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SSA news through Feb. 22

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SSA news through Feb. 22

EAST AFRICA

* The Ugandan central bank denied that it is taking over Bank of India (Uganda) Ltd. after rumors circulated that the bank would cease operations in the East African country in March, the Daily Monitor reported.

* Kenya-based Commercial Bank of Africa Ltd. has concluded its acquisition of Crane Bank Rwanda Ltd. from Uganda-based DFCU Ltd. after receiving regulatory approvals from the central banks of Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda, The East African wrote.

* Kenya's Capital Markets Authority fined KCB Group Plc and British American Asset Management 10.14 million Kenyan shillings for breaching investment levels in Chase Bank (Kenya) Ltd., Standard Digital reported.

* Kenyan lenders such as KCB Group, Equity Group Holdings Plc and Co-operative Bank of Kenya Ltd. have so far struggled to make headway in East African markets and may have to rethink their expansion plans, according to a report by global investment bank Renaissance Capital, Business Daily Africa reported.

* Nancy Onyango left Kenya-based KCB Group as a board director to serve as the director of internal audit and inspection at the IMF, Standard Digital reported, citing the lender. The bank will fill the position by appointing Josephine Djirackor.

* Orient Bank Ltd. secured a bancassurance license from the Insurance Regulatory Authority of Uganda, The Observer wrote.

* Ethiopia declared a six-month state of emergency a day after Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn unexpectedly resigned Feb. 15, as part of efforts to curtail unrest and violence in the country, Reuters and the Financial Times reported.

WEST AFRICA

* Only six lenders — Access Bank Plc, Zenith Bank Plc, Guaranty Trust Bank Plc, First City Monument Bank Ltd., Wema Bank Plc and United Bank for Africa Plc — have met the Central Bank of Nigeria's policy on dividend payouts for commercial banks and discount houses, Daily Post Nigeria reported, citing a report by investment and research firm Afrinvest West Africa. Under the policy, commercial banks with nonperforming loan ratios over 10% will not be allowed to pay dividends, Reuters noted.

* HFC Bank (Ghana) Ltd. will raise more than 250 million Ghanaian cedis from shareholders to meet the Bank of Ghana's new capital requirement before December, Anthony Jordan, the bank's managing director, told Joy Business.

SOUTH AFRICA

* The Bank of Zambia lowered its key policy rate by 50 basis points to 9.75% and statutory reserve ratio by 300 basis points to 5.0%.

* Groupe BPCE signed an agreement through unit BPCE International et Outre-mer SA to divest Mauritius-based Banque des Mascareignes Ltée and the latter's Madagascan unit, Banque des Mascareignes Madagascar, to Morocco's Banque Centrale Populaire and its strategic partner in Madagascar, Groupe Sipromad. Completion of the transaction is subject to usual condition, particularly approval from regulatory authorities in Mauritius, Madagascar and Morocco, which should be obtained by the end of the first half.

* Daniel Essoo has been appointed head of the Mauritius Bankers Association, replacing Aisha Timol, lexpress.mu reported. Essoo will assume the role April 1.

* Fitch Ratings said Jacob Zuma's resignation as South African president reduces the risk of "policy paralysis" in the country, but uncertainty persists over whether his successor, Cyril Ramaphosa, will be able to implement measures aimed at significantly improving economic growth and fiscal policy.

* Malusi Gigaba's position as South Africa's finance minister is among those that could be affected by new President Cyril Ramaphosa's expected cabinet shakeup next week, insiders told Bloomberg News.

* The South African government's decision to increase the rate of value-added tax and reduce spending was a welcome step, Ravi Bhatia a director in S&P Global Ratings' sovereign analyst group, told Reuters. Dondo Mogajane, the director general of the National Treasury, said S&P, Fitch Ratings, and Moody's had all privately stated their approval of the measure. The decision comes as Moody's prepares to publish its review for possible downgrade of the country's ratings on or before March 23, the newswire noted.

* The Gauteng Division of South Africa's High Court has set aside the findings of Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane that Barclays Africa Group Ltd. unduly benefited from a series of bailouts received by Bankorp, which was acquired by Barclays Africa retail banking unit Absa Bank Ltd. in 1992, during the apartheid era and must repay roughly 1.13 billion South African rand.

* South African insurer Discovery Ltd. plans to integrate its credit card business, which currently operates through a joint venture with FirstRand Ltd. unit First National Bank, into banking unit Discovery Bank Ltd., Moneyweb wrote.

* Capitec Bank Holdings Ltd. CEO Gerrie Fourie said business at the company is "back to normal" weeks after it was accused by Viceroy Research of concealing loan losses and underestimating bad debts, Bloomberg News wrote.

* The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe is requiring lenders to give exporters access to all the foreign currency they obtain from selling goods within 14 days of the money being deposited, as part of efforts to encourage money flows and exports, Bloomberg News reported.

* Standard Chartered Bank Zimbabwe Ltd. is set to shutter at least seven branches as part of a plan to centralize its operations, The Financial Gazette wrote.

* Bank Windhoek Ltd. began trading of the Chinese currency renminbi or yuan notes in Namibia as part of efforts to increase business transactions with the Chinese community, Xinhua wrote.

* Standard Bank Group Ltd. unit Standard Bank Namibia Ltd. appointed Anne Juuko head of corporate and investment banking, replacing Amit Mohan, according to the Namibia Economist. The bank also named Titus Ndove head of public sector and market intelligence.

CENTRAL AFRICA

* The Swiss government imposed sanctions, including travel bans and asset freezes, on 14 allies of Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila amid a political crisis in the African country triggered by Kabila's refusal to step down, Reuters reported.

S&P Global Ratings and S&P Global Market Intelligence are owned by S&P Global Inc.

Sophie Davies and Helen Popper contributed to this report.