The Ghana Cocoa Board (GCB) has secured a US$650 million loan to purchase cocoa for the 2003/2004 cocoa season. The facility, the highest in the history of the Board and repayable within a year, was arranged by four leading banks - Barclays Bank PLC, Royal Bank of Scotland PLC, Standard Chartered Bank and NATEXIS Banques Populaires.
The loan is the 11th successive loan facility provided by the participating international financial banks in the syndication. A similar syndication arrangement last year raised an amount of $420M and $300m in 2001.
The facility has been fully underwritten and will be used to buy cocoa beans for the 2003/2004 season by pre-financing firm and fixed-price contracts with buyers in OECD countries.
"Following a successful syndication the deal was 45 per cent oversubscribed from the original $500 million sought," said the bank group.
At a signing ceremony in London at Ghana's High Commission representatives of the 28 banks in this year's syndication were reported as praising the Ghana Cocoa Board for promptly honouring their loan obligations over the years. Ghana is currently the world's second largest cocoa producer behind the Ivory Coast.
Dominic Bruynseels, managing director of Barclays Africa is reported by the Commission as welcoming the participation of new banks in the syndication loan facility including two local banks, namely ECOBANK and SSB BANK. He said that Barclays Bank was proud to be associated with Ghana for the past 80 years, and to, among other things, finance cocoa production at the local farm level.
Since it started in 1947 the Cocobod - composed of government nominees, a representative from each of the workers of COCOBOD and the Ghana Cocoa, Coffee and Sheanut Farmers Association - has been pursuing a liberalisation policy. Sales and distribution of cocoa inputs have been privatised and Cocobod is currently encouraging, it claims, private-sector companies to enter into the inputs-distribution system to compete with the Farmers Cocoa Inputs Company, which is already operating.
Cocobod expects that production will be increased to 500,000 tonnes by 2004/2005.