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SSA news through Sept. 22

EAST AFRICA

* TheCentral Bank of Kenya cut the central bank rate by 50 basis points to 10.0%, partlydue to the decline in the growth of private sector credit. The central banksaid it is closely monitoring the impact on monetary policy and the overalleconomy of a new law capping banks' interest rates.

*Commercial Bank of AfricaLtd. has no plans to cut the 7.5% facilitation fee on its M-Shwariloans, saying the charge is not considered interest and is therefore exemptfrom Kenya's new interest rate cap law, according to the Daily Nation. KCBGroup Ltd., for its part, reduced the rate on its mobile-basedloans M-Pesa to 1.2% per month, the DailyNation reported.

*Meanwhile, Kenyan central bank Governor Patrick Njoroge warned banks againstintroducing new banking products, imposing new transaction fees or even raisingexisting charges without its authorization, Business Daily Africa wrote. Njoroge warned that the central bank will takeaction against banks that disregard its directive.

* Kenyanlenders will see their ROE decline to about 10% from the current average of 18%in the next financial year as they adjust to the new interest rate regime, the Daily Nation wrote,citing George Bodo, head of the financials desk at

* Ajoint study by Kenyan central bank economists Roseline Misati and Ann Kamaucalled on small Kenyan lenders to merge into larger ones, saying it would allowbanks to take more risk in lending and help boost the flow of credit in theeconomy, Business Daily Africa reported.

* TheUgandan Insurance Regulatory Authority published draft rules allowingcommercial banks to sell insurance products in a bid to boost insurancepenetration in Uganda, accordingto the Daily Monitor. Insurancefirms and brokers raised concerns that they could loseemployees to banks due to the rules.  

* TheUgandan central bank has not obtained any request for a change in shareholdingin Crane Bank Ltd., The Observer wrote.Crane Bank owner Sudhir Ruparelia recently confirmed that he is in talks with a"strategic partner" for the purchase of shares in the lender.

WEST AFRICA

* S&P Global Ratings downgraded Nigeria's long-term sovereign credit ratingsto B from B+, saying the Nigerian economy has significantly weakened due tocontraction in the oil and nonoil sectors and a restrictive foreign exchangeregime in the first half.

* The Central Bank of Nigeria kept the monetary policy rate unchangedat 14.0%, the cash reserve ratio at 22.5% and the liquidity ratio at 30.0%. TheGhanaian central bank also maintainedits monetary policy rate, at 26%.

* Morocco-based SAHAM Finances acquireda 53.6% stake in ContinentalReinsurance Plc through a consortium led by the ECP fund II. Theacquisition allows SAHAM Finances to consolidate its development in Africa. SAHAMalso acquiredMauritius-based Sun Insurance Co. Ltd. for an undisclosed amount, Reutersreported.

* Ivory Coast dismissed reports that it has found a buyerfor its stake in Banque de l'Habitat de Côte d'Ivoire, after Tunisia-basedBanque de l'Habitatrecently saidit was acquiring a 51.6% stake in the Ivorian company, Jeune Afrique wrote.

SOUTHERN AFRICA

*Banco BPI SAshareholders voted to remove a 20% cap on the bank's voting rights to allowSpain-based CaixaBankSA topush through with its full takeover of the lender. Banco BPI offered to sell a2% stake in unit Banco de FomentoAngola SA to Angolan mobile operator Unitel, indirectly controlledby influential shareholder Isabel dos Santos, to gain support for the removalof the voting rights cap. The stake would raise Unitel'sholding in theAngolan bank to 51%.  

* TheSouth African Reserve Bank kept its repurchase rate unchanged at 7.0% per annum after seeing improvementsin the inflation forecast and a weak domestic economic outlook. The centralbank noted that headline consumer price inflation declined to within its targetrange of between 3% and 6% in August, in line with expectations.

*Moody's said it could downgrade South Africa's sovereign credit rating if thecountry's economic growth fell below the 0.2% forecast for 2016, Reuters reported.Moody's analyst Kristin Lindow said the rating agency does not expect toupgrade the country in the short term, given the negative outlook on its Baa2rating.  

*Atlas Mara Ltd.co-founder Bob Diamond confirmed that American private equity firm had backed outof a consortium with AtlasMerchant Capital LLC that aimed to acquire 's stake in , according to Bloomberg News. Diamond saidCarlyle's withdrawal was due to various reasons, including regulators not beingkeen on an offer from a private equity firm.

* SouthAfrican health insurer DiscoveryLtd. will have to wait for at least two years before it is granteda license to set up a retail bank, ITWeb reported.A Sunday Times report noted that theinsurance firm has set aside 1 billion rand for the digital infrastructureneeded for the new bank.

*FirstRand Ltd. Chairman Laurie Dippenaar said South African lenders willeventually audit politically exposed individuals, even if the government doesnot pass into law a bill that would require them to do so, BusinessDay wrote.

*Botswana's National Development Bank is seeking a cash injection of some 400million pula from the government to keep the business afloat as its stock ofnonperforming loans continues to rise, Mmegireported.

* TheMozambican central bank's monetary policy committee postponed its next meetingto Oct. 21 from September without citing reasons, Reuters reported.

Sophie Davies contributed to thisreport.