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BLOM BANK confirms HSBC talks; concerns about nonperforming insider loans in Nigeria

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BLOM BANK confirms HSBC talks; concerns about nonperforming insider loans in Nigeria

Commercial banks in 'protracted period of slower growth':Commercial banks across the Middle East and North Africa have entered a"protracted period of slower growth," Arabian Business writes,citing a study by BMI Research. The study found that asset growth in the GulfCooperation Council's banking sector is set to slow to 6% on a yearly basisbetween now and 2020, from an average of 17% over the past decade.

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

BLOM BANK confirms talks to buy HSBC's Lebanese ops: confirmed that itis in talks with HSBC HoldingsPlc to acquire the U.K.-based group's Lebanese operations, The Daily Star reports.

* Fitch Ratings on Fridaydowngraded thelong-term issuer default ratings and viability ratings of and following the recentdowngrade of Lebanon's sovereign rating. Fitch noted that both banks havesignificant exposures to the Lebanese sovereign and central bank.

* The UAE Ministry of HumanResources and Emiratisation issued a decree exempting small and medium-sizedenterprises from having to secure a bank guarantee to be able to continue as agoing concern, The National reports.The exemption will take effect from October.

* Bad debt weighed on the profitability of banks in theUnited Arab Emirates, with several lenders posting an increase in provisions inthe first half from the same period last year, Argaam writes.

* United ArabBank PJSC appointed Wael Zahnan actingcompany secretary to replace Rima Boutros.

* The Abu Dhabi Securities Exchangeand the Abu Dhabi Global Market signed amemorandum of understanding to strengthen their bilateral cooperation. Thestock market and the international financial center will look into thepossibility of establishing a financial exchange on the ADGM's Al-Maryah Islandsite, accordingto The National.

* Sheikh Salem Al-Abdulaziz, former governor of Kuwait'scentral bank, said the country is going through the toughest and most dangerousfinancial and economic crises, noting that local banks would not be able tofinance the private sector or provide loan to the state, Al-Rai reports.Banks were told to provide 5.6 billion Kuwaiti dinars per year over the nextfive years.

* GlobalInvestment House (K.P.S.C.) revealed that it will confiscate assetsof Al-Ahli Holding Group totaling more than 20 million Kuwaiti Dinars as partof a court ruling related to two separate case, Al-Qabas reports.

* Middle East Healthcare Co. said it signeda murabaha credit facility agreement with Samba Financial Group for 200 million Saudi Arabianriyals. The loan availability period runs until Jan. 1, 2017.

* Egypt's government is keen to list its shares instate-owned banks on the Egypt Exchange as a way of attracting domestic andinternational investment, Daily NewsEgypt reports.

* Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi vowed tosolve the country's U.S. dollar shortage by year-end, suggesting an end to thecentral bank's intervention in propping up the Egyptian pound, Daily News Egypt writes.

* The IMF Executive Board approveda two-year arrangement of approximately $3.47 billion for Morocco under theinstitution's precautionary and liquidity line. The fund cited Moroccanauthorities' successful reduction of fiscal and external vulnerabilities, aswell as the implementation of key reforms with the support of two previous PLLarrangements. Agence Ecofin also reports.

EAST AND WEST AFRICA

Concerns about nonperforming insider loans in Nigeria: The NigeriaDeposit Insurance Corp. expressed concern about the rise in nonperforminginsider loans by the country's banks, Reuters reports.NDIC Managing Director Alhaji Ibrahim called for a review of existing rules totoughen penalties imposed on bank directors who "take advantage of theirpositions" and fail to pay back their loans to their banks.

* Nigerian Finance Minister KemiAdeosun said her country will fall into a "short" recession if theeconomy shrinks again in the second quarter, Reuters reports.Adeosun's comments mark the first government reaction to the IMF's forecastthat the Nigerian economy is likely to contract 1.8% in 2016. Adeosun tellsthe Financial Times that thegovernment has "a very credible plan for dealing with the challenges weare facing." She expects the economy to rebound before year-end, Jeune Afrique notes.

* The Central Bank of Nigeria orderedauthorized dealers acting as agents to approved international money transferoperators to sell foreign currency accruing from inward money remittances tolicensed money exchange operators, with effect from Friday.

* Analysts expect the Central Bankof Kenya to keep interest rates unchanged at 10.50% at a monetary policymeeting today and possibly cut the rates by 50 basis points in November, accordingto a Reuters poll. A separatepoll by the newswire found that analysts see the Nigerian central bankraising interest rates by 100 basis points to 13% tomorrow in a bid to tacklerising inflation.

* CEO Peter Mwangisaid the firm expects to complete the acquisition of subsidiaries held underOld Mutual Kenya by 2016-end and merge all overlapping units into one by July2017, the Daily Nation reports.The integration followed OldMutual Plc's acquisition of a 37.3% stake in UAP Holdings in June2015, increasing its stake to 60.7%.

* Kenya Deposit Insurance Corp.acting CEO Mohamud Ahmed Mohamud said the deposit guarantee fund intends toadopt a risk-based framework that would dictate the amount of premium chargedon Kenyan banks within the next two years, the Daily Nation writes.

* The Kenya Deposit Insurance Corp.filed a suit in the U.K. in a bid to freeze assets in the country belonging tofish-dealing firm W.E. Tilley and other shareholders that allegedly defraudedImperial Bank Ltd.,the Daily Nation reports.The KDIC is also looking to freeze assets in Mauritius to give investigators timeto look for other hidden assets.   

* is poised to take overand reopen five Imperial Bank branches across Kenya following a recent courtruling allowing the payments to the troubled bank's depositors, Citizen Digitalwrites.

* 's share capital rose by1.5 billion shillings after shareholders chose to receive half of their 2shillings per-share dividends in scrip, BusinessDaily Africa reports.The other half of 1 shilling per share would be disbursed in cash.

* A bill seeking to amend Kenya'sinsurance law would expand the capital composition of insurance firms byincluding preference shares, subordinated loans, share premiums and reserves inthe calculation of an insurer's capital position, Business Daily Africa writes.

* BNP Paribas analysts warned thatKenya could default on its foreign debt obligations in the event of a furtherdevaluation of the shilling, given the country's current borrowing rate, accordingto Business Daily Africa. BNP Paribas Investment Partners' BryanCarter said Ghana and Zambia could also face default in the next five years iftheir currencies are devalued.

* ManagingDirector Alhassan Andani said the high nonperforming loans currently onGhanaian banks' books were due to debt owed by the government to utility andoil firms, Citi Business News reports.Data from the central bank showed that NPLs rose 59.9% to 4.9 billion cedi inMarch from 3.1 billion cedi a year ago.

* An ongoing political crisis andsuspension of foreign aid are contributing to Burundi's foreign exchangeshortage, making it hard for businesses to replenish imported stock, Reuters writes.Some forex traders are unable to buy U.S. dollars from the Burundian centralbank and are instead sourcing the currency from the Democratic Republic of theCongo.

* is laying offapproximately 195 employees as part of a staff rationalization program, ClassFMOnline reports. The employeeswill leave the bank at the end of the month.

* United Bank for Africa Senegal and MasterCard agreedon a partnership that will make the lender the issuing bank for MasterCard in18 new markets in Africa, Lejecos reports.

* Togo launched its first Islamic bonds with an aim tomobilize 150 billion CFA francs in a tender that runs from July 20 to Aug. 10,Agence Ecofin reports. The 10-year bonds pay a 6.5% interest rate annually.

CENTRAL AND SOUTHERNAFRICA

Litigation of Trust Bank directors proposed: The Zimbabwean DepositProtection Authority recommended litigation against past and current Trust BankCorp. Ltd. directors for fraudulent conduct, The Herald writes.The Zimbabwean central bank closed Trust Bank in 2013, the second time since2004, due to liquidity concerns.

* Bank Windhoek Holdings Ltd.'s board of directors proposedchanging the company's name to Capricorn Investment Group Ltd. in a bid toalign the name to that of Capricorn Investment Holdings Ltd., its ultimateholding company.

* entered into astrategic partnershipwith Japan-based Sumitomo LifeInsurance Co. and SoftBank Corp. that will see the companiesjointly develop and offer shared value insurance to the Japanese market.

* Angola's central bank sold just under $600 million in hard currency tothe country's banks in the first two weeks of July, pledging to ensure thatsales are more regular and better-timed to meet the needs of the dollar-starvedlocal economy, NovoJornal, Jornalde Angola and state news agency Angopall report. "Sales of dollars will continue regularly," the monetaryauthority said.

* Angolancentral bank officials highlighted progress in the banking sector's fightagainst money laundering and terrorism funding and called on local lenders totrain employees on best practice procedures to ensure further improvements,Angop reports.

* A new company called Recredit and fully controlled by Angola's FinanceMinistry has been established to manage financial assets currently held bystate-run Angolan lender Banco dePoupança e Crédito SA, O País reports.

* Loans made by Gabonese banksincreased 1.76 trillion CFA francs in late 2015 from 700 billion CFA francs in2009, Agence Ecofin says.  Deposits haveincreased from 1 trillion CFA francs to 2.1 trillion CFA francs in six years.

*Cash-strapped Mozambique's foreign reserves rose by $221 million in June toreach $1.92 billion, enough to pay for three months' worth of imports, Jornal de Notícias reports.

IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD

Asia-Pacific:

SherylGesto-Obejera, Henni Abdelghani, Pádraig Belton and Helen Popper contributed tothis report.

TheDaily Dose Middle East and Africa has an editorial deadline of 5 a.m. Londontime. Some external links may require a subscription.