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SSA news through May 30

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SSA news through May 30

* France's BNP Paribas SA said it has begun exploring a potential sale of its retail banks in Guinea, Mali and Burkina Faso, Agence Ecofin wrote. The bank emphasized it does not intend to withdraw from the continent entirely but that it aims to accelerate the refocusing of its activities in Africa.

* London-headquartered private equity firm Helios Investment Partners LLP aims to raise about $1.25 billion for a pan-Africa investment fund, insiders told Bloomberg News. Helios, which focuses on African investments, could reportedly start fundraising for the vehicle later this year.

* U.K.-based Airtel Africa Ltd. is planning to list on the main market of the London Stock Exchange in an effort to broaden its data and mobile money services across the African continent, Reuters reported. The telco, which operates in 14 African markets including the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Seychelles, Uganda and Zambia, is planning to raise US$1 billion in a June equity offering, the news outlet noted, citing a source with knowledge of the matter.

EAST AFRICA

* Rwanda-based Bank of Kigali is in discussions to acquire local insurer Sonarwa SA CFO Nathalie Mpaka told Reuters that a proposal could be presented to the bank's board by August. Bank of Kigali is also among at least 10 companies that have expressed interest in listing on the Nairobi Securities Exchange Plc, possibly ending the decade-long IPO drought on the bourse, Daily Nation wrote.

* The Central Bank of Kenya left its benchmark interest rate unchanged for a fifth time in a row at 9.00%, saying inflation remains within its target in the near term and that the economy is "operating close to its potential." The country's inflation rate surged to a 19-month high of 6.6% last month compared to 4.4% in March, Bloomberg noted.

* Kenya-based KCB Group PLC's shareholders unanimously approved the plan to acquire 100% of National Bank of Kenya Ltd. ordinary shares, Reuters reported, citing a witness present at KCB's annual general meeting.

* The World Bank granted Kenya a $750 million loan for reforms on inclusive growth, poverty reduction and other targets. The taxpayers in the East African country will repay the loan for 30 years, Business Daily Africa reported.

* Kenyan banking groups KCB, Co-operative Bank of Kenya Ltd., Diamond Trust Bank Kenya Ltd., Standard Chartered Bank Kenya Ltd. and Equity Group Holdings PLC have taken steps to bolster their controls after being fined an aggregate amount of 392.5 million shillings for handling dirty money stolen from the National Youth Service, Business Daily Africa reported.

* Diamond Trust Bank Kenya posted first-quarter group profit after tax and non-controlling interests of 1.83 billion Kenyan shillings, up from the year-ago 1.68 billion shillings.

* Nairobi Securities Exchange Plc clinched regulatory approval to proceed with the launch of a derivatives market, becoming the second African bourse to do so, and said it expects to begin trading of futures contracts in July.

WEST AFRICA

* The Bank of Ghana maintained its benchmark interest rate at 16% amid rising headline inflation, which stood at 9.5% in April compared to 9.3% a month earlier.

* GCB Bank Ltd. is looking to transform its development finance arm into an investment bank called GCB Securities, Bloomberg reported, citing Managing Director Anselm Sowah. Separately, the lender said the formation of a special court for financial cases in Ghana will help settle disputes amicably, Citi Business News wrote.

* Liberian central bank Executive Governor Nathaniel Patray will retire in the next three months, while Mounir Siaplay stepped down as deputy governor for economic policy, as President George Weah announced an overhaul of the regulator's leadership, Bloomberg wrote.

* S&P Global Ratings affirmed the A- long-term issuer credit and insurer financial strength ratings on African Reinsurance Corp. The outlook is stable. S&P also affirmed financial strength credit rating on the guaranteed subsidiary, African Reinsurance Corp. South Africa Ltd.

* Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari was sworn in for a second term on May 29, various news outlets including Al Jazeera reported.

SOUTHERN AFRICA

* Angola's central bank cut its benchmark interest rate by 0.25 percentage points to 15.5% last Friday, citing a downward inflationary path, Jornal de Angola reported.

* Peter Mutharika was declared Malawi's president for a second term after the country's high court lifted an injunction order filed by the opposition against the announcement of the election results, media outlets including BBC News and the Financial Times reported.

* The shareholders of South African lender Standard Bank Group Ltd. rejected a resolution that would have obliged the group to disclose climate risk in its businesses, Reuters wrote. The shareholders, however, voted in favor of having the group report its policies on coal financing.

* South African telecom firm MTN Group Ltd. is planning to launch a "financial services marketplace" app in an effort to transform its mobile money platform MoMo into Africa's largest bank. The group initially plans to enable payments through MoMo and eventually offer banking products like loans, savings and investments, among others. The group also agreed to sell its stake in investment fund Amadeus to Boston-based private equity firm HarbourVest Partners LLC for 1.2 billion rand.

* Old Mutual Ltd. suspended CEO Peter Moyo, effective May 24, due to "a material breakdown of trust and confidence" between him and the board. COO Iain Williamson will assume the role of acting CEO.

* FNB Moçambique SA, a unit of South Africa's FirstRand Ltd., is planning a series of capital increases over the next two years as part of its repositioning strategy. Paulo Pereira, a director at FNB Moçambique, told O País that the bank planned to refocus its operations on big companies and retail and investment banking.

Sophie Davies, Helen Popper and Mariana Aldano contributed to this report.

This S&P Global Market Intelligence news article may contain information about credit ratings issued by S&P Global Ratings. Descriptions in this news article were not prepared by S&P Global Ratings.