North Africa/Middle East

Paralysed by financial crisis and riven with political risk, a number of Lebanon’s banks are struggling to meet a central bank target to raise their capital defences by 20% by the end of this month, Reuters reported. Less than half of the country’s dozen or so large banks are expected to meet the requirement, which the central bank set in August to reinforce the sector, according to four banking sources with direct knowledge of the situation.
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Satellite operator Intelsat SA said on Friday it has filed a restructuring plan backed by some of its creditors, in a bid to reduce debt and emerge from bankruptcy in the second half of the year, Reuters reported. The plan aims to reduce debt by more than half to $7 billion and has the support of holders of about $3.8 billion of its debt, the company said. It has sought a hearing on Mar. 17 for a court approval to solicit votes on the plan.

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Egypt held interest rates, putting monetary easing on pause for another month as the coronavirus keeps global markets on edge, Bloomberg News reported. The deposit rate will remain at 8.25% and the lending rate at 9.25%, the central bank’s Monetary Policy Committee said Thursday in a statement. Ten of 13 economists surveyed by Bloomberg had predicted the decision. The second wave of the pandemic and containment steps “continue to weigh on the near-term outlook,” the MPC said.

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Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank PJSC, one of the biggest lenders to NMC Health Plc, expects creditors’ approval for a restructuring plan for the collapsed hospital operator in the first half, Bloomberg News reported. The bank recorded 1.66 billion dirhams ($450 million) in provisions and interest in suspense toward NMC, Finablr Plc and associated companies last year, according to a statement. ADCB is “comfortable” with the provisioning levels, “given the positive developments in NMC’s recent financial performance and its ongoing restructuring process,” it said.

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Saudi Arabia sold a two-part dollar bond as countries in the Gulf Arab region raise cash buffers to weather low oil prices and the coronavirus pandemic, Bloomberg News reported. The world’s largest crude exporter priced $5 billion in bonds on Tuesday. The $2.75 billion 12-year notes were priced at 130 basis points over 10-year U.S. Treasuries, compared with guidance of 140 basis points and initial price talk of 165. The $2.25 billion 40-year security were priced at 3.45%, versus guidance in the 3.55% area and initial price talk of 3.75%.

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Tunisian youths clashed with security forces in cities across this North African nation for a fourth night on Monday, burning tires and hurling gasoline bombs to protest worsening economic problems, police violence and poor government services, the Washington Post reported. Security forces have retaliated with tear gas and water cannons to disperse the hundreds of teenagers. While scenes of mayhem and chaos captured in videos zipped across social media, there were also peaceful demonstrations.

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Oman returned to the debt market for the third time in less than three months, taking advantage of investors’ appetite for yield to help plug the Gulf Arab region’s widest budget deficit, Bloomberg News reported. The largest oil exporter outside of OPEC sold $3.25 billion in a three-part debt offering. Oman priced $1.75 billion in 10-year notes at a yield of 6.25%. It sold another $1 billion in 30-year securities at 7.25%, versus guidance of 7.5% and initial price talk of between 7.625% and 7.75%.

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A unit of the main conglomerate controlled by Dubai’s ruler is facing off against creditors including Mashreqbank PSC after telling them it won’t fully repay a loan that was restructured in 2013, Bloomberg News reported. The $1.2 billion syndicated facility is linked to Dubai Holding Investments Group LLC’s acquisition in 2007 of a 10% stake in U.S. hedge fund Och-Ziff Capital Management Group, since renamed Sculptor Capital Management.

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