Saf-Cacao Bidder Concludes Deal With Banks, Wins Export Permit

(Bloomberg) -- The winning bidder for Saf-Cacao, formerly one of Ivory Coast’s biggest cocoa exporters, completed a deal with lenders and the industry regulator to take over most of the company’s assets.

The bidder, Societe Agricole du Cafe-Cacao, will start trading immediately after winning an export license, company head Nicolas Djibo said by phone on Tuesday, without elaborating further.

In a settlement worth 150 billion CFA francs ($261 million) reached last week, Societe Agricole agreed to pay banks 10 annual installments to settle loans that were secured with Saf-Cacao assets, according to two people familiar with the people, who asked not to be identified because they’re not authorized to speak publicly about the matter.

The deal includes property such as Saf-Cacao’s warehouses and stores in the ports of San Pedro and Abidjan, but not the Choco Ivoire processing plant, which will revert to the regulator, said the people. The export permit was issued Monday, according to a document seen by Bloomberg.

A spokesman for the regulator declined to comment when contacted by phone.

The deal will conclude the liquidation of Saf-Cacao, which purchased the second-highest volume of cocoa from the world’s top producer three harvests ago. Its demise ensnared domestic shippers and lenders as the exporter’s 150 billion francs in unpaid borrowings prompted banks to curtail finance.

After cocoa reached a six-year high in July 2016, the company was one of several local shippers who bet on further gains and was then caught wrong-footed, defaulting on 15,000 metric tons of cocoa for the annual season through September 2017.

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