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SSA news through Oct. 18

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SSA news through Oct. 18

* Julius Bär Gruppe AG is planning several acquisitions in the Middle East and Africa as part of its global growth strategy, The National reported, citing the head of the Swiss banking group's emerging markets business, Rémy Bersier.

EAST AFRICA

* Moody's said the cost of Kenya's debt could increase after its international sovereign bonds mature in 2019 and 2020, particularly if the shilling depreciates and global loan market conditions tighten, Business Daily Africa wrote.

* U.K.-based banknote printing firm De La Rue International Ltd. will retain its 10 billion Kenyan shilling-a-year contract from Kenya's central bank after a High Court decision to nullify the award was reversed by the Court of Appeal, Daily Nation reported.

WEST AFRICA

* Zenith Bank PLC reported third-quarter group profit attributable to equity holders of the parent of 52.67 billion Nigerian nairas, down from 53.86 billion nairas a year ago. For the nine months ended Sept. 30, the bank's attributable profit rose to 143.75 billion nairas from the year-ago 129.05 billion nairas.

* Standard Chartered PLC CEO Bill Winters said the group is planning to launch a digital bank in Ghana before the end of 2018, Joy Business reported.

* Togo-based Oragroup SA is to announce a public share offering in Abidjan Oct. 19, Financial Afrik wrote.

* The extraordinary general meeting of Nigerian insurer LASACO Assurance Plc resolved to increase the company's share capital to 20 billion shares from 10 billion shares.

* BFL Microfinance Bank's management has sued Nigeria's central bank for illegally revoking its license, Daily Trust reported.

* Ghana's Securities and Exchange Commission has decided on a new minimum capital requirement for various capital markets players, which could be given up to one year to meet the new requirement, insiders told Joy Business.

* Moody's affirmed the long-term foreign- and local-currency bank deposit ratings of First Bank of Nigeria Ltd. at B3 and B2, respectively, and revised the outlook on the ratings to stable from negative. The rating agency also took the same actions on the bank's B2 long-term local- and foreign-currency issuer ratings.

* Ghana's Financial Intelligence Centre has received 2,010 reports of suspicious transactions from Ghanaian banks and nonbank financial institutions, with the number still increasing on a monthly basis, Joy Business reported, citing FIC Head of Business William Nutakor.

* Ghana-based financial services firm Enterprise Group Ltd is set to expand its life insurance business into the Nigerian market, Joy Business reported.

SOUTHERN AFRICA

* Angola's Capital Markets Commission has fined Banco Económico SA, Banco de Fomento Angola SA and Banco Millennium Atlântico SA for failing to provide financial information required by the regulator, state news agency Angop reported.

* The office of the South African president rejected a media report claiming that Cyril Ramaphosa knew of the looting at VBS Mutual Bank but failed to take any action, saying the allegation was "baseless and unsubstantiated," Reuters reported. The leader of the Democratic Alliance, Mmusi Maimane, said the group is considering taking legal action against Ramaphosa if the allegations are proved true, Business Day wrote.

* Meanwhile, Ramaphosa ordered an inquiry into alleged improprieties regarding investments by state pension fund Public Investment Co., Reuters reported.

* Old Mutual Ltd. completed the unbundling of its majority stake in Nedbank Group Ltd., reducing its stake in the lender to 19.9%. The move marks the final step in Old Mutual's managed separation.

* Following the unbundling, Nedbank confirmed its intention to implement an odd-lot offer to all of its eligible shareholders holding fewer than 100 ordinary shares in the group to repurchase the shares, subject to shareholder approval. Nedbank said the move will reduce complexity and administrative costs associated with its newly enlarged shareholder base.

* Meanwhile, Old Mutual sold 5,494,762 unbundled shares in Nedbank to qualifying institutional investors for 230 South African rand apiece.

* National Bank of Angola Governor José de Lima Massano warned that some of the country's 29 banks will be shut down should they fail to increase capital by December, the Financial Times wrote.

* An inquiry reviewing evidence on the suspended head of South Africa's Revenue Service, Tom Moyane, has urged President Cyril Ramaphosa to fire Moyane for his reckless management of the agency during his tenure, Moneyweb reported.

* Moody's said it could upgrade South Africa's credit ratings if it successfully carries out structural reforms that would boost economic growth and stabilize the country's debt burden, Bloomberg News reported.

* Banque Centrale Populaire completed the acquisition of Groupe BPCE's Mauritius-based unit, Banque des Mascareignes Ltée, Reuters reported. Following the acquisition, Banque Centrale Populaire co-CEO Kamal Mokdad said the lender plans to acquire banks in at least four African nations, including Kenya, Rwanda, Ghana and Tanzania, in the medium term, Bloomberg wrote.

* Discovery Life Ltd. disclosed the personal information of around 1,000 clients after it filed an urgent application with the Johannesburg High Court to prohibit one of its former brokers, Devan de Meyer, from contacting, attracting and soliciting away the clients, Moneyweb reported. The company is moving to seal court papers containing the data, saying the information was not meant to be publicly revealed, Business Day noted.

* SBM Bank (Mauritius) Ltd.'s Indian unit said it was able to recover about 90% of the funds stolen from the bank in a cyberattack in early October, the Indo-Asian News Service reported.

* Mozambique's government has rejected a proposal led by Credit Suisse Group AG and Russia's Bank VTB Group to restructure a $662 million defaulted loan to state-owned maritime-security company ProIndicus, Bloomberg reported.

* South African investment firm PSG Group Ltd. said it expects headline EPS to rise between 39.1% and 40.5% in the six months to August-end.

* Insurer Momentum is evaluating banks that it can partner with to have a banking license, Moneyweb wrote.

CENTRAL AFRICA

* Moody's revised its outlook on the Republic of the Congo's issuer ratings to stable from negative while affirming the Caa2 ratings, citing its expectation that negotiations to restructure the government's debt would not trigger a default.

Helen Popper and Sophie Davies contributed to this report.