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MENA news through Aug. 7


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MENA news through Aug. 7

* The Dubai Financial Services Authority and the Central Bank of Egypt have signed a memorandum of understanding on supervisory cooperation, according to WAM news agency. The deal tackles financial crime prevention, consolidated supervision of common firms and crisis management, among others.

* Switzerland-based Credit Suisse Group AG named Khalid al-Ghamdi CEO in Saudi Arabia, effective in September, sources told Reuters. Al-Ghamdi is currently managing director of Mizuho Saudi Arabia.


* The central banks of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates slashed their interest rates after the U.S. Federal Reserve's widely expected decision to ease its own policy. Meanwhile, the Central Bank of Kuwait kept its discount rate at 3.0%. Unlike its Gulf peers, Kuwait ties its dinar to a basket of currencies instead of the U.S. dollar.

* Fitch Ratings said it expects M&A activities between Islamic banks in the Gulf region to increase since many lenders still fall short in terms of their market position to enable them to compete with larger peers. However, the agency noted that banks' issuer default rating will likely be unaffected by any deal since ratings are driven by an assumption of sovereign support in case of need.

* The financial intelligence units of Saudi Arabia and the UAE have signed an MoU to strengthen their cooperation against money laundering and financial terrorism, according to news agency WAM.

* Saudi Arabia-based Samba Financial Group reported a second-quarter net profit of 935 million riyals, down from 1.24 billion riyals in the same period in 2018. Local peer Banque Saudi Fransi's second-quarter net profit also declined on a yearly basis, to 804 million riyals from 841 million riyals.

* Meanwhile, Saudi British Bank reported a second-quarter net loss of 254 million Saudi Arabian riyals, compared to a net profit of 833 million riyals a year ago. Saudi Investment Bank, Alinma Bank and Arab National Bank also reported second-quarter results.

* Abu Dhabi Financial Group completed its merger with Shuaa Capital PSC. Shuaa now owns 48% of the new combined entity with $12.8 billion in AUM, while ADFG owns the remaining 52%.

* Some clients of U.K.-based Al Rayan Bank PLC, which is controlled by the Qatari government, are said to have connections with hard-line Islamists, The Times of London reported, following the newspaper's analysis of the bank's clients.

* Bahrain-based Arab Banking Corp. BSC posted second-quarter attributable profit of $57 million, a decrease from the year-ago $60 million. Bahraini peer Al Baraka Banking Group BSC's second-quarter attributable net income also declined, to $32.2 million from the year-ago $39.3 million.

* Bahrain-based Ahli United Bank BSC expects the completion of the due diligence studies related to the potential acquisition offer by Kuwait Finance House KSCP to be completed by the end of August.

* Bahrain's central bank has granted a full regulatory license to local cryptocurrency exchange Rain, which has begun trading and has also closed a $2.5 million seed round, Thomson Reuters' Zawya reported.

* Bahrain-based Ithmaar Holding BSC intends to voluntarily delist from Boursa Kuwait, subject to regulatory approvals in Bahrain and Kuwait. The company will continue to be listed on the Bahrain Bourse and the Dubai Financial Market.

* National Bank of Bahrain BSC promoted Isa Maseeh to chief risk officer from deputy chief risk officer.

* Bahraini sovereign wealth fund Bahrain Mumtalakat Holding Co. named Khalid al-Rumaihi CEO. Al-Rumaihi is chairman of Bahrain Development Bank BSC (c).

* Capital Intelligence Ratings affirmed the long- and short-term foreign- and local-currency ratings of Kuwait at AA-/A1+, with a stable outlook.


* The Central Bank of Jordan cut the interest rates on all monetary policy instruments by 25 basis points.

* Bank Sepah CEO Mohammad Kazem Choqazardi said the state-owned lender's proposed merger with five banks and credit institutions linked to the Iran military is underway after the completion of major steps in the process, the Financial Tribune wrote.

* The Iran Fara Bourse is set to host four IPOs, including that of electronic payments firm Fanva Card Co., the Financial Tribune reported, citing Fars News Agency.

* Iran's central bank again pushed back the launched of the regulated foreign exchange market, which was initially slated to be launched Aug. 12, due to technical issues, Financial Tribune reported, citing Fars News Agency. The new opening date for the market has yet to be disclosed.

* S&P Global Ratings placed the Israeli banking sector in group 3 under its Banking Industry Country Risk Assessment, reflecting a supporting operating environment for banks and their stable funding from a sound core customer deposit base as well as adequate banking regulation and supervision, among other factors.


* The Central Bank of Egypt has introduced a risk-free interest rate benchmark called the Cairo Overnight Interbank Average, or CONIA, developed in cooperation with commercial banks and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

* Egypt-based Fawry for Banking Technology and Electronic Payments SAE's IPO was 30.3x oversubscribed following a 15.9x oversubscription of its private placement of shares on Aug. 2 — both at a price of 6.46 Egyptian pounds per share, Reuters reported, citing data from the Egyptian stock exchange.

* Italy's Azimut Holding SpA has completed its acquisition of Rasmala Egypt Asset Management SAE after buying 499,000 shares for 211.3 million Egyptian pounds, Amwal Al Ghad wrote. Following the deal, Rasmala will be renamed Azimut Egypt Asset Management.

* The IMF has granted Egypt the final $2 billion tranche under a three-year loan program approved in 2016, Reuters wrote.

* Compagnie Générale du Faso acquired a 5% stake in Tunisia-based Banque Nationale Agricole, according to Financial Afrik.

Pádraig Belton contributed to this report.

This S&P Global Market Intelligence news article may contain information about credit ratings issued by S&P Global Ratings. Descriptions in this news article were not prepared by S&P Global Ratings.