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Samba FY'18 profit up 10%; Hapoalim joins SWIFT; Access Bank plots expansion

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Samba FY'18 profit up 10%; Hapoalim joins SWIFT; Access Bank plots expansion

GULF COOPERATION COUNCIL

* Moody's said the outlook on sovereign creditworthiness for 2019 in the GCC is stable, reflecting expectations that fundamental credit conditions will drive sovereign credit in the next 12 to 18 months. However, the rating agency noted that geopolitical tensions in the region would continue to be a key source of risk and could trigger an increase in military-related fiscal spending.

* Samba Financial Group reported full-year 2018 net profit of 5.53 billion Saudi Arabian riyals, up 10% from the year-ago 5.02 billion riyals.

* Qatar Islamic Bank QPSC's full-year 2018 net profit attributable to equity holders rose on a yearly basis to 2.76 billion riyals from 2.41 billion riyals.

* Oman-based Bank Sohar SAOG, which now operates as Sohar International, appointed Craig Barrington Bell as its new CFO, effective Jan. 3. Bell previously held the same post at Al Hilal Bank PJSC.

* Dubai Islamic Bank PJSC is set to raise $750 million via an offering of Islamic bonds. The Additional Tier 1 Islamic bonds carry a 6.25% yield and are perpetual with a six-year noncall period, receiving orders of more than $3.4 billion.

* Al Baraka Banking Group BSC issued a clarification following an interview with President and CEO Adnan Ahmed Yousif by The Star discussing the company's plans to expand in the Asian markets of Malaysia, China and Indonesia, saying the group currently has no immediate and concrete expansion plans for Malaysia.

* Bahrain-based Inovest BSC named Yasser al-Jar its CEO. Al-Jar served as the company's acting CEO for most of 2018 and previously served as CFO.

REST OF MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

* Bank deposits in Lebanon rose by 3.5% last year, Reuters reported, citing central bank Governor Riad Salamé. The central bank chief also said the regulator aims to keep the exchange rate of the Lebanese pound stable this year.

* Iran's Securities and Exchange Organization is looking to form a new anti-money laundering mechanism to allow authorities to closely monitor trade in the capital market, Financial Tribune wrote.

* Bank Hapoalim BM became the first Israeli lender to sign up for SWIFT's Global Payments Innovation, allowing the bank to process faster cross-border payments transactions.

* The board of QNB ALAHLI SAE proposed to increase the bank's issued and paid-up capital to 10.77 billion Egyptian pounds from 9.79 billion pounds through the issuance of 1 bonus share for every 10 shares held, Thomson Reuters' Zawya wrote.

EAST AND WEST AFRICA

* Uganda's High Court ordered DFCU Bank Ltd. to pay former Crane Bank employee Shakil Pathan Ismail 110 million shillings for money unlawfully deducted from his salary, the Daily Monitor reported. DFCU took over Crane Bank after it was liquidated in 2017.

* Nigeria's Access Bank PLC will expand into three more African countries this year as part of its five-year strategic plan, according to Financial Afrik. Access Bank, which is merging with Diamond Bank PLC, also intends to enter Hong Kong before the end of June, Footprint to Africa wrote.

* First Bank of Nigeria Ltd. is looking to trim down its nonperforming loan ratio to a single digit by the end of the year, Business Post Nigeria reported, citing CEO Adesola Adeduntan. Although projections are slow due to the upcoming elections in the country, Adeduntan said he expects that growth would be higher this year compared to 2018.

* Nigeria's main opposition candidate for president Atiku Abubakar has criticized central bank Governor Godwin Emefiele, saying he has not "pursued the right policies" and pledged to replace Emefiele if elected, Bloomberg News reported. Abubakar also outlined plans to eliminate the use of multiple exchange rates and float the local naira currency to attract foreign investors, Reuters noted.

CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN AFRICA

* South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said his party, the African National Congress, does not intend to "tamper or tinker" with the independence of the South African Reserve Bank, Reuters wrote. His comments come after the ANC said in its 2019 election manifesto that the central bank's monetary policy decisions should also take into account job creation and economic growth.

* The South African Reserve Bank, along with other authorities in the country, launched a consultation paper on regulating cryptocurrencies. Comments on the report will be accepted until Feb. 15.

* Two Angolan banks started the year with new leadership; António de Assis de Almeida replaced Carlos José da Silva as chairman of Banco Millennium Atlântico SA and Pedro Cruchinho succeeded Sanjay Bhasin as CEO of Banco Económico SA, Expansão reported.

* The liquidity of Namibian commercial banks plummeted by approximately 50% to 1.1 billion dollars in December 2018 from 2.3 billion dollars just a month earlier, according to The Namibian. The figures have been dropping rapidly a few months prior, mainly due to foreign currency outflows to trade-related payments.

IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD

Asia-Pacific: India eases foreign borrowing norms; ASIC to clamp down on car loans

Europe: UK lawmakers vote against Brexit deal; change of heart at Santander

Latin America: Argentina inflation hits 27-year high; Fitch downgrades Costa Rica

North America: BofA, Goldman Sachs Q4'18 earnings out; Fiserv acquiring First Data

Global Insurance: Cat losses $71.5B, Willis says; Markel faces litigation; PG&E liability wipeout

Deza Mones, Henni Abdelghani, Pádraig Belton and Mariana Aldano contributed to this report.

The Daily Dose Middle East and Africa has an editorial deadline of 4 a.m. London time. Some external links may require a subscription. Links are current as of publication time, and we are not responsible if those links are unavailable later.

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.