Ecobank Capital, the investment banking arm of Ecobank, the leading pan-African bank, announces that it has successfully raised, in FCFA and Euro equivalent, the sum of USD 228 million required to close the first tranche of a loan syndication on behalf of Olam Palm Gabon ("OPG").
The facility comprises a USD 20 million 10-year FCFA tranche and a USD 208 million 7-year Euro and FCFA tranche, extendable to 12 years. The second tranche of the syndicated loan is likely to be placed with international development finance institutions at a later date. Ecobank Capital acted as the mandated lead arranger, working with two co-arranging banks, namely, Afreximbank and BGFI Bank Gabon. The Central African Development Bank participated as a lender. The closing ceremony was held in Paris on the 12th July.
OPG is a 70:30 joint venture between Olam International ('Olam'), a leading global integrated supply chain manager and processor of agricultural products, and the Republic of Gabon. The proceeds will be used to finance the establishment of a 50,000-hectare palm oil plantation and crushing mill in Gabon. Once at full capacity, the project will make Gabon one of West Africa's leading palm oil producers, potentially overtaking Côte d'Ivoire as the region's largest palm oil exporter.
Thanking all the syndicate partners for their confidence in the project, Mr. Gagan Gupta, Olam International's representative in Gabon, observed: "This project represents an essential part of Olam's partnership with the Republic of Gabon, which will contribute to the State's emerging policy of sustainable development. We will be implementing international best practices throughout the entire supply chain by adopting the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) principles."
Mr. Jean-Louis Ekra, the President of Afreximbank, a Co-Arranger and the largest contributor to the transaction, remarked: "Afreximbank is proud to be associated with this groundbreaking project as it reflects our core mandate to develop, facilitate and stimulate intra- and extra-African trade. It also underscores Africa's need to develop similar agro-processing projects that are robustly structured around adding value to the Continent's abundant primary raw materials and commodities."
Mr. Brice Laccruche Alihanga, Managing Director of BGFI Bank Gabon, added: "Our role as Co-Arranger of this financing confirms our status as CEMAC's leading bank and highlights our willingness to support projects that help to diversify the Gabonese economy."
Welcoming the agreement, Mr Michael Adande, President of the Central African States Development Bank ('BDEAC'), said: "This project will have a real socio-economic impact through the creation of thousands of jobs, both in the investment phase and the operational phase, and, ultimately, an improvement in Gabon's trade balance and capital account, as well as increasing foreign reserves due to rising dollar-denominated exports of palm oil."
Ehouman Kassi, Ecobank's Head of Investment Banking, concluded: "This landmark transaction underscores Ecobank's capabilities as a Leading Arranger of syndicated loans, working with Africa's key financial institutions, to provide support vital to Gabon's non-oil economic growth, especially at a time when the Eurozone crisis is threatening African businesses' access to international markets."
Notes to Editors
About Ecobank Group
Incorporated in Lomé, Togo, Ecobank Transnational Incorporated is the parent company of the leading independent pan-African banking group. It currently has a presence in 32 African countries, namely: Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo (Brazzaville), Congo (Democratic Republic), Côte d'Ivoire, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe.
The Group is also represented in France through its affiliate EBI S.A. in Paris. ETI also has representative office in Dubai, United Arab Emirates and London, UK. ETI is listed on the stock exchanges in Lagos, Accra and the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA) – the BRVM in Abidjan. The Group has more than 600,000 local and international institutional and individual shareholders. The Group has 18,321employees in 35 countries and 1,180 branches and offices.
Ecobank is a full-service bank providing wholesale, retail, investment and transaction banking services and products to governments, financial institutions, multinationals, international organizations, medium, small and micro businesses and individuals. Additional information may be found at http://www.ecobank.com.
The African Export-Import Bank ("Afreximbank") was established in Abuja, Nigeria in October 1993 by African Governments, African private and institutional investors as well as non-African financial institutions and private investors for the purpose of financing, promoting and expanding intra-African and extra-African trade. Additional information may be found at http://www.afreximbank.com.
About BGFI Bank Group:
BGFI Bank Group is a financial services conglomerate, headquartered in Gabon, with subsidiaries in 10 countries in Central, West and East Africa. The member institutions serve both individuals and businesses, with an emphasis on small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs). In January 2010, BGFI Group was ranked as the largest banking group in Central Africa by assets. Additional information may be found at http://www.bgfi.com.
About the Central African Development Bank ('BDEAC')
La Banque de Développement des Etats de l'Afrique Centrale was created in 1975 with a mission to promote economic and social development of its member countries, including the financing of domestic investment and multinational economic integration projects. Additional information may be found at http://www.bdeac.org.