Sacks of cocoa beans are pictured at the warehouses of SAF-Cacao in San Pedro
Exposure to debt-stricken cocoa exporter rocks Ivory Coast banks
ABIDJAN (Reuters) - Heavy debt exposure to Ivory Coast's largest domestic cocoa exporter, which was ordered into liquidation this month, risks destabilising the West African nation's banking sector, bank officials said on Tuesday.
The three officials from different lenders, who asked not to be named, told Reuters that SAF-Cacao owed Ivorian banks between 150 billion and 155 billion CFA francs ($268 million to $277 million).
The Ivorian banking association has written to Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly to ask for assistance, the officials said.
"We clearly indicated the systemic risks for the Ivorian banking sector if nothing is done to help us," one of the officials said. "We must act now. Not in six months or a year. It's urgent."
The company is thought to have around 50,000 tonnes of cocoa beans that technically belong to the banks in its warehouses, but those stocks are believed to be of very poor quality.
($1 = 559.2000 CFA francs)
(Reporting by Ange Aboa; writing by Joe Bavier; editing by Jason Neely/David Evans)
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