Ghana Cocoa Board (Cocobod) has signed its annual receivables-backed pre-export facility in Paris, having managed to raise US$900mn via initial bookrunners Natixis, Société Générale and Standard Chartered. Ghana International Bank also joined as a further mandated lead arranger, ahead of the general syndication phase.

As expected the facility was significantly oversubscribed, with the initial financing request for US$780mn rising to US$900mn. The borrower has been tapping the market for funds for the last 15 years, and this is the largest facility raised to date. Last year’s financing was signed oversubscribed at US$810mn.

Such was the appetite for the facility, 24 of the banks had to scale back their commitments despite the deal still being signed at the increased amount of US$900mn.

Pricing on the deal also tumbled from last year’s 20 basis points. It has been reported to have fallen to around 16bp. This compares to a margin of 32.5bp paid on the 2005 deal, and in 2002 the deal was paying a margin of 52.5bp.

The facility will be fully secured at all times by the assignment of firm and fixed price contracts from acceptable buyers from OECD countries, as well as the assignment of the off-shore collection account with Ghana International Bank, London. This year’s facility also uniquely features a one-year extension option on the usual 364-day tenor.

Joining the facility as senior lead arrangers are Bayerische Landesbank, BHF-Bank, Rabobank International, DekaBank, Dresdner Kleinwort, DZ Bank, ICICI Bank Bahrain, SMBC, Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi, Royal Bank of Scotland.

The arranger group consists of: Ghana Commercial Bank, Landesbank Baden-Wurttemberg, and Landesbank Rheinland-Pfalz.

Lead managers are Banca Intesa, Banque des Mascareignes, Europe Arab Bank, ICBC, Standard Bank and the State Bank of India. Acting as a manager is Ecobank Ghana.
Denton Wilde Sapte was the legal advisor to the lenders. Standard Chartered Bank acted as facility agent and Natixis was the documentation agent.

Cocobod is one of the key cocoa organisations in the world, and Ghana is the world’s second largest producer and exporter of cocoa, earning approximately 40% of its foreign exchange revenues from cocoa. The cocoa sector plays a vital role in supporting the country’s economy, employing over 2 million farmers and buying agents.