The Board of Cocobod is considering buying off the shares of the Cocoa Processing Company of Ghana to forestall its collapse.
This is one of the numerous proposals being considered by the board in the face of the growing debts owed by the company. The CPC owes some syndicated banks led by Barclays Bank to the tune of $20 million. It is also indebted to COCOBOD for the supply of cocoa beans.
CPC’s performance on the Ghana stock Exchange has been anything but impressive over the years. The company which manufactures Golden Tree brand of chocolates, has been struggling over the years in spite of several recapitalization interventions by government. The factory also processes cocoa into Liquor, Butter, Cake and Powder which are exported to foreign markets under the brand name; Portem. COCOBOD owns more than half of the shares in CPC, with the Finance Ministry, SSNIT and the public being minor shareholders.
Chairman of the Board of COCOBOD, Hackman Owusu Agyeman assured management and staff of the CPC of efforts being made to revitalize its operations.
“Within the shortest possible time, we shall come with a well packaged message on how to rescue this organization. I do not think that we intend that it should die. But in as much as it is a private company, we’ll have to see how best we can do it; whether the shares are now offloaded all to COCOBOD or to some institution, or whether it’s still private equity, if it is then what arrangements can we make”, he said.
He disclosed that a meeting would soon be held among the major stakeholders in the sector in a bid to find a solution to the challenges facing CPC. “I think that this calls for a very special meeting after we’ve studied all the options between your management, the COCOBOD Board of Directors, management of COCOBOD to see how best we can salvage the situation”, he promised.
Mr. Agyeman was speaking to management and staff of the company as part of a factory tour of some cocoa processing companies with the Ghana Free Zones by the Board of Directors of COCOBOD.
On his part, the acting Director of the CPC, Dr. Frank Asante told Starr Business, the company would be able to pay parts of the loans if COCOBOD supplies it with beans for processing. “With the COCOBOD debt, we believe that if they can give us cocoa beans, we should be able to process, because the arrangement in place now is that all proceeds from the sale of our products is lodged in a bank account from where those we owe like COCOBOD and the syndicated banks draw their monies”, he proposed.
Dr. Asante also wants COCOBOD to liaise with the Finance ministry to help in clearing the debt since they are shareholders of the company.