MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA
* Moody's downgraded Qatar's long-term issuer and senior unsecured debt ratings to Aa3 from Aa2 and revised the outlook to stable from negative, reflecting a weakening of the country's external position and uncertainty over the sustainability of its growth model beyond the next few years.
* The rating agency also revised the ratings outlooks on the UAE and Kuwait to stable from negative. Moody's noted that the UAE economy's fiscal and current account positions are expected to improve, while Kuwait's institutional strength has improved enough to a level that will help limit downside risks to its rating.
* The U.K. Serious Fraud Office again delayed a decision on whether to charge Barclays Plc and its former officials over the British lender's controversial 2008 capital increase that involved Qatari investors, The Guardian reported. The SFO is now expected to announce a decision in mid-June instead of May-end.
* Saudi Re for Cooperative Reinsurance Co. intends to reduce its capital by 19.6% to 804 million Saudi Arabian riyals from 1 billion riyals through the elimination of 19.6 million shares, or 10 shares for every 51 shares held by investors. Saudi Re's share count will drop to 80.4 million shares after the capital reduction.
* Mashreqbank PSC signed up for international payments network provider SWIFT's global payments innovation service, making the Dubai-based lender the first in the Middle East to join the international initiative, Gulf News reported.
* Gholamreza Panahi, director of Bank Melli Iran Inc.'s department for foreign exchange, said the lender intends to revamp its branches in Europe as part of efforts to bolster its presence in the continent, the Financial Tribune reported. Panahi also said the lender is ready to launch and expand its network in East Asia.
* Capital Intelligence Ratings affirmed Jordan's long- and short-term sovereign ratings at BB-/B and revised the outlook to negative.
* Attijariwafa Bank SA reported first-quarter consolidated net income group share of 1.2 billion Moroccan dirhams, up 6.7% from the year-ago period and 10.8% at a constant scope. The lender added that the consolidation of recently acquired Barclays Bank Egypt (SAE), to be renamed Attijariwafa Bank Egypt, is set for June.
* Banque Misr - SAE Chairman Mohamed el-Etreby said the lender has provided roughly $5 billion to cover import payments and collected $2.4 billion since the Central Bank of Egypt floated the Egyptian pound in November 2016, Amwal Al Ghad reported.
* Central Bank of Egypt Governor Tarek Amer defended the regulator's decision to raise its key interest rates earlier this month, noting a historic level of foreign investment inflows worth almost $1 billion followed within days of the rate hike, Reuters reported. Foreign-currency inflows into the Egyptian banking system also reached about $25 billion since the Egyptian pound was floated in November 2016, Amer added.
EAST AND WEST AFRICA
* GCB Bank Ltd. declared a total dividend payout of 100.7 million Ghanaian cedis, or 38 pesewas per share, for 2016, up from 33 pesewas a year ago. Separately, GCB shareholders rejected a proposal to increase the remuneration of the bank's directors to 4 million cedis from 2.5 million cedis annually, Ghana News Agency reported.
* S&P Global Ratings raised Burkina Faso's long-term sovereign credit ratings to B from B-, citing improved external prospects. The outlook is stable.
* Fitch Ratings said that the loan rate cap and deposit rate floor implemented by the Kenyan government in September 2016 are harming smaller banks, which may become takeover targets or candidates for consolidation. All banks have suffered a reduction in spreads since loan rates were capped at 4 percentage points above the central bank's benchmark rate and a floor of 70% of the regulator's benchmark rate on deposit rates was placed, leading to falling interest income from loans and rising funding costs.
* Analysts expect the Central Bank of Kenya's monetary policy committee to keep its benchmark lending rate unchanged at its meeting today, despite concerns over inflation, Business Daily Africa wrote.
* Bob Collymore, CEO of Vodafone's Kenyan unit Safaricom, said money transfer service M-Pesa will expand into more African countries, Reuters wrote.
CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN AFRICA
* Barclays Africa Group Ltd. CEO Maria Ramos said the decision of parent company Barclays to exit the African region will not affect Barclays Africa's operations in Ghana and nine other countries in the region, Joy Business wrote. Meanwhile, Barclays Bank of Zimbabwe Ltd.'s employees filed court papers in Zimbabwe's High Court in an attempt to block the bank's sale to First Merchant Bank Ltd. or to any other investor, Chronicle wrote, citing Bloomberg News.
* S&P Global Ratings revised the outlook on African Reinsurance Corp. unit African Reinsurance Corp. South Africa Ltd. to negative from stable.
* South African President Jacob Zuma survived a no-confidence motion against him at a meeting of the ruling African National Congress party, Reuters reported, citing website News24.
* Angolan taxpayers can now pay their taxes in foreign currencies under an amended general tax law as the government moves to cope with a shortage of foreign cash in the country, according to Reuters.
IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD
Asia-Pacific: Cathay signs deal for Scotiabank's Malaysia arm; Fairfax sells Indian JV stake
Leo Magno, Sarah Raslan, Sophie Davies and Mariana Aldano contributed to this report.
The Daily Dose Middle East and Africa has an editorial deadline of 5 a.m. London time. Some external links may require a subscription. S&P Global Ratings and S&P Global Market Intelligence are owned by S&P Global Inc.