Ghana Cocoa Board (Cocobod) has signed its annual pre-export financing (PXF) facility, this year worth US$1.5bn.

Since 1992/93, Cocobod has obtained an 11-month receivables-backed syndicated loan to enable the company to meet its financing needs for the coming cocoa crop season.

This year’s facility was signed on September 22, and Rabobank, ICBC, MUFG, Natixis, Nedbank and Standard Chartered came in as co-ordinating initial mandated lead arrangers, bookrunners and underwriters, with Ghana International Bank acting as the initial mandated lead arranger. Bank of China, DZ Bank, Intesa SanPaolo and Société Générale joined as senior mandated lead arrangers, while the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (BADEA) and Deutsche Bank joined as mandated lead arrangers.

Coming in as lead arrangers were Ecobank, the OPEC Fund, State Bank of India and SMBC, while Ahli United Bank, Commerzbank, Federated Hermes and Citi joined as arrangers. Absa Bank Ghana, AfrAsia Bank and Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank joined as lead managers.

The size of the facility is US$200mn higher than the last two years, although still lower than the US$1.8bn that Cocobod was able to attract in 2015 and 2016.

Last year, Cocobod hit back at claims it was struggling to attract banks to its annual billion-dollar syndicated loan over Covid-19 uncertainty and unattractive pricing. This season, despite the pandemic, Joseph Aidoo, chief executive of Cocobod, says that the Ghanaian cocoa industry was able to achieve its target of significantly increasing productivity per hectare, leading to the attainment of a record high production.

Cocobod says that this year’s facility was priced at “a competitive interest rate plus Libor of 1.10%, a marked improvement upon last year’s 1.75%”.

Speaking at the signing ceremony of the facility, Aidoo expressed gratitude to the company’s banking partners for their trust in Ghana’s cocoa industry.

“The support we have received from our financial partners has been very consistent and enormous. The management of Cocobod sincerely appreciates your unflinching commitment in these difficult times,” he said.