VENTURES AFRICA – Ecobank Capital, the investment banking arm of Ecobank, has successfully raised $228 million to close the first tranche of loan syndication for Olam Palm Gabon (OPG).
The first tranche of the syndicated loan includes a 10-year FCFA tranche $20 million and a $208 million 7-year Euro and FCFA tranche, which could be extended to a dozen years. According to BusinessDay, expectations that the second tranche of the syndicated loan will soon be placed with international development finance institutions are high.
On the Olam Palm Gabon project, Ecobank Capital was the mandated lead arranger. It worked with Afreximbank and BGFI Bank Gabon, the co-arranging banks; while Central African Development Bank was a lender.
OPG is a joint venture between Olam International (Olam), a leading global integrated supply chain manager and processor of agricultural products, and the Republic of Gabon. Olam owns 70 percent stake while the government of Gabon controls the remaining 30 percent.
The raised funds would be utilized in establishing a 50,000-hectare palm oil plantation and crushing mill in Gabon which at full capacity would make Gabon become a major palm oil producing nation in the West African sub-region; it could also overtake Côte d’Ivoire as West Africa’s largest exporter of palm oil.
While commenting, the representative of Olam International in Gabon, Gagan Gupta described how the project typifies the partnership existing between his company and Gabon.
“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,” Gupta said.