Ivorian Cocoa Shipper's Liquidator Is Said to Open Asset Bidding

(Bloomberg) -- The liquidator of Ivorian cocoa exporter Saf-Cacao opened bidding for the company’s assets after the government turned down a request from lenders to halt the shipper’s collapse, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Banks have made little progress in their attempts to prevent the demise of Saf-Cacao, one of Ivory Coast’s top cocoa exporters, which was placed under liquidation by a court in the country’s city of San Pedro on July 18 upon the request of industry regulator Le Conseil du Cafe Cacao. Lenders in the country, which are owed an estimated 150 billion CFA francs ($258 million) by the company, have argued they stand a better chance of being repaid if Saf-Cacao is allowed to continue trading, people familiar with the matter said last month.

Saf-Cacao’s main assets are a processing plant and warehouses worth about 50 billion CFA francs, the CCC said in court documents seen by Bloomberg. The company also has about 60,000 metric tons of cocoa stocks which are held by banks as collateral for loans, the documents show.

Liquidator Alain Guillemain didn’t respond to a mobile phone text message seeking comment. Spokesmen for the government and CCC and didn’t answer calls seeking comment.

A KPMG audit of the industry earlier this year showed Saf-Cacao was among 32 exporters that defaulted on 222,302 tons of cocoa last season.

The banks will continue to seek talks with the government and have lodged an application to appeal the liquidation that will be heard in October, said the people, who asked not to be identified because they’re not authorized to speak publicly about the matter.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.

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