Ivory Coast to Sell $500 Million of Eurobonds Before End May

Ivory Coast will sell $500 million of Eurobonds before the end of next month, its first issue on the international market since a default more than three years ago, Prime Minister Daniel Kablan Duncan said.

“It’s on the way,” Duncan said in an interview with Bloomberg TV Africa on April 14 in New York, where he met private investors to discuss the country’s agriculture and mining industries. “I think it will be finished by the end of May.”

The world’s biggest cocoa producer will use the funds to spur economic growth that will probably be more than 10 percent this year, Duncan said. The government hired Casablanca-based lender Banque Marocaine du Commerce Exterieur as an adviser on the sale. The offering was previously scheduled for as early as this month.

Growth in French-speaking Africa’s biggest economy stagnated as rebels controlled the north of the country for almost a decade following a failed coup in 2002. In late 2010, former President Laurent Gbagbo’s refusal to hand over power after losing a presidential vote sparked five months of violence in which at least 3,000 people died and a bond default was triggered. The failed overthrow in 2002 led to an eight-year civil war that split the country.

Infrastructure Projects

The economy expanded 8.7 percent last year as the government of President Alassane Ouattara targets investment in infrastructure, agriculture and mining projects, Duncan said. Ivory Coast wants to boost domestic processing of cocoa and cashew nuts to half of the harvest from 35 percent and 5 percent respectively, he said.

“We produce 1.5 million tons of cocoa,” he said. “We want to increase the processing share to reach at least 50 percent locally, to have more added value and employment.”

The yield on Ivory Coast’s dollar debt due in December 2032 was little changed at 6.7 percent at 8:53 a.m. in London. The yield has dropped 80 basis points this year, while the yield on neighboring Ghana’s benchmark dollar bond has risen 57 basis points during the same period.

There aren’t any security concerns regarding the next presidential elections scheduled for 2015, Duncan said.

“In three years we have made good progress in different areas and that’s the reason why investors are coming in large numbers,” he said. “We have made progress on peace and security, and on national reconciliation. There is no problem.”

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