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SSA news through Dec. 22

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SSA news through Dec. 22

EAST AFRICA

* A minimum of six financial institutions are bidding to buy Ugandan lender Crane Bank Ltd., with sale discussions already at advanced stages, the Daily Monitor reported. The six bidders reportedly include Barclays Plc-owned Barclays Africa Group Ltd. and FirstRand Ltd.-owned First National Bank of South Africa.

* The Uganda Revenue Authority deactivated KCB Uganda Ltd. from its portal, citing unresolved issues with the bank, and advised clients to not use the KCB Group Ltd. unit to make any payment to the URA, KFM wrote. The East African reported that a dispute between a client of the bank and the URA prompted the decision. The bank said it was identified as a garnishee in a court case involving the client and the URA.

* Meanwhile, KCB Group filed an appeal against a decision by Kenya's High Court that it falsified the statement of accounts of a firm to which it advanced a loan in 1989, Business Daily Africa wrote. The bank is seeking to dismiss the case filed by the company, Benjoh Amalgamated Ltd., saying the matter had been re-examined in 18 previous cases.

* Kenya's High Court barred the Capital Markets Authority from prosecuting directors of Imperial Bank Ltd. over the ill-fated 2 billion shilling bond issued prior to the lender's failure, Business Daily Africa wrote.

* A court asked National Bank of Kenya Ltd. to pay 200,000 shillings plus interest to a customer after the bank admitted to inadvertently forwarding her name to the Credit Reference Bureau, The Standard reported.

* UAP Old Mutual Group Kenya-based unit Faulu Microfinance Bank named Apollo Njoroge CEO, Business Daily Africa reported. Njoroge previously served as acting managing director for Equity Bank Uganda.

* Fitch Ratings affirmed Kenya's long-term foreign- and local-currency issuer default ratings at B+, with a negative outlook, as well as the country's B short-term foreign- and local-currency issuer default ratings and BB- county ceiling.

* Miriam Magala, CEO of the Uganda Insurers Association, said insurers in the country are ready to spur the growth of Islamic insurance, or takaful, in the market, Daily Monitor wrote.

WEST AFRICA

* The Central Bank of Nigeria intends to put measures in place to eliminate the currency black market, Reuters reported, citing Finance Minister Kemi Adeosun.

* Nigeria Deposit Insurance Commission Managing Director Alhaji Umaru Ibrahim said the commission and the Central Bank of Nigeria established a committee to look into bitcoin with a view to legalizing the digital currency's use in transactions, NTA reported.

* Nigeria's Debt Management Office said the country is looking for financial and legal advisers and trustee firms to help manage the issuance of its first sovereign sukuk, Reuters wrote. Bids for the roles are due Jan. 9, 2017.

* Some 111 audit firms are investigating 22 Nigerian banks over potential nonremittance of taxes, levies and duties to revenue-collecting agencies, BusinessNews reported. The audit firms have six months to submit their findings.

* Nigeria's overnight lending rate declined to around 3% last week from an average of 3.9% a week earlier, amid expectations that budget cash will be injected into the banking system, Reuters reported.

* Mitchell Elegbe, CEO of Nigeria-based payments firm Interswitch Ltd., said the firm has put on hold plans to raise up to $1 billion in an IPO as investors are wary of potential weaknesses in the local currency and foreign currency shortages, Bloomberg News wrote.

* Stanbic IBTC Holdings Plc reported group profit attributable to equity holders of the parent of 17.27 billion Nigerian nairas for the nine months ended Sept. 30, up from 11.02 billion nairas in the year-ago period.

* Nigerian insurer Continental Reinsurance named former Niger Insurance CEO Ajibola Ogunshola its new chairman, Financial Afrik reported.

* Ghanaian Finance Minister Seth Terkper said the country will fail to meet its budget deficit target for the year of 5.3% of GDP by 1.5 percentage points to 2 percentage points due to low crude output and higher-than-expected expenses on elections and energy sector debts, Bloomberg News reported.

* Ghanaian pension fund manager Social Security and National Insurance Trust acquired a 10% stake in Access Bank Plc unit Access Bank (Ghana) Ltd. during its recent IPO, Citi Business News reported.

* Standard Chartered Bank Ghana Ltd. CEO Kweku Bedu-Addo was named CEO of Standard Chartered Plc's southern Africa region comprising Mauritius, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Angola and South Africa, Joy Business wrote.

SOUTHERN AFRICA

* Deutsche Bank AG, the only lender that was still providing dollar clearing services in Angola, halted the service in mid-November, Bloomberg News said. Angola's central bank is said to be encouraging the use of euros, the South African rand and China's renminbi.

* Angolan state oil company Sonangol, headed by Isabel dos Santos, has the European Central Bank's go-ahead to raise its stake in Millennium BCP to more than 20%, Jornal de Negócios reported. It is said the ECB gave its approval to guarantee Sonangol's support for a shareholder vote earlier this week to raise the Portuguese bank's voting cap to 30% from 20% as demanded by Chinese group Fosun.

* Shareholders of failed Nosso Banco have been summoned to choose their representative on a committee set up to liquidate the Mozambican lender, which was shut down by the central bank in November because of its precarious finances, O Pais reported. João Machado, head of the committee, also called on any creditors of the bank to lodge their claims for compensation from Dec. 27. Nosso Banco's shareholders are mainly public companies, including the national social security agency.

* Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi was involved in setting up three public companies that borrowed some $2 billion with illegal government guarantees, leaked transcripts of a parliamentary probe show, news website Zitamar reported. The loans to the three companies are at the center of a foreign debt scandal that led the IMF and other foreign creditors to halt funding to Mozambique earlier this year.

* Industry experts expect South African banks to see an increase in nonperforming loans next year as the country continues to face threats of credit rating downgrades and economic instability, Bloomberg News wrote.

* New York-based technology firm Boloro Global Ltd. launched its debit authentication system in South Africa. The mobile authentication technology can prevent debit order abuse and fraud by enabling users to authenticate each transaction on their mobile phone before it is processed.

* U.S.-based GFI Group Inc.'s affiliated entity agreed to acquire Johannesburg-based interdealer broker Micromega Securities Proprietary Ltd.

* Malawian lender NBS Bank Ltd. will cut nearly 300 jobs as bad debts continue to weigh on the company's books, insiders told Nyasa Times. The reduction, which will not take place until March 2017, will likely affect senior and middle managers.

CENTRAL AFRICA

* The Bank of Central African States revised its economic growth forecast for the region's six-nation CEMAC bloc to 1% this year from a projection of 1.7% in October, citing a prolonged decline in oil prices, Reuters reported.

* The headquarters of GABAC, the action group against money laundering in central Africa, will be located in Gabon, Gaboneco reported.

* Three employees of Société Générale de Banques en Guinée Equatoriale were arrested by authorities in Equatorial Guinea, Jeune Afrique reported. The three were arrested for passing documents to the French financial prosecutor regarding Vice President Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, who is being tried in January 2017 in Paris for money laundering and other offenses.

Pádraig Belton and Helen Popper contributed to this report.