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SSA news through Aug. 30

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SSA news through Aug. 30

* U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May pledged to make £4 billion in investments in African markets after Brexit during her three-day tour of the continent, according to BBC News. German Chancellor Angela Merkel also began her own tour to Senegal, Ghana and Nigeria and is expected to sign several economic cooperation agreements, Agence Ecofin wrote.

EAST AFRICA

* The Kenyan parliament voted against removing a cap on commercial interest rates charged by banks, negating a condition set by the IMF to renew its standby arrangement with the country, Reuters reported. Finance Minister Henry Rotich had proposed to repeal the interest rate cap in June.

* Kenyan lawmaker Jude Njomo withdrew an amendment to the country's Finance Bill that would have forced banks and other financial firms to set aside at least 10% of their loan portfolios for lending to small and medium-sized businesses, Business Daily Africa reported.

* Kenya's Centum Investment Co. Ltd. completed the sale of its 73.35% stake in Nairobi-based GenAfrica Asset Managers to a fund managed by U.S.-based Kuramo Capital Management LLC for an undisclosed sum.

* Equity Group Holdings PLC unit Finserve plans to work with financial services providers and businesses to combine payment options in East and Central Africa into a single payment platform to expand in the region's e-commerce and remittances markets, Reuters reported, citing Finserve Managing Director Jack Ngare. The Kenyan financial technology firm is also looking to expand to other African countries beyond East and Central Africa, such as South Africa and Nigeria.

* Bank of Kigali CEO Diane Karusisi said the Rwanda-based lender expects its cross-listing on the Nairobi Securities Exchange to take place before the end of 2018, Reuters reported.

* The Bank of Tanzania reduced its discount rate to 7% from 9% to help boost credit growth, Reuters reported.

WEST AFRICA

* The Central Bank of Nigeria ordered South African telecommunications firm MTN Group Ltd. and four banks to return roughly $8.13 billion it says MTN illegally transferred abroad in violation of foreign exchange regulations, Reuters reported. The banks, including Stanbic IBTC Holdings PLC and Diamond Bank PLC, were also fined a combined 5.65 billion Nigerian naira, as they also purportedly breached foreign exchange rules for failing to verify whether MTN had met all the requirements for the transfer.

* Access Bank PLC reported group profit attributable to equity holders of the bank of 34.83 billion Nigerian naira for the period ended June 30, compared to 45.26 billion naira a year ago.

* Consolidated Bank Ghana Ltd. will lay off around 1,700 employees by the end of September, Joy Online reported. Of the figure, 700 are Beige Bank employees, while the remainder are from the other four banks whose banking licenses were revoked by the Bank of Ghana in early August. Consolidated Bank's management told the bank's staff to reapply for their jobs, Classfmonline reported.

* The method used to dissolve uniBank (Ghana) Ltd. could cost the Ghanaian government more than 4.3 billion cedis, Joy Online reported, citing a leaked report from auditing firm KPMG. The bank's collapse could also threaten the jobs of 3,692 employees.

* Caroline Otoo, secretary of the Bank of Ghana's board, was appointed head of the new ethics and investigative office as part of an ongoing restructuring at the central bank, Joy Online wrote.

* India's Bank of Baroda plans to sell its subsidiary in Ghana as it seeks to rationalize its overseas operations, insiders told Mint.

* Investment firm Databank Financial Services Ltd. said it is not merging with any Ghanaian commercial bank, noting that the clarification was necessary as many are misinterpreting the company's partnerships with commercial banks as part of the ongoing consolidation taking place in Ghana's banking industry, Joy Online reported.

* Ecobank Ghana Ltd. has exceeded the Ghanaian central bank's 400 million cedis minimum capital requirement by 16.6 million cedis after it transferred 190 million cedis of surplus capital to its stated capital, Pulse Ghana reported.

* Zenith Bank PLC CEO Peter Amangbo was questioned by anti-graft investigators over a series of suspicious transactions allegedly carried out by the lender on behalf of the oil-producing Nigerian state of Rivers, insiders told Premium Times.

SOUTHERN AFRICA

* A London court rejected a request by Angola's sovereign wealth fund to extend a global freezing order against its Swiss asset manager Quantum Global, which expired Aug. 22, Reuters reported.

* S&P Global Ratings downgraded Zambia's long-term foreign- and local-currency sovereign credit ratings to B- from B, with a stable outlook, citing higher fiscal deficits, faster debt accumulation and low wealth levels.

* Fitch Ratings affirmed the long-term foreign- and local-currency issuer default ratings of Lesotho at B+, and revised the outlook to negative from stable due to continued pressures on the African country's public and external finances.

* Stanbic Bank Zambia Ltd. launched Stanbic Insurance Brokers Zambia, which will provide insurance products and offer risk management advice, life and pensions products, health insurance consultancy and claims service expertise, FAnews reported.

* Mozambique's central bank lowered its key lending rate to 15.00% from 15.75%. The regulator also raised the reserve requirement for liabilities in foreign currency by 500 basis points to 27.00%, effective Sept. 7, citing apparent volatility in the foreign exchange market.

* Bison Capital Financial Holdings of Hong Kong acquired 48% of Mozambique's Banco Mais after injecting €12 million into the bank, Macauhub wrote.

* Emmerson Mnangagwa was sworn in as Zimbabwe's president after the country's Constitutional Court ruled that the opposition had failed to prove its allegation that the results of the July elections were rigged, news outlets including Bloomberg and The Washington Post covered.

* A court in South Africa ordered four bank accounts holding a combined 43.8 million South African rand to be frozen after the money was identified by provisional liquidators of Namibia's Small & Medium Enterprises Bank Ltd. to be part of funds suspected to have been embezzled from the lender and sent to South Africa, The Namibian reported.

* The Johannesburg Stock Exchange, together with South Africa's National Treasury and a multi-stakeholder group, has launched the country's first electronic trading platform for government bonds.

CENTRAL AFRICA

* Gabon signed an economic cooperation agreement with Singapore to take measures to prevent tax evasion and double taxation, Agence Ecofin noted.

This S&P Global Market Intelligence news article may contain information about credit ratings issued by S&P Global Ratings, a separately managed division of S&P Global. Descriptions in this news article were not prepared by S&P Global Ratings.

Pádraig Belton and Mariana Aldano contributed to this report.