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Credit Suisse proposes crisis manager Meddings for board seat

ZURICH (Reuters) – Credit Suisse (CSGN.S) proposed on Monday Richard Meddings, a British banker with long experience of crisis management, for election to its board in its first non-executive nomination since the Swiss bank was rocked by a spying scandal.

Two incidents of spying on some of Credit Suisse’s top executives have drawn scrutiny of both the executive and non-executive management of Switzerland’s second-biggest bank.

Meddings, chairman of Britain’s TSB Bank, has wide experience helping lenders navigate challenging times, including previously at Deutsche Bank DBGKn.DE and Standard Chartered (STAN.L).

His appointment will need to be approved by shareholders at an annual general meeting on April 30.

Switzerland’s market supervisor FINMA is examining Credit Suisse’s oversight of Chief Executive Tidjane Thiam and his top lieutenants, as well as possible control failures at the bank’s board of directors.

Credit Suisse Chairman Urs Rohner, in a statement announcing Meddings’ nomination, highlighted the Briton’s record in the financial industry and managing risk.

“Through his wealth of knowledge and experience in the financial industry and his expertise in audit and risk management, Richard will make a valuable contribution as a new member of our board of directors,” Rohner said.

As chairman of Britain’s TSB Bank, Meddings assumed executive responsibility after the lender’s chief executive was forced out following a botched migration of customer data which locked out nearly 2 million customers and wiped millions off parent Sabadell’s (SABE.MC) 2018 profits.

Meddings also served on the board of Deutsche Bank when it paid more than $7 billion to settle U.S. allegations of mis-selling mortgage-backed securities.

He was finance director of Standard Chartered when it faced pressure from U.S. authorities over $250 billion worth of transactions tied to Iran.

Reporting by Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi and Silke Koltrowitz, editing by John Revill and Susan Fenton

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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Bloomberg ranks cedi as best performing currency in the world against the dollar by

Bloomberg ranks cedi as best performing currency in the world against the dollar

Bloomberg has adjudged the Ghana cedi as the best performing currency against the US dollar among the 140 currencies it currently tracks.

According to Bloomberg, the local cedi has so far appreciated by 3.4 percent against the dollar as at Monday, February 3, 2020.

The fortunes of the cedi look even brighter considering the country is on the verge of issuing a US$3 billion Eurobond which is expected to provide more dollar inflows that would further cushion the cedi from volatilities.

The local currency’s performance is a stark contrast to the 2019 performance where the cedi cumulatively depreciated by about 13 percent.

The cedi’s strong performance comes on the back of a number of measures put in place by the central bank as well as the Finance Ministry to resolve the cedi’s perennial struggles against its major trading partners.

The central bank, among other things, announced the commencement of forward fx auctions which basically allows banks and other dealers to make advance purchases of foreign currency to be supplied at an agreed rate later on.

The Bank of Ghana adopted this to help in regulating the supply of foreign currency and to stabilize the cedi for some time.

The central bank’s auction committee in a statement issued last week said it accepted less than fifty percent of the total amount of bids submitted by banks in the forex forward sales for Tuesday, January 28, 2019.

The forty million dollars accepted by the central bank is about 38 million dollars less than the amount the banks bid for.


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Absa Group concludes agreement with MIGA to bolster financing

Absa Group Ltd., one of the largest diversified financial service providers in Africa, has concluded an agreement with the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) – a member of the World Bank Group, helping Absa expand financing across seven countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

In terms of the agreement, MIGA will issue guarantees of US$497million to Absa. The guarantees are valid for as long as 15 years and apply to Absa’s subsidiaries in Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Mozambique, Seychelles, Uganda and Zambia.

The guarantees will help to protect Absa against risks related to the mandatory capital reserves that Absa and other banks are required to hold with central banks. They will free-up financial capacity, enabling Absa’s subsidiaries to provide additional lending and generate more revenue. The subsidiaries will increase sustainable financing for corporates and small- and medium-sized businesses, as well as projects with co-climate benefits.

“We are pleased to work with MIGA. Their guarantees allow us to provide additional financing in our subsidiaries in Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Mozambique, Seychelles, Uganda and Zambia,” said Jason Quinn, Absa Group Financial Director.

Absa is the first African banking group to enter into this type of guarantee transaction with MIGA.


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Ghana signs deals worth GH¢2.35 billion at ongoing UK-Africa Investment Summit

The government of Ghana has signed commercial deals with UK firms worth more than GH¢2.35 billion for some five projects including an upgrade of the Kumasi Teaching Hospital in the Ashanti Region.

The deals, which were signed on the sidelines of the UK-Africa Investment Summit, according to the UK’s Department for International Development and Department for International Trade, are estimated at £326.8 million, which translates to about GH¢2.35 billion using the prevailing BoG exchange rate.

The breakdown of the projects given by the UK’s Department for International Development and Department for International Trade is as follows:

Africa win £26m export contract to supply solar-powered water filtration systems
BHM £80.3m work on the Tema-Aflao Road Project
Contracta Construction UK wins £120.5m export contract to upgrade Kumasi teaching hospital
Contracta Construction UK wins £40m export contract to develop Kumasi Airport
Tyllium and Ellipse win an export contract worth £60m to provide 250 new beds for a general hospital in Koforidua
The five deals are part of some 27 commercial deals signed with African entities on the opening day of the UK-Africa Investment Summit taking place in London.

The UK-Africa Investment Summit, hosted by the Prime Minister, brings together 21 African countries with UK and African companies.

This is the first time governments and businesses from the UK and Africa have come together for an event of this scale.

“The commercial deals are expected to drive jobs and growth in all parts of the UK and in Africa, benefiting a range of British companies from family firms to major multinationals. All new investments will reflect the Prime Minister’s commitment to building long-term, sustainable relationships in Africa underpinned by our values and high standards,” a press statement issued by the UK High Commission said.


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Air France-KLM proposes buying 49% of Malaysia Airlines, JAL seeks smaller stake: sources

Liz Lee, Anshuman Daga

KUALA LUMPUR/SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Proposals to invest in ailing Malaysia Airlines include one from Air France-KLM (AIRF.PA) which wants as much as 49% while Japan Airlines (9201.T) is looking at a 25% stake, people with knowledge of the matter said.

FILE PHOTO: Malaysia Airlines planes are pictured at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang, Malaysia, July 22, 2019. REUTERS/Lim Huey Teng
Domestic carrier AirAsia Group Bhd (AIRA.KL) and Malindo Air, the Malaysian arm of Indonesia’s Lion Air, have also submitted proposals, the people added.

Malaysia’s government has found the proposals from foreign airlines more attractive but the sovereign wealth fund that owns Malaysia Airlines favors a deal with AirAsia, one of the sources said.

“The bids from the foreign carriers are more comprehensive and strategic as both plan to capitalize on the strategic location of Malaysia for their operations,” said the source.

The Malaysian government has been seeking a strategic partner for its national airline, which has struggled to recover from two tragedies in 2014 – the mysterious disappearance of flight MH370 and the shooting down of flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine.

That year, it was taken private by sovereign wealth fund Khazanah Nasional Bhd, which paid 1.4 billion ringgit ($345 million) for the 30% of shares it did not already own.

The sources declined to be identified as the discussions are confidential. Representatives for Air France-KLM, AirAsia and Malindo did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Japan Airlines (JAL) said it was looking to expand its partnership with Malaysia Airlines through their joint venture but declined to comment on reports of a potential investment in the company.

The government has received five proposals as part of a review that started last year, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said on Monday, although he declined to name the suitors.

There is no official timeline for a deal, but one source has said the government wants to get an investor finalised this quarter.

Malaysia Airlines last year signed a joint venture agreement with JAL covering flights between Malaysia and Japan, which the Japanese airline said could be expanded in the future to cover U.S. flights.

Malaysia Airlines and JAL are both members of the oneworld airline alliance, while Air France-KLM is part of the rival SkyTeam alliance.

Sources said Air France-KLM had proposed setting up a hub for maintenance, repair and overhaul services in Malaysia, while Japan Airlines had offered to make the Southeast Asian country its regional hub, including for low-cost flights.

“An international solution is probably better in this situation as AirAsia would have competition concerns,” one of the sources said.

“This is still a work in progress but the story is around the potential for a massive hub in Southeast Asia and it’s clear that international airlines see value in Malaysia Airlines because of this,” the source said.

Business news website Focus Malaysia said on Monday, citing an official document, that Khazanah had been pushing for AirAsia to merge with Malaysia Airlines.

It also said AirAsia boss Tony Fernandes had proposed a three-way merger between the company, its long-haul unit AirAsia X (AIRX.KL) and Malaysia Airlines.

Khazanah, which appointed Morgan Stanley last year to advise on potential options for the airline, said it was working closely with the government.

FILE PHOTO: Airport staff works beside a Malaysia Airlines plane at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang, Malaysia, July 22, 2019. REUTERS/Lim Huey Teng
“While there have been several proposals in this regard, a review of the options available to us is still ongoing,” it said in a statement.

But Mahathir, who is also chairman of the board at Khazanah, said he was “not completely happy” with the way the fund had been evaluating the proposals.

“Unfortunately, Khazanah has got its own agenda so I have to check them,” he said.

Reporting by Liz Lee in Kuala Lumpur and Anshuman Daga in Singapore; Additional reporting by Jamie Freed in Sydney; Writing by Krishna N. Das; Editing by Edwina Gibbs

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