Ivorian Banks Rebuff Cocoa Regulator's Bid for Saf-Cacao

(Bloomberg) -- Lenders in Ivory Coast turned down a bid of 80 billion CFA francs ($142 million) by the nation’s cocoa regulator for the assets of Saf-Cacao, an exporter of the beans that’s under liquidation, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Le Conseil du Cafe-Cacao made the bid on behalf of its Sifca-Coop business for the shipper’s warehouses, grinding facility and an estimated 60,000 metric tons of beans it has in stock, said the people, who asked not to be identified because they’re not authorized to talk about the matter. Lenders argue that the offer undervalued Saf-Cacao’s assets, many of which were used as security to acquire some of the outstanding debts of about 150 billion francs owed to banks, said the people.

Lenders want to continue talks with the government to halt the liquidation that was granted by a court in the coastal town of Sassandra after an application by the CCC, said the people. Separately, banks have lodged a legal appeal that will be heard next month.

Liquidator Alain Guillemain didn’t answer a call seeking comment. A spokesman for the CCC declined to comment when contacted by phone.

The liquidation of Saf-Cacao caps a reversal in fortunes for a shipper that was the second-biggest exporter in the world’s top cocoa producer two years ago. It slipped out of the top 10 exporters by size for the main harvest that ended in March, and defaulted on 22,425 tons of cocoa contracts in the two years through September 2017, according to a KPMG audit commissioned by the regulator.

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