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Ivory Coast To Sell as Much as $67 Million in Banks and Mine

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Dec. 11 (Bloomberg) -- Ivory Coast, the world’s biggest cocoa producer, plans to sell stakes in 15 companies including banks in the first half of next year to reduce the burden on the state’s finances and boost competition.

The government will sell as much as 32 billion CFA francs ($67 million) of shares, according to a document obtained by Bloomberg News and confirmed as authentic by Bruno Kone, a government spokesman. The government will name more companies later, he said.

“The process of privatization should be completed by the first half of 2014,” Kone said by phone yesterday from Abidjan, Ivory Coast’s commercial capital. “Things will be done on a case-by-case basis.”

The West African nation is resuming plans to reduce the amount of shares it owns in companies by 25 percent, according to the document. The stock will be sold on the Abidjan-based regional exchange known as the Bourse Regionale des Valeurs Mobilieres, the document said. Local investors and the company employees will have priority in buying the stock, it said.

The exchange, which trades securities from eight West African nations, is set for its first listings since 2010 with two Senegalese companies Money Express and Cie. Sahelienne d’Instrustries Matforce, Chairman Gabriel Fal said in an interview last week. The bourse expects a total of 10 listings in 2014.

Bank Stakes

Ivory Coast plans to sell the shares it owns in four Abidjan-based banks for as much as 14.5 billion CFA francs. The banks include Banque Internationale pour l’Afrique de l’Ouest en Côte d’Ivoire and Societe Ivoirienne de Banque, which is 51 percent owned by Casablanca-based Attijariwafa Bank. The two other banks are Versus Bank, 100 percent owned by the government, and Banque pour le Financement de l’Agriculture, according to the document.

The government sold 302 billion CFA francs of shares in state companies from 1991 to 1999 and 24 billion CFA francs from 2000 to 2005, according to the document.

The West African nation also wants to sell its shares in five agriculture companies that deal with rubber, palm oil and sugar for as much as 7.8 billion CFA francs, the document said. One of the stakes is in Sucrivoire, a unit of Sifca Group, West Africa’s largest rubber producer listed on the regional bourse. The government will also seek to cede its stakes in fixed-phone operator Cote D’Ivoire Telecom, the document said.

Economic Recovery

Ivory Coast is recovering from a decade-long crisis that divided the country into a rebel-held north and a government-run south, and led to a collapse of the economy. In 2010, former President Laurent Gbagbo’s refusal to acknowledge its defeat in a presidential vote sparked a five-month post-election crisis that left more than 3,000 dead. The government expects the economy to grow by 8.7 percent this year, slower than the 9.8 percent expansion in 2012.

Talks are ongoing regarding the sale of the state assets in Ity gold mine, the document said. Ivory Coast already sold part of its holding in the mine to a group including Canadian miner La Mancha Resources Inc. which is controlled by Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris this year.

To contact the reporters on this story: Olivier Monnier in Abidjan at omonnier@bloomberg.net; Baudelaire Mieu in Abidjan at bmieu@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Antony Sguazzin at asguazzin@bloomberg.net