The Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) has secured a US$1.5 billion pre-export finance facility from a conglomerate of international banks to purchase cocoa beans in the 2012/2013 cocoa season.

The facility is currently the largest non-oil deal in sub-Saharan Africa and was made possible by??31 banks from 17 countries in Europe, American and?Asia. Some of the banks, including Standard Chartered Bank, Standard Bank and SG-SSB Bank, have local presence in the country.
The Ghana International Bank Plc acted as the initially mandated lead arranger (IMLA) with Standard Chartered Bank as the facility agent.
The Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Dr Kwabena Duffour, said at the signing ceremony in Accra that the deal was another vote of confidence passed on the Ghanaian economy by global financial markets, especially the contributing banks.
Although the 2012/2013 cocoa trade-finance facility is US$500 million lower than the previous 2011/2012 cocoa season?s, it comes at a time growth in Europe, America and Asia is sluggish and financial institutions in those areas are distressed??because of funding.
?This year?s arrangement is not only opportune for?Ghana?but a reflection of the confidence that you (the contributing banks) have in the government and the economy,? Dr Duffour said.
He emphasised that the deal was not backed by government guarantee ?but by the produce it seeks to support.
?This has been made possible by the hardworking cocoa farmers who always ensure that the produce is available for sale to pay back the loan,? the minister added.
COCOBOD has since 1993 resorted to cocoa trade-financing arrangements to purchase cocoa beans on annual basis.
The amount has risen from US$140 million in 1993 to peak at US$2 billion in the just ended 2011/2012 cocoa season.
The Chief Executive Officer of COCOBOD, Dr Anthony Fofie, said at the ceremony that the board had completed repaying the 2011/2012 syndicated loan facility despite ?the challenges posed by the low prices of cocoa beans observed during the greater part of that cocoa season.?
He thanked the contributing banks, often referred to as ?the club of banks?, for successfully arranging, managing and underwriting the facility.
?It must have taken some skill to coordinate the activities of the different loan committees of 13 banks of equal standing,? he said and further pledged the board?s commitment to using the funds for the intended purpose.
The Director of Corporate and Investment Banking at Stanbic Bank which is the local unit of Standard Bank, Mr Kwamina Asomaning, told the Daily Graphic that his outfit was happy the deal had gone through successfully.
?Ghana?is our key country in Africa and we at Standard Bank are focused on supporting sectors in the country that have a direct bearing on economic development,? he said, explaining that the Standard Bank?s decision to participate in the deal was informed by the success story of?Ghana?s cocoa sector over the years.

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