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Buyer of SAF-Cacao assets wins Ivory Coast 2018/19 export permit

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ABIDJAN, Jan 29 (Reuters) – Ivory Coast’s cocoa marketing board has granted an export licence to the company that bought the assets of SAF-Cacao, a top exporter until it was liquidated in July, a document reviewed by Reuters shows.

This represents a milestone for the world’s biggest cocoa producer, which has toughened conditions for export licences to avoid a repeat of defaults linked to a disastrous 2016/17 season, when world market prices fell 40 percent.

Ivorian firm Societe Agricole du Cafe-Cacao (SACC) acquired SAF-Cacao’s assets last week in a deal worth 165 billion CFA francs ($289 million), a source at the marketing board and two banking sources said.

This paved the way for CCC to grant SACC an export licence for the 2018/19 season, a decision which was taken on Monday, the document revealed.

SAF-Cacao, formerly the largest cocoa exporter in south-west Ivory Coast, was liquidated after defaulting on debt of 80 billion CFA francs linked to cocoa contracts for the 2015-18 seasons.

SACC’s bid for its assets included 15 billion CFA francs for the working capital and 150 billion CFA francs to settle debts over a ten-year period at a discount that is yet to be finalised, one of the banking sources said.

“There will be negotiations to settle the terms of payment of the debt and the discount,” the source said.

Before liquidation, SAF-Cacao’s purchases stood at around 200,000 tonnes per season. ($1 = 569.7500 CFA francs)

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