MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA
* Israel Discount Bank Ltd.'s board of directors approved a new dividend policy, allowing it to distribute quarterly dividend payments of up to 15% of its net profit, beginning in the first quarter of 2018. The bank has not distributed dividends for 20 years, except for a single, 250 million Israeli shekel dividend in October 2008, Globes noted.
* The Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority signed a cooperation agreement with the General Department of Traffic to develop the country's auto insurance sector, ahead of the government's planned implementation of a decree in June 2018 allowing women to drive, Argaam reported.
* United Cooperative Assurance Co. named CFO Faker Rais as acting CEO for 60 days, effective Dec. 26.
* Qatar General Insurance & Reinsurance Co. QPSC entered into an agreement with Ahli Bank QSC for the marketing of its insurance products.
* Bahrain Middle East Bank BSC said its rights issue to shareholders closed with 157,996,674 subscribed shares, representing about 65.3% of 242,003,326 offered shares.
* Dawood Tawfiq, executive committee director at the Kuwait Insurance Federation, said the Kuwaiti insurance sector needs more regulations and should be under the regulatory umbrella of the Central Bank of Kuwait, according to Al Jarida.
* Kuwaiti Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled al-Jarallah said the working mechanism of the Gulf Cooperation Council "will not be frozen or impeded" despite an ongoing diplomatic row between some of its members, Kuwait News Agency reported.
* Bank Sepah, the Export Development Bank of Iran, Parsian Bank and Bank Pasargad Plc signed an "unlimited" finance deal with the State Specialized Russian Export-Import Bank (JSC), the Financial Tribune reported, citing the Central Bank of Iran. Under the deal, the Russian bank will provide the four Iranian lenders with funds "without a ceiling" to finance development projects in Iran.
* The Iranian Privatization Organization plans to sell 24 state-owned assets and enterprises with an aggregate value of 17 trillion Iranian rials on Jan. 8, 2018, according to the Financial Tribune.
* The Central Bank of Egypt will maintain its key interest rates at a monetary policy meeting set today, a Reuters poll of economists showed.
* Mohsen Adel, deputy head of the Egyptian Exchange, said the exchange considers dealing in bitcoin "a big bubble" and speculating on the digital currency unsafe, Daily News Egypt reported.
* Labid Zaafrane has been named CEO of Banque de Financement des Petites et Moyennes Entreprises, according to L'Economiste Maghrébin. He replaces Slim Feriani, who has been appointed Tunisian minister of industry and small and medium-sized enterprises.
EAST AND WEST AFRICA
* Analysts at EFG Hermes Kenya expect KCB Bank Kenya Ltd., Equity Bank (Kenya) Ltd., Co-operative Bank of Kenya Ltd. and Stanbic Bank Kenya Ltd. to boost their loan loss provisions by 36 billion Kenyan shillings under the new IFRS 9 accounting standards set to come into force Jan. 1, 2018, The East African reported.
CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN AFRICA
* Sasfin Holdings Ltd. appointed Angela Pillay as group financial director, effective from March 1, 2018. Pillay will also serve as a director of various subsidiaries, including Sasfin Bank Ltd.
IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD
Asia-Pacific: Nippon Life acquires asset manager stake; India's National Insurance defers IPO
Europe: Credit Suisse unveils US tax law impact; Natixis sells stake in CACEIS
Latin America: BCI estimates loss due to US tax reform; Argentina central bank holds key rate
North America: 2 Illinois banks ink $41.1M deal; Kansas' Community Bancorp to acquire Shelbank
North America Insurance: Chubb expects $250M gain from tax reform; GEICO's private auto loss ratio rises
Leo Magno, Henni Abdelghani, Sophie Davies and Helen Popper contributed to this report.
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