ACCRA (Reuters) – Ghana’s cocoa regulator signed a $1.8 billion loan with international banks on Thursday to finance purchases for the 2015/16 season, its spokesman said.
Ghana is the world’s second-biggest producer of cocoa and this year’s syndicated loan, signed in Paris by some 23 lenders, will be used to purchase around 850,000 tonnes, Cocobod spokesman Noah Amenyah said.
Lead arrangers for the facility, the largest soft commodity deal in sub-Saharan Africa, were Barclays Bank, Commerzbank, Deutsche Bank, French investment bank Natixis and Japan’s Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation.
Amenyah said the loan was oversubscribed by 44 percent to $2.6 billion but Cocobod took only $1.8 billion as originally planned at 1.19 percent over eleven months. Cocobod raised $1.7 billion from a similar syndication a year ago.
“Once again, the syndication was oversubscribed and it shows the increasing confidence of the lenders in Cocobod’s management and its operations,” he said.
Inflows from the loan, to be drawn in early October, are expected to help boost the central bank’s reserves in support of the local cedi currency, which is currently down around 26 percent, Amenyah said.
Deputy chief executive James Kutsoati said Cocobod hopes to open the new season on Oct 2 after closing the current season at the end of September.
Ghana is experiencing a poor cocoa harvest this year with output down 23 percent from last year due to harsh weather and poor farming practices.
Purchases hit the 700,000 tonne-mark in late August and it appears the country will miss its revised 750,000 tonne-target as the crop year draws to a close this month.
(By Kwasi Kpodo, Reuters)