Ivory Coast's Sifca to invest $74 mln in West Africa

TOUPAH, Ivory Coast, March 8 Sat Mar 8, 2014 11:13am EST

TOUPAH, Ivory Coast, March 8 (Reuters) - Ivory Coast agro-industrial group Sifca, part-owned by Singapore's Olam International and Wilmar International, will invest 35 billion CFA francs ($74 million) this year to diversify in West Africa, executives said.

Part of the money will go to creating 15,000 hectares (37,000 acres) of palm oil plantations in Liberia and a further 10,000 hectares in Nigeria, executives said at a news conference late on Friday to discuss 2013 results.

The remaining funds will be used to build a biomass power station with a 23-megawatt capacity in Ivory Coast and to pay for a 49.5 percent stake in Wilmar Africa Ltd, the Singaporean company's African subsidiary.

Bertrand Vigne, Sifca's managing director, said the group's 2013 turnover was stable at around 500 billion CFA francs. The company is controlled by the Billon family of Ivory Coast, while the two Singaporean companies have a stake of around 25 percent.

"The group has a clear regional strategy and these projects should allow Sifca to continue to grow," Vigne said.

Alassane Doumbia, Sifca's executive vice-chairman, said the company raised the funds for the investment with a 35 billion CFA bond issue in July on the regional debt market.

"Regarding green energy, talks are under way with the Ivorian government to agree a price per kilowatt-hour," Doumbia said. ($1 = 473.2050 CFA francs) (Reporting by Loucoumane Coulibaly; Editing by Daniel Flynn and Dale Hudson)

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