* Moody's revised the 2020 outlook for banks in Africa to negative from stable, reflecting their worsening operating conditions and the increasing pressure on asset quality. The agency said there will be regional variation, with banks in Egypt, Morocco, Mauritius and Kenya expected to be more resilient than banks in South Africa, Nigeria, Tunisia and Angola.
GULF COOPERATION COUNCIL
* The board of Saudi Indian Company for Cooperative Insurance Wafa Insurance cleared the appointment of Siraj Jamal as its new CEO, Argaam reported. Jamal was previously CFO. Separately, the company said it submitted a revised financial restructuring plan but noted that it is still unable to estimate the related financial impact.
* Mansour al-Bosiliy resigned as an independent member of Saudi Re for Cooperative Reinsurance Co.'s board, effective Dec. 31, citing private reasons.
* The board of directors of Al Ramz Corp. Investment and Development P.J.S.C. approved acquiring the activities of an unspecified non-banking financial institution, with details to be disclosed "at the earliest."
* Bahrain's central bank launched a new liquidity management tool for Islamic retail banks as part of efforts to develop Islamic banking in the country, Thomson Reuters' Zawya reported.
REST OF MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA
* Four out of five members of the Israeli central bank's monetary policy committee voted to hold the benchmark interest rate ILINR=ECI at 0.25% during its Nov. 25 meeting but rejected a possible rate cute if inflation remains low and the economy weakens, Reuters reported, citing minutes of the meeting.
* U.S. District Judge Richard Berman threatened to impose fines against Turkish bank Türkiye Halk Bankası AŞ and hold the bank in contempt of court for not acknowledging charges that it helped Iran evade U.S. sanctions, Bloomberg News reported. Prosecutors indicted the bank in October for allegedly aiding Iran in accessing $20 billion in frozen oil revenue.
* A.M. Best downgraded the financial strength rating to B+ from B++ and the long-term issuer credit rating to "bbb-" from "bbb" of Lebanon-based Bankers Assurance SAL. The ratings were placed under review with negative implications.
* A.M. Best placed under review with negative implications the B+ financial strength rating and the "bbb-" long-term issuer credit rating of Lebanese insurance firm Al Ittihad Al Watani (L'Union Nationale) Société Générale D'Assurances du Proche Orient SAL.
* Egypt issued $1 billion in one-year U.S. dollar-denominated Treasury bills that will mature Dec. 8, 2020, Reuters wrote, citing the country's central bank. The notes carry an average yield of 3.589%. Meanwhile, Egyptian Finance Minister Mohamed Maait said the government is looking at issuing three bond offerings in the 2019-2020 fiscal year.
* Banque Misr (SAE) Vice Chairman Akef El-Maghraby said the Egyptian bank is in discussions with the Saudi Arabian central bank for a license to open a new branch in Saudi Arabia, Thomson Reuters' Zawya reported. Banque Misr also plans to offer factoring services through its financial leasing arm, BM Lease, and open a new office in Dubai.
* Hayah Insurance Brokerage Chairman Maher Moustafa said the company commenced insurance brokerage operations in Egypt after receiving a three-year license from the Egyptian Financial Regulatory Authority last week, Amwal Al-Ghad reported.
*Algerian interim President Abdelkader Bensalah named Latrach Lazhar as managing director of Banque Extérieure d'Algérie and Frahta Miloud as managing director of Banque Nationale d'Algérie, Sabq Press reported.
* Richbond, a Moroccan manufacturing group, acquired a 40% stake in Morocco-based money transfer company Cash Plus, according to Financial Afrik.
EAST AND WEST AFRICA
* The Bank of Uganda maintained the central bank rate at 9%, rediscount rate at 13% and bank rate at 14%, with the inflation outlook unchanged from that in October.
* Standard Chartered Bank Nigeria Ltd. launched its digital bank, which will initially offer savings accounts, current accounts, fixed deposits and lending and wealth management solutions, according to a press release carried by Business Day.
* Nigeria-based Prestige Assurance Plc. appointed Sarberswar Sahoo to replace Balla Swamy as managing director. The company also named Vadlamudi Raja as an executive director.
* Ghanaian Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta wrote to Parliament that the pension industry's exposure to the banking sector amounts to roughly 900 million cedi, thus the need for a 15.6 billion-cedi protection for the financial sector against a collapse, Citi Business News reported. The requested amount would be used to protect depositors of the nine indigenous banks that lost their licenses between 2017 and 2019 due to regulatory violations.
* Telecommunications firm Vodafone Group PLC launched a travel insurance service in Ghana in partnership with StarLife Assurance Co., Ghanaian Times wrote. The travel companion service covers death, permanent disability and hospital admissions, which result from a car, train or ferry accident.
* The IMF's executive board completed the sixth review under the extended credit facility and extended fund facility arrangments for Côte d'Ivoire, enabling the disbursement of $133.4 million. The fund also approved the country's request to extend the IMF-supported program to the end of 2020.
* The NSIA financial services group said it would continue raising capital levels in 13 of its insurance subsidiaries until the end of 2021 to meet new regulatory requirements, République Togolaise reported.
CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN AFRICA
* The board of directors of Central Africa's financial markets, undergoing a process of unification, said the united market will have 100 million CFA francs of market capitalization in 2020, Financial Afrik wrote.
* Moody's downgraded Namibia's long-term issuer and senior unsecured ratings to Ba2, with a stable outlook, as public debt piles on, while growth remains weak for longer than anticipated.
* Angola's central bank cut the amount of foreign currency to be offered to the country's commercial banks this week to $30 million from $50 million previously, state news agency Angop reported. Banks did not buy all the foreign currency offered by the monetary authority last week, leading the kwanza currency to firm 1.5% against the dollar, Expansão reported, noting that local banks were experiencing a liquidity shortage linked to recent central bank measures including an increase in reserve requirements.
* Angola's Banco de Fomento Angola SA posted a lower third-quarter net profit of 74 billion kwanzas, down 51% from the same period a year ago, Expansão reported. It noted that the bank's performance had contributed to the sector's 24.5% decline in net income during the period to 392 billion kwanzas and meant it had been replaced as the country's most lucrative bank by Banco Angolano de Investimentos SA.
* The high-profile corruption trial of José Filomeno dos Santos, the son of Angola's former president, began in Luanda on Dec. 9, Bloomberg and O País reported. José Filomeno, also known as Zenu, has been charged with embezzlement and money laundering in relation to a $500 million transaction out of an account belonging to the central bank that took place when he was in charge of the country's $5 billion sovereign wealth fund. His co-defendants include former central bank governor, Valter Filipe da Silva.
* Angola's banks have Africa's highest rates of nonperforming loans, according to a report on the continent's financial sector by Moody's, Jornal Económico reported. It warned that the country's biggest commercial banks could find their capital buffers pressured by higher provisioning requirements and the local currency's depreciation, but noted that the supply of dollars had been improving and government initiatives that have "helped to strengthen financial stability."
* Cape Verde's central bank recommended maintaining the current monetary policy stance at its last board meeting, Expresso das Ilhas reported, citing the minutes of the late-November meeting. The monetary policy committee said the external environment, while less favorable, continued to benefit domestic demand and financing, noting a reduction in the current account deficit and inflation running at 1.1% in October.
IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD
Asia-Pacific: Bank Mandiri names new head; Australia OKs IOOF acquisition bid
Europe: HSBC risk chief to leave; Swedbank revamps executive team; M&G suspends 2nd fund
Latin America: New Argentine economy minister, central bank chief; Gilinski eyes bank launch
North America: Truist completes merger; SEC rejects NYSE's direct listing plan
Global Insurance: FAIR Plan change opposed; PG&E settlement; UnitedHealth pharmacy deal
Erin Tanchico, Henni Abdelghani, Pádraig Belton and Helen Popper contributed to this report.
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