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SSA news through Jan. 19


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SSA news through Jan. 19

* Former Barclays Plc CEO Bob Diamond is considering options for his sub-Saharan Africa-focused investment company, Atlas Mara Ltd., which has lost about 80% of its market value since listing more than three years ago, insiders told Bloomberg News. The options include going private or merging with another African financial institution.

* Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd.'s Fairfax Africa Holdings Corp. has added underwriters for its planned IPO.


* Armando Morales, the IMF's representative in Kenya, said the country's economic growth rate is expected to slow this year due to the potential impact of the interest rate cap on credit growth, but is likely to remain within the 5% to 6% range of the past five years, Reuters reported.

* Kenya has mandated Standard Chartered, Standard Bank, Citigroup and Rand Merchant Bank to lead a loan totaling up to $1 billion, insiders told Reuters.

* Silkroad International Bank, the first Chinese overseas commercial bank set up under the "One Belt, One Road" initiative, officially started business in Djibouti, the capital city of the Republic of Djibouti, reported.

* The government of Tanzania plans to reduce the number of pension funds in the country by merging them to reduce the costs of pension benefits and operating costs, Daily News reported.


* Cameroon-based Afriland First Bank is opening a subsidiary in Burkina Faso, according to its president Paul Fokam, Financial Afrik reported. The bank is present in seven other countries at the moment.

* The Central Bank of Nigeria issued a circular to banks and other financial institutions, warning against the use of virtual currencies, including bitcoin.

* FirstRand Ltd. Chairman Laurie Dippenaar said deal opportunities in Nigeria are cropping up as the country struggles with the decline in oil prices and the devaluation of the naira, Bloomberg News wrote. Dippenaar said the bank would prefer acquiring a company with a big branch network but is unlikely to purchase any of Nigeria's biggest lenders.

* Letshego Holdings Ltd. acquired afb Ghana Plc, a nonbank financial services firm. Afb Ghana is licensed by the Central Bank of Ghana and has a customer base of more than 60,000.

* The Bank of Ghana is poised to set the new minimum capital requirement for banks at 200 million cedis or 300 million cedis, insiders told Joy Business.

* Banque Marocaine du Commerce Exterieur -SA aims to increase the position of its subsidiary, Bank of Africa Ghana, in Ghana's banking sector, Financial Afrik said. It has been present in the country since 2011 and has 25 branches.

* Gambian President Yahya Jammeh declared a 90-day state of emergency, due to the "unprecedented and extraordinary amount of interference" in the Dec. 1, 2016, election and the Supreme Court's inability to hear his petition against the presidential election results, Bloomberg News reported. Jammeh lost to Adama Barrow in the election. Barrow was sworn in Jan. 19.

* Togo announced a preliminary agreement for a new 10-year $238 million loan with the IMF, Jeune Afrique reported.


* A series of bailouts that Barclays Africa Group Ltd. unit Absa Bank Ltd. received from the South African Reserve Bank during a period that included the last few years of the apartheid-era may have violated the country's constitution, according to a preliminary investigation by South Africa's public prosecutor, Reuters reported, citing a report in Mail & Guardian. If the findings of the investigation into bailouts of Bankorp — which was acquired by Absa Bank in 1992 between 1985 and 1995 are upheld, Barclays Africa may have to shell out 2.25 billion South African rand in repayments.

* Dubai private equity firm Abraaj Group would consider acquiring a stake in Barclays Africa Group if majority owner Barclays Plc were to make it available, CEO Arif Naqvi told Bloomberg News. Barclays has said it intends to sell down its stake in Barclays Africa to less than 20% over the next few years.

* S&P Global Ratings downgraded Mozambique's long- and short-term foreign-currency sovereign credit ratings to SD/D from CC/C after the country failed to make a $59.8 million interest payment on a bond that was issued as part of a restructuring of a state-guaranteed loan to fishing company Ematum. The country's long-term local-currency rating was affirmed at B-/B, and the outlook on the rating was revised to stable from negative.

* South Africa's National Credit Regulator applied for a court declaratory order against Standard Bank Group Ltd. to obtain legal clarity on the lender's right to transfer funds from a consumer's savings account to settle outstanding debt without permission, Times Live reported.

* Carlyle Group LP agreed to acquire South Africa-based Global Credit Ratings, Africa's largest rating agency by customers, in a deal showing how private equity firms are seeking to capitalize on the need for financial institutions to understand local counterparties' credit risk, the Financial Times reported.


* CaixaBank SA will sell off all or part of the 48.1% stake in Banco de Fomento Angola SA that it will acquire when it completes the planned buyout of Portugal's Banco BPI SA. In the prospectus for its offer for BPI shares that it does not own, the Spanish bank said it had received a nonbinding recommendation from the ECB to gradually reduce its stake in the Angolan bank "within a reasonable timeframe."

* Banco Económico SA, created from the failed Banco Espírito Santo Angola, ended 2015 with a €57 million net profit, consolidating a positive transition after the state intervention in BESA, Jornal de Negócios reported. It is the first accounting report presented by the bank, formally established in October 2014.

* IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde has rejected press reports that she put pressure on Central African heads of state to devalue the CFA franc during an extraordinary summit in Yaoundé on Dec. 23, 2016, Jeune Afrique reported.

* Lucas Abaga Nchama is preparing to step down at the end of January as governor of the Bank of Central African States after seven years, Jeune Afrique reported.

* The Democratic Republic of the Congo's central bank doubled its base interest rate to 14% in a bid to contain inflation, Reuters reported. Inflation for December 2016 stood at 11.2%, well over the bank's target of 4.2%.

Pádraig Belton and Mariana Aldano contributed to this report.

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