COCOBOD is considering issuing a 15-to-20-year dollar-denominated bond in the coming months.
Riddled with a high debt profile amidst taking syndication loans, this dollar bond, amounting to almost $2 billion is intended to get the company financially viable.
COCOBOD’s legacy debt currently stands at some GHc6 billion is being financed by the issuance of short-term cocoa bills through auctions by the Bank of Ghana at a relatively high cost, currently an annualized 16 per cent.
Speaking to JoyBusiness, Deputy CEO in charge of finance and administration, Ray Ankrah said this move is to set COCOBOD as a highly competitive entity in the future.
“Trying to come up with some sort of a long-term bond to help us take care of some of the legacy debts we inherited to reduce our finance cost,” he revealed.
The 15 to 20-year bond, according to Ray Ankrah, has already attracted the interest of some investors.
He told JoyBusiness this move is to “ensure that we borrow some money on the international market to take care of our local cocoa bills and come up with some sort of collateral to use our crop going forward to secure this facility”
COCOBOD met with corporate executives from one of the company’s lenders – Standard Bank – with the aim of exchanging knowledge on the finance and governance aspect of cocoa regulation in Ghana.
CEO of COCOBOD, Joseph Boahen Aidoo, explained that COCOBOD had had to introduce new reforms against dwindling cocoa prices on the world market as well as the impact of climate change.
He argued that the government has no option than to support farmers by maintaining the producer price as long as cocoa prices continue to fall on the global market.
Mr Boahen Aidoo has warned that leaving cocoa farmers to their fate will spell doom for Ghana’s cocoa industry as over 1 million smallholder cocoa farmers are on the brink of selling out their farms to illegal gold miners and rubber plantations.
Standard Bank is a lead lender to COCOBOD when it comes to the syndication loan. A representative of Standard Bank Group – Stanbic Bank – expressed confidence in Ghana’s cocoa sector.
Managing Director of Stanbic Bank, Alhassan Andani complemented COCOBOD for strides made in safeguarding the cocoa sector in Ghana. He argues the government’s investment in the sector is positive in ensuring “a social contract in the sector that ensures certainty”.