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MENA news through Aug. 9


* Several lenders based in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt, have refused to extend deposits with Qatari banks when they mature, for fear of repercussions for continuing to do business with Qatar after the four states severed ties with the country in early June over its alleged ties to terrorism, insiders told Bloomberg News.

* Meanwhile, individual officials in Abu Dhabi have launched an ad hoc boycott of Western banks with stakes owned by Qatari investors, the Financial Times reported. Affected lenders include Barclays Plc, in which Qatari investors have a 6% stake, and Credit Suisse Group AG, of which the Qatar Investment Authority's direct investment business owns 5% with purchase rights over a further 13% stake.

* Investors and analysts said Qatar National Bank (QPSC), Commercial Bank (P.S.Q.C.) and Doha Bank QSC which are said to be weighing funding options that include private placements, loans or dollar-denominated bonds — would have to pay more to drum up interest amid the ongoing political dispute in the region, Bloomberg wrote.

* Moody's lowered the outlook on Qatar's banking system to negative from stable, citing weakening operating conditions, ongoing funding challenges and the potential weakening capacity of the state to support its banks.

* A unit of Doha Bank QSC is in talks with local lenders about a potential deal for a part of its UAE loan book, insiders told Reuters.

* Profitability at Saudi Arabia's biggest banks — National Commercial Bank, Al Rajhi Banking & Investment Corp., Samba Financial Group, Riyad Bank, and Banque Saudi Fransi — could face further pressures going into 2018 as the government's move to rein in spending negatively impacts economic growth, which in turn dampens credit demand and weakens corporate and consumer borrowers' ability to repay debt, according to Moody's.

* Samba Financial Group reported first-half net profit of 2.50 billion Saudi Arabian riyals, down by 2.8% from the year-ago 2.57 billion riyals. The decline was attributed to an 8.2% rise in gross operating expenses due to higher credit costs and other general and administrative expenses, Argaam noted.

* Bill Winters, CEO of U.K.-based Standard Chartered Plc, warned that the diplomatic blockade against Qatar could have an adverse impact on Dubai's status as a financial hub, saying that the impasse with Qatar entails "a risk of turning away from the UAE."

* Qatar Insurance Co. SAQ unit Oman Qatar Insurance Co. SAOC unveiled plans to float 25 million shares in an IPO, in accordance with a royal decree requiring nonlisted national insurers to offer at least 25% of their share capital in IPOs.

* Al Baraka Banking Group BSC reported second-quarter consolidated net income attributable to equity holders of the parent of $35.7 million, down from $43.6 million a year earlier. For the first half, attributable net income came in at $69.7 million, compared to the year-ago $81.4 million. The group also unveiled plans to start its activities in Morocco under the name BTI Bank and to open 1,000 branches across the globe by 2020, Reuters noted.

* Ithmaar Holding BSC is considering selling its 25.4% stake in BBK BSC, which is valued at roughly $250 million, insiders told Reuters. Ithmaar, which is said to be working with an investment bank regarding the sale, has also talked to other lenders about the matter.

* Bahrain-based Investcorp plans to make 10 investments across its real estate and private equity businesses in the current financial year, as it seeks to boost its assets under management to $25 billion in the next three years or so, Reuters reported, citing the firm's co-CEO, Rishi Kapoor.

* Banks in Oman are expected to face pressure to maintain their profitability following a rise in policy rates and interbank rates in the country, according to a report by the central bank, the Times of Oman wrote.

* First Takaful Insurance Co. KSC (Public) appointed Hamed Mohamed Alaiban chairman of the board, replacing Laila Abdul Karim Al-Ibrahim, who stepped down Aug. 3. Saleh Saleh Al-Selmi was appointed vice chairman.

* Hedva Ber, the Bank of Israel's financial system supervisor, said she would back a potential sale of Union Bank of Israel Ltd. to Mizrahi Tefahot Bank Ltd. as it would increase competition in the banking sector, Bloomberg reported. Ber said she would favor a scenario in which Israel would have "a market of three big players," including Bank Hapoalim B.M. and Bank Leumi le-Israel BM.

* S&P Global Ratings revised the outlook on Israel to positive from stable, citing a potential for stronger-than-anticipated general government fiscal performance in the next two years.


* Egyptian Exchange Vice Chairman Mohsen Adel said the country expects to see three to five IPOs of large and medium-sized companies before the end of 2017. He added that the EGX will be focusing on attracting new firms over the next few years by introducing new financial instruments such as Islamic financing and converting to a full digital quote system. Separately, Mohamed Farid Saleh was appointed new chairman of the EGX, replacing Mohamed Omran, whose four-year term ends this week.

* Egyptian Gulf Bank (SAE) has received the go-ahead from the Egyptian capital markets authority to carry out a $27.7 million capital increase, Agence Ecofin reported. The bank will issue nearly 27 million shares with a nominal value of $1 per share. Subscriptions will be open for one month from Aug. 28.

* National Bank of Egypt (SAE) Deputy Chairman Yehia Aboul Fotouh said the lender has raised roughly 300 billion pounds from its high-yield certificates of deposit from when the central bank floated the pound in November 2016 to July 2017, Amwal Al Ghad reported.

* The Central Bank of Egypt said the capital of lenders operating in the country rose to 128.30 billion Egyptian pounds at April-end from 114.56 billion pounds in the previous month, Daily News Egypt wrote.

S&P Global Ratings and S&P Global Market Intelligence are owned by S&P Global Inc.

Sophie Davies and Henni Abdelghani contributed to this report.