* The African Securities Exchanges Association has launched an initiative to connect seven of Africa's largest and most liquid securities exchanges by the first quarter of 2021, Bloomberg News reported. The exchanges are the Bourse de Casablanca SA, JSE Ltd., the Nigerian Stock Exchange, the Stock Exchange of Mauritius Ltd., the Nairobi Securities Exchange PLC, the Egyptian Exchange and Cote d'Ivoire-based West African regional stock exchange Bourse Régionale des Valeurs Mobilières, or BRVM.
* Equity Group Holdings PLC and Atlas Mara Ltd. have yet to sign detailed transaction agreements regarding a deal that will see the Kenyan banking group issue shares to the London-listed financial services group in exchange for certain banking assets in four African countries. Equity Group said the binding term sheet agreement it signed with Atlas Mara expired without a final deal in place. Both firms are still engaged in talks over the matter and aim to reach mutually acceptable conditions early this year.
* Kenya-based mortgage lender HF Group Plc is carrying out an internal corporate restructuring process that will involve the transfer of the business, investments and liabilities of unit HF Development & Investment Ltd. to another subsidiary, HFC Ltd. The move is aimed at cutting the group's losses and boosting liquidity, according to Standard Digital.
* Equity Group, KCB Group PLC, NCBA Group Plc and seven other Kenyan banks have suffered a combined paper loss of 12.7 billion shillings due to their exposure to Kenya Airways PLC, whose share price fell to record lows since the shares were acquired, according to Business Daily Africa. In 2017, the airline issued 2.2 billion shares to the banks to settle its loans of about 17 billion shillings.
* Kenya's High Court is set to hear a 1-billion-shilling dispute over Guardian Bank Ltd.'s acquisition of Guilders International Bank Ltd., Standard Digital reported. The 196-million-shilling deal was reportedly cleared in 1999 but former shareholders of Guilders International claim that the amount was never paid. The case has been adjourned to March 25.
* Ghana intends to adopt the West African Economic and Monetary Union's proposed new "eco" currency but indicated the government's opposition to plans of keeping the new currency pegged to the euro. Ghana, which is not part of the union and has its own currency, supports "a flexible exchange rate regime," adding that adopting the new currency would help remove trade and monetary barriers, cut transaction costs and boost economic activity. The union decided in December to replace its common currency, the CFA franc, with the eco.
* Meanwhile, Nigerian Finance Minister Zainab Ahmed said West African states were unlikely to meet the 2020 deadline for adopting the eco since only Togo had met the criteria for monetary union, Les Dépêches de Brazzaville said.
* The Nigerian central bank is poised to impose new sanctions on banks for failing to meet a new loan-to-deposit ratio, which in September 2019 had been raised to 65%, Business Day reported. Some banks including Zenith Bank PLC, United Bank for Africa PLC and First Bank of Nigeria Ltd. could be fined a combined 499.1 billion naira for a combined deficit of almost 1 trillion naira.
* Malèye Faye took over as head of Senegal-based Banque De Dakar, after four years as managing director of Banque d'Abidjan, Confidientiel Afrique reported.
* Former Guinea-Bissau Prime Minister and current opposition leader Umaro Sissoco Embaló defeated the ruling party's Domingos Simões Pereira, who is also a former prime minister, in the Dec. 29, 2019, election to be the country's president, media outlets including Bloomberg and Reuters reported, citing the electoral commission.
CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN AFRICA
* In a measure aimed at improving transparency, Banco Nacional de Angola will start publishing a table of interest rates offered by commercial banks for saving deposits with a maturity of 30, 60 and 360 days, Macauhub reported. The central bank also said the forecast for the sale of foreign currency at auction in January and February 2020 will be around $500 million.
* Angola's central bank ordered the recapitalization of Banco de Poupança e Crédito SA and Banco Económico SA, after the conclusion of a report started in April, to evaluate the quality of the country's assets. If taken into account the minimum capital requirements, the two banks account for 96% all recapitalization needs in the Angolan banking system, Jornal de Angola reported.
* The Angolan government froze the assets of Isabel dos Santos, the billionaire daughter of former President José Eduardo dos Santos, over allegations that she, her husband Sindika Dokolo and Banco de Fomento Angola SA Chairman Mário Leite da Silva caused the state losses of more than $1 billion, Reuters reported, citing a court document. Financial Afrik also covered.
* Equatorial Guinea's senior public officials, including President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, must declare their assets as part of the IMF's requirements before it grants the country more financial support, Bloomberg reported.
Pádraig Belton and Mariana Aldano contributed to this report.
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