Ghana Cocoa Board (Cocobod) plans to issue up to $2 billion in bonds to pay off some legacy debts on its books, Mr Ray Ankrah, Deputy Chief Executive Finance, has said.

Speaking at a meeting with executives of Standard Bank Group in Accra, Mr Ankrah said Cocobod is looking at a tenor of between 10 and 20 years for the bonds.

He said, the bond will help Cocobod to create the fiscal space to enhance operations through a reduction in financing cost.

“Some of the legacy debts we have inherited were issued at high interest rates and the issue of the bond will help to reduce the financing cost,” Mr Ankrah said.

The Board is in discussion with some financial institutions and quite surprisingly there is a high level of interest and we are working as to how to structure something that will ensure that we borrow some money from the international market to take care of our local cocoa beans,” he said.

The plan is also to come out with a collateral so that Cocobod can use the crop going forward for the next 10 to 15 years to secure this facility, he said.

“As you know we’ve been doing this annual syndication and we are trying to change the conversation and to have something for the long-term. We believe we can raise this money to secure between 1.5 and $2 billion to reduce some of our financing cost,” Mr Ankrah said.

“This has not been done before so we are taking our time to do it,” he said, adding that, the move was part of measures to revamp operations and put Cocobod on a sound financial footing.

“We just want to signal our intention that we are looking to re-invent this organization when it comes to financial discipline, financial sustainability and bringing a new culture at Cocobod,” Mr Ankrah added.

On his part, Mr Joseph Boahen Aidoo, the Chief Executive Cocobod, said the Board was doing everything to sustain the contributions of smallholder farmers to cocoa production.

He said if no support was given the farmers they would lose interest and give out their farm lands for illegal mining.

Mr Steve Hall, Standard Bank Group leader said the executives were at Cocobod to learn how to play their roles effectively as far as their commitment to Africa was concerned.

He said the bank is focused on three strategic growth areas of meeting customer needs, challenges and leveraging on the opportunities, digitization and universal banking operations to meet the Africa continent growth needs.

Meanwhile, the board on Tuesday announced that the purchases of the 2018/2019 main crop cocoa season would cease at close of business on Thursday, May 30, 2019.

A statement issued and signed by Mr Joseph Boahen Aidoo, the Chief Executive Officer of COCOBOD, and copied to the Ghana News Agency, in Accra on Tuesday, said in order to assist the Licensed Buying Companies (LBCs) to obtain the final returns from up-country centres, the Ghana Cocoa Board had decided that returns on the declared purchases would be accepted up to 1600 hours on Thursday, June 6, 2019

Source: GNA