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SSA news through Jan. 17

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SSA news through Jan. 17

EAST AFRICA

* The Bank of Tanzania transferred the assets and liabilities of Bank M Tanzania PLC to Azania Bank Ltd., Reuters reported, citing Deputy Governor Bernard Kibesse. The central bank placed Bank M under administration in August 2018 after it failed to meet liquidity requirements and maturing obligations.

* Commercial Bank of Africa Ltd. made a cash offer of 1.4 billion shillings to acquire Jamii Bora Bank Ltd., Financial Afrik and Daily Nation reported. CBA is currently in merger talks with NIC Group PLC, and a tie-up of the three banks will have combined total assets of approximately 457 billion shillings.

* Sanlam Kenya PLC CEO Patrick Tumbo said the company would not cut jobs as it merges with Morocco's Saham Finances SA and trade under one name, Business Daily Africa reported. Separately, Tumbo said Sanlam Kenya will take legal action against the directors of companies that defaulted on 1.15 billion shillings worth of corporate bonds it issued, Daily Nation reported.

* Commercial Bank of Ethiopia has partnered with WorldRemit to launch the lender's first mobile money transfer service to Ethiopia.

* Uganda's High Court ordered DFCU Bank Ltd. to pay former Crane Bank Ltd. employee Shakil Pathan Ismail 110 million shillings for money unlawfully deducted from his salary, the Daily Monitor reported. DFCU took over Crane Bank after it was liquidated in 2017.

WEST AFRICA

* Access Bank PLC will expand to three more African countries this year as part of its five-year strategic plan, Footprint to Africa reported, citing the bank's executive director, Victor Etokwu. The lender also intends to have a franchise in Hong Kong before the end of June.

* The merger between Access Bank and Diamond Bank PLC has received an approval in principle from the Nigerian central bank and the Securities and Exchange Commission, Premium Times reported. Access Bank may change its corporate identity upon the completion of its merger with Diamond Bank in June, according to Business Post Nigeria.

* Access Bank is looking to issue approximately 15 billion Nigerian naira in green bonds in the first quarter, sources told Bloomberg News. The potential issuance will be Nigeria's first corporate green bond to fund environmental and climate-related projects.

* Nedbank Ltd. COO Mfundo Nkuhlu said Togo-based Ecobank Transnational Inc. is not under investigation in Nigeria, Reuters reported. His comment comes after reports that Nigeria's accountancy regulator was probing Ecobank, in which Nedbank owns 21%.

* Heritage Bank Ltd. expects to receive fresh capital from unnamed investors, ThisDay reported, citing CEO Ifie Sekibo, who also said the bank would float its shares in the near future but not this year.

* First Bank of Nigeria Ltd. injected $72.5 million in fresh capital into First Bank Ghana Ltd., Business Post Nigeria reported.

* VFD Group sold its stake in Nigeria's NEM Insurance Plc following a dispute with the insurer's management over its strategy, Vanguard reported. The stake was valued at 1.6 billion naira. Meanwhile, Senegal-based Advanced Finance & Investment Group LLC acquired a 29.9% stake in NEM Insurance, making it the largest shareholder in the Nigerian insurer.

* A Nigerian court affirmed the dismissal of Rabi Ibrahim from Unity Bank PLC after her involvement in a 306.2 million naira fraud, Premium Times reported. Ibrahim allegedly used her password to clear unauthorized transactions from three accounts without the consent of the account holders.

SOUTHERN AFRICA

* The South African Reserve Bank kept its benchmark repurchase rate unchanged at 6.75%. Meanwhile, SARB Governor Lesetja Kganyago stressed that the central bank's mandate was to protect the value of the rand "in the interest of balance and sustainable growth," and that changing it would mean amending the constitution, Reuters reported. Kganyago's comment comes after the ruling political party African National Congress said the regulator's monetary policy decisions should also take into account job creation and economic growth.

* The SARB, along with other authorities in the country, launched a consultation paper on regulating cryptocurrencies. Comments on the report will be accepted until Feb. 15.

* Arrie Rautenbach, CEO of Absa Group Ltd.'s retail and business banking unit, told Bloomberg News that the group plans to boost its share of South Africa's housing market to 28% from 20% in the next five years and to increase lending across the unit in a bid to regain its share of the mortgage market.

* Angolan central bank governor José de Lima Massano told Bloomberg News that the regulator could shutter more banks if they fail to meet new minimum capital requirements amid an asset quality review. Massano said some of the country's remaining 27 banks may be required to increase their capital "given the magnitude of their loan portfolios and the deterioration of [their] credit quality."

* Two Angolan banks started the year with new leadership; António de Assis de Almeida replaced Carlos José da Silva as chairman of Banco Millennium Atlântico SA and Pedro Cruchinho succeeded Sanjay Bhasin as CEO of Banco Económico SA, Expansão reported.

* The U.K. Financial Conduct Authority confirmed that it scrapped a criminal probe into Credit Suisse Group AG over its alleged involvement in Mozambique's $2 billion hidden loans scandal, Reuters reported.

* Zimbabwe will launch a new currency in the next 12 months to address the crisis it is facing due to a shortage of U.S. dollars, according to Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube, The Herald reported.

* Old Mutual Investment Group bought a 4.96% stake in FMB Capital Holdings PLC for 8.54 billion Malawian kwachas, The Times of Malawi reported.

* Zitulele Luke Combi was appointed independent chairman of the boards of PSG Group Ltd. and its unit PSG Financial Services Ltd., effective Jan. 11.

CENTRAL AFRICA

* The 55-member African Union flagged "serious doubts" about the accuracy of the results of the Democratic Republic of the Congo's recent presidential election, and has called for the suspension of the vote's proclamation, Bloomberg reported. Opposition leader Martin Fayulu has claimed that the results were rigged in favor of opponent Felix Tshisekedi.

Pádraig Belton and Mariana Aldano contributed to this report.