assessments.
CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN AFRICA
* South Africa-based Standard Bank Group Ltd. reported first-half headline earnings of 13.36 billion rand, up from 12.66 billion rand a year ago. First-half unaudited profit attributable to ordinary shareholders rose year over year to 13.20 billion rand from 12.71 billion. CEO Sim Tshabalala said the group is now well-positioned to enter new markets, particularly in West Africa, potentially through acquisitions, Reuters reported.
* Separately, Standard Bank said it will exercise its put option to sell its remaining 20% interest in Industrial & Commercial Bank of China (Argentina) SA for a fixed strike price of $180.751 million and use the proceeds to reinvest in Africa. The deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter or in the first quarter of 2020. Standard Bank had disposed its controlling stake in the Argentine lender in November 2012.
* During Investec Group's annual general meeting, 20.1% of shareholders present voted against the reappointment of KPMG, while 16.6% voted against EY, as joint auditors of South Africa-listed Investec Ltd., mainly on concerns that the failure to rotate the firms would compromise the independence of the auditor, the Financial Times reported. For London-listed Investec PLC, 12.9% of votes cast were against the reappointment of EY.
IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD
Asia-Pacific: Philippines cuts rates; APRA fines Westpac; AMP overhaul faces opposition
Europe: Aviva, Zurich Insurance H1 profits up; RBI result down; former HSBC exec fined
Latin America: Banco do Brasil, Banco Macro Q2 profits jump; BBVA to sell Paraguay unit
North America: Hedge fund Hoplite to shut down; NYDFS leads probe on payroll advance sector
Global Insurance: Commercial insurance pricing up; Aviva reviewing Asia ops; Sampo investment plan
Deza Mones, Henni Abdelghani, Pádraig Belton and Helen Popper contributed to this report.
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