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SSA news through Dec. 15

* Private equity firm LeapFrog Investments Ltd. intends to raise $800 million for a fund that will invest in stakes in certain African insurers, lenders and payment companies.

EAST AFRICA

* The Bank of Uganda reduced the central bank rate to 12% from 13%, saying there is scope to continue easing monetary policy as core inflation is forecast to remain around the medium-term target of 5% over the next 12 months.

* Penalties imposed by the Central Bank of Kenya on erring commercial banks reached 40 million shillings in 2015, up from 16 million shillings a year ago, Business Daily Africa reported. The rise reflects the increased oversight of the banking sector since Patrick Njoroge took over the central bank in June last year.

* Stanbic Bank Tanzania Ltd. relaunched its private banking services, Daily News reported.

WEST AFRICA

* The establishment of a specialized company to acquire nonperforming loans of Nigerian banks would be a significant and credit-positive measure to ease growing asset quality problems in the local banking sector, according to Fitch Ratings. The agency's statement followed press reports that the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corp. established a joint committee to look into setting up a new bad bank that will acquire NPLs at Nigerian lenders.

* Nigerian lawmaker John Enoh is sponsoring a bill aimed at allowing the country's central bank to set exchange rates itself and repeal existing legislation under which the rates are set by counterparties, Bloomberg News wrote. The draft law, which Enoh said will be put to a public hearing in 2017, would let the central bank freely defend the naira, which has dropped about 37% against the U.S. dollar since its peg was abolished in June.

* Ghanaian opposition leader Nana Akufo-Addo was declared the winner of the recent presidential election in the country, BBC News reported. Incumbent President John Mahama conceded defeat after the Electoral Commission announced the result.

* Agricultural Development Bank Ltd. completed its protracted IPO with investor take-up of 84.9% of the shares on offer. Investors subscribed for 122,937,718 shares at 2.65 Ghanaian cedis apiece, generating proceeds of 325.8 million cedis.

SOUTHERN AFRICA

* Banco BPI SA shareholders greenlighted the proposed sale of a 2% stake in Banco de Fomento Angola SA to Angolan telecoms firm Unitel.

* S&P Global Ratings took various ratings actions on a number of South African insurers and reinsurers, including Sanlam Ltd. and General Reinsurance Africa Ltd., following the Dec. 2 lowering of South Africa's long-term local-currency rating.

* The South African Reserve Bank imposed fines of 2 million rand on Société Générale SA's Johannesburg branch and 10 million rand on Barclays Plc unit Absa Bank Ltd. for weaknesses in their control measures against money laundering and the financing of terrorism. The two banks are cooperating with the central bank and have taken measures to address their control weaknesses.

* Standard Bank Group Ltd. filed an affidavit in the High Court in the South African capital of Pretoria, asking for protection from political interference by the government, Business Day reported. The bank reportedly asked the court to rule that no member of the country's Cabinet may interfere in banking relationships, amid controversy surrounding South African banks' decision to cut ties with businesses owned by the Gupta family.

* Sanlam Ltd. and majority-owned unit Santam Insurance Ltd. will increase their stake in Morocco-based Saham Finances SA by a further 16.6% to 46.6% for $329 million, plus transaction costs. Sanlam and Santam first acquired a 30% stake in Saham Finances in February.

* Rand Merchant Investment Holdings Ltd. will acquire a 29.9% stake in U.K.-based Hastings Group Holdings Plc.

* Letshego Holdings Ltd. appointed Enos Banda chairman of its board. Banda serves as executive chairman of African Bank Investments Ltd. and co-chairman of the South African Chamber of Commerce in the U.S.

* Banco de Moçambique Governor Rogério Zandamela said the central bank injected nearly 8 billion meticais into Moza Banco SA to prevent the country's financial system from collapsing, Jornal de Negócios reported. Zandamela said the money is expected to be repaid to the government once Moza Banco is either sold or recapitalized.

* The Mozambican central bank kept its benchmark lending rate at 23.25%, citing expectations that inflation will fall, Reuters reported.

* The IMF finished its mission visit in Mozambique, initiated Dec. 1, and concluded that the country's outlook remains challenging, with the 2016 projected growth now at 3.4%, compared to 6.6% in 2015. The fund said it held "constructive" discussions on a possible IMF arrangement for Mozambique, but stressed that additional policy adjustments are required for the country to secure a new IMF-supported program.

* Separately, the World Bank said Mozambique's economic outlook is uncertain as it faces an ongoing economic downturn, complicated by the effects of the discovery of $1.4 billion in previously undisclosed debt earlier this year. The institution forecasts Mozambique's GDP growth to reach 3.6% in 2016.

* As expected, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe reduced banks' cash withdrawal charges, adopting a proportional pricing model to replace the fixed charges currently in place. The new applicable charges put in place are a maximum of 1% of an amount withdrawn at an ATM and 1.25% for over-the-counter withdrawals.

* The Bank of Botswana's monetary policy committee maintained the bank rate at 5.5%, citing a positive outlook for price stability, with the inflation forecast falling within the central bank's medium-term objective range of 3% to 6%.

CENTRAL AFRICA

* The Gabonese government commenced the restructuring of three state-owned banks, Agence Ecofin reported. The government is looking into the option of placing the healthy assets of Banque de l'Habitat du Gabon, Postbank and the Banque Gabonaise de Développement under the country's own Caisse des dépôts et consignation, effectively making CDC the only public bank in Gabon.

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

Mariana Aldano and Sophie Davies contributed to this report.