September 27, 2018 / 2:30 PM / in 7 months

Cargill and Wilmar seeking to buy liquidated cocoa assets in Ivory Coast : sources

ABIDJAN (Reuters) - Agro-industry firms Cargill, Wilmar and Touton have made offers for the liquidated assets of Ivory Coast’s top cocoa exporter SAF-Cacao, bankers and sources at the country’s cocoa board (CCC) said on Thursday.

FILE PHOTO: Workers walk past sacks of cocoa at the warehouses of SAF-Cacao in San Pedro, Ivory Coast October 12, 2016. REUTERS/Ange Aboa/File Photo

A court ordered the liquidation of SAF-Cacoa, which purchases between 150,000 and 200,000 tonnes of cocoa beans each season, in July over debts it owed to the CCC.

It owes about 80 billion CFA francs ($143.50 million) to the CCC and 160 billion CFA francs to Ivorian banks.

“The most serious candidates are Wilmar, Touton and Cargill, who made offers that will be analyzed on Monday by the creditor banks and the other lender, the CCC,” a CCC official told Reuters.

Cargill, Wilmar and Touton all declined to comment.

The sources said that Wilmar, which is based in Singapore, and French-based Touton are interested in SAF-Cacao’s Choco-Ivoire grinding plant, which has a capacity of 32,000 tonnes, as well as its other cocoa and coffee factories.

U.S.-based Cargill is most interested in storage warehouses, which cover some 100,000 square meters, the sources said.

“Our objective is to sell all the assets and allow the lenders to be reimbursed and wrap up this affair as quickly as possible,” a second CCC official said.

Cocoa exporters are among the major borrowers in Ivory Coast. A wave of defaults last growing season has raised concern that the crisis could destabilize the banking sector of French-speaking West Africa’s largest economy.

($1 = 557.5000 CFA francs)

Editing by Aaron Ross and Alexandra Hudson

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