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SSA news through Dec. 13

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SSA news through Dec. 13

EAST AFRICA

* Kenya-based NIC Group Plc and Commercial Bank of Africa Ltd. will begin talks over a possible merger, which could create one of the largest financial services companies in East Africa.

* Kenya's central bank and the Kenya Deposit Insurance Corp. accepted KCB Group PLC's binding offer to acquire Imperial Bank Ltd.

* Consolidated Bank of Kenya Ltd. is seeking either a foreign or local investor to inject 3.5 billion shillings into the lender, Reuters reported.

* Ugandan MPs investigating whether the Bank of Uganda followed the law in closing seven commercial banks have rejected a call by president Yoweri Museveni to conduct the inquiry behind closed doors, Daily Monitor reported.

* Tanzania's central bank plans to further review bureau de change regulations to erase remaining loopholes that some bureaus are still using for illegal foreign-currency trading and money laundering, Daily News reported.

WEST AFRICA

* First Atlantic Bank Ltd. and Energy Commercial Bank Ghana Ltd. signed a memorandum of understanding for their potential merger according to Citi Business News. The potential deal comes after Energy Commercial Bank said it failed to raise the minimum amount required for its proposed IPO.

* Ghana's central bank said it will likely reduce interest rates in 2019, likely in March if the trend of falling inflation holds, Pulse reported.

* Agricultural Development Bank Ltd. will seek shareholder approval to raise at least 450 million Ghanaian cedis through a renounceable rights issue to meet the minimum capital requirement set by Ghana's central bank, Joy Business reported. Meanwhile, the bank reportedly is looking to delist itself from the Ghana Stock Exchange due to an ownership change.

* Ghana canceled a plan to merge Agricultural Development Bank with National Investment Bank Ltd., as the latter is having financial difficulties and has to be handled "differently," Bloomberg News reported.

* First National Bank Ghana Ltd.'s parent FirstRand Ltd. agreed to provide it with funding to help it meet the Bank of Ghana's new minimum capital requirement for banks.

* Umar Garba Dambatta, executive vice chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission, said the $8.1 billion dispute between South African telecommunications firm MTN Group Ltd. and Nigeria's central bank is being resolved and will be over "very soon," Reuters reported.

* Diamond Bank PLC's shareholders are urging Nigerian regulators to prevent the loss of their investments after a letter supposedly written by former Chairman Oluseyi Bickerstheth claimed that directors fired from the lender pushed back against corporate governance abuse allegedly carried out by some of the bank's executives, including CEO Uzoma Dozie, Business Post reported.

* Skye Bank PLC's former chairman, Tunde Ayeni, is in the custody of the Nigerian Economic and Financial Crimes Commission for questioning related to the collapse of the lender, Business Post wrote.

* Morufu Apampa resigned as managing director and CEO of SUNU Assurances Nigeria PLC, effective Nov. 30.

SOUTHERN AFRICA

* South Africa's central bank will likely wait until May 2019 before it raises interest rates again, according to a Reuters poll.

* Absa Group Ltd. is targeting an increase in its normalized group return on equity to between 18% and 20% by 2021 from 16.5% in 2017.

* FirstRand CEO Alan Pullinger said the South African lender is looking to follow U.S. online retailer Amazon's lead by launching a digital offering that will offer customers a wide range of services such as insurance and car license renewals, Bloomberg News reported.

* Development Bank of Southern Africa's board elected Mark Swilling to become chairman of the lender, replacing Jabu Moleketi, whose term will expire at the end of 2018.

* Land & Agricultural Development Bank of South Africa CEO Tshokolo Petrus Nchocho resigned Dec. 7, effective immediately. CFO Bennie van Rooy will serve as acting CEO until a permanent successor is found.

* African National Congress Limpopo Treasurer General Danny Msiza resigned shortly after court papers showed that he benefited from alleged fraud at VBS Mutual Bank, News24 reported.

* The Bank of Mozambique cut its benchmark interest rate to 14.25% from 15%, Journal du Cameroun reported.

* Mozambique's central bank has signed a contract with Euronet for the provision of software for the country's interbank payment system, breaking ties with Portuguese company Bizfirst a month after a massive systems outage, O País reported.

* Mozambique's Moza Banco SA is to get a capital injection of 3 billion meticais, equivalent to roughly $50 million, in the coming days due to the entry of the Arise investment fund into the bank's share capital, Jornal Notícias reported, citing Carta.

* Angolan banks will have to open separate accounts and apply current interest rates for deposits as part of an amnesty for the repatriation of overseas funds, Expansão reported.

* Banque des Mascareignes Ltée. named Abdelwafi Atif CEO and Sangeetha Ramkelawon deputy CEO, Financial Afrik reported.

* First Capital Bank Ltd.'s board approved the unbundling of the lender's noncore banking properties into a separate entity to be listed on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange.

Helen Popper and Sophie Davies contributed to this report.