Ghana's cash-strapped Cocoa Processing Company (CPC) is seeking at least $300 million to repay debt and to buy beans upfront to feed the 64,500-tonne plant, its managing director told Reuters on Thursday.
CPC, noted for its flagship 'Golden Tree' brand, is currently operating at under 20 per cent of its throughput due to lack of funds to purchase beans for grinding, Frank Asante said.
"It's all because of our weak financial situation...the fact that we are not able to provide the necessary guarantees to buy our own beans," Asante said.
The company relies on cheaper light crop beans from state-owned industry regulator Cocobod, which it grinds into chocolate, liquor, butter and cake for export and local consumption.
"We are seeking at least $300 million to pay our debts and turn the company around and we have made a request to our parent company, Cocobod, for help," Asante said on the sidelines of a visit by African Development Bank president Akinwumi Adesina.
The AfDB is willing to provide $1.2 billion to finance plans by Ivory Coast and Ghana to process more of their cocoa under a joint initiative to guarantee stable revenues from the commodity, Adesina told Reuters on Wednesday.
Asante is hopeful that part of Ghana's share of the $1.2 billion loan will come to CPC.
He said CPC owed about $122 million, including $100 million in unpaid beans supplied by Cocobod. The company also needs working capital of around $200 million mainly to restock beans that will cover at least a three-month cycle.
CPC, formerly wholly owned by Cocobod, was listed on the Ghana Stock Exchange in 2003. Cocobod, the Finance Ministry and the state-run SSNIT pension fund own a total of 94.1 percent.
The government of President Nana Akufo-Addo, who took office in January, is seeking to double local processing of cocoa to 50 per cent of its average yearly output of around 800,000 tonnes.
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