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UPDATE 1-Ghana's Cocobod signs $1.8 bln loan for 2016/17 cocoa purchases

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ACCRA, Sept 21 Cocobod, Ghana's cocoa regulator, signed a $1.8 billion loan with international banks on Wednesday to finance purchases for the 2016/17 season, which is due to open next month, it said.

The size of the loan, which was signed in Frankfurt with 24 banks, is equal to the amount secured last year. Ghana, the world's second-biggest cocoa producer, will use the funds to purchase 850,000 to 900,000 tonnes of beans from farmers, Cocobod Chief Executive Stephen Opuni said.

The loan, the largest pre-export soft commodity financing facility in sub-Saharan Africa, was oversubscribed by $640 million, Cocobod said.

Lead arrangers were Deutsche Bank, Natixis , Cooperative Rabobank, Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi, Nedbank, Societe Generale , Standard Chartered Bank, Ghana International Bank and DZ Bank.

Ghana had hoped to produce around 850,000 tonnes of cocoa this year but a government source told Reuters on Tuesday that output had been reduced to 780,000 tonnes due to severe and prolonged drought between December and March. (Reporting by Kwasi Kpodo; Editing by Joe Bavier)

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