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Published on 14 November 2017

Exclusive: The financial acrobatics of a government walking a tightrope

Congo-B Denis Sassou Nguesso is in a very precarious economic position.

Pending the decision of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which is due to decide early next year whether it is willing to lend to a debt-ridden Congo-B, Denis Sassou-Nguesso has entrusted the oil trader Lucien Ebata with the urgent task of securing funds from abroad. In a desperate quest for financing, the trader has been sounding out numerous banks and investors in Europe as well as in Russia and the Persian Gulf. Lucien Ebata is surrounded by a shadowy group of unofficial advisers who are activating their networks in Europe and Asia in the hope of being rewarded for their efforts further down the line.

An exclusive investigation by the West African Newsletter and Africa Energy Intelligence into a state in the midst of financial turmoil.

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No getting around the IMF for Sassou Nguesso 

The failure of Prime Minister Clement Mouamba's mission to Beijing leaves the government no option but to swallow Washington's medicine. [...]

Lucien Ebata's special mission to bail out the Congo  Free

Parachuted in as a special adviser to the Congolese president on foreign funding (AEI 800 et WAN 759), Lucien Ebata [...]

Breaking news CONGO-B Africa Intelligence 13/10/2017

Investors squeezed as the government grapples with the economic crisis 

Companies operating in Congo-B are suffering from financial problems closely linked to the economic crisis the company has been going [...]

CONGO-B Africa Intelligence Document 10/10/2017

IMF dissects SNPC's $900 million loan 

The institution's Washington delegation, which has been in Brazzaville for the past two weeks, has taken a particular interest in a $914 million loan subscribed by Congo-B's state-run oil firm. [...]

Lucien Ebata's Eurobond dreams 

Sassou Nguesso's new special adviser has been in top secret talks with Western banks. An exclusive! [...]

A highly risky venture for Sassou 

The President has created a task force to take on the IMF experts [...]

Orion Oil founder face to face with IMF 

Trader Orion's boss Lucien Ebata, is part of a team of senior Congolese officials tasked with handling negotiations with the IMF. [...]

SNPC puts traders under its spell 

Desperately seeking a solution to its cash-flow problem, Congo-B's national company went knocking on Trafigura and Vitol's doors. Somehow, against all expectations, it has managed to convince several big oil traders to come on board. [...]

How Sassou intends to sweeten the bitter pill 

The president has appointed a government tasked with preparing for the austerity measures which the IMF is intending to impose [...]

SNPC's last resort journey to China 

Having failed to secure a loan from Saudi Arabia, the Congolese oil company's management have turned to Beijing for help. [...]

Riyadh seeking to involve Sassou in its offensive against Doha 

On 15 July, Denis Sassou-Nguesso received two high-ranking Saudi diplomats [...]

Breaking news CONGO-B Africa Intelligence 20/07/2017

So Brazzaville is broke? Riyadh rides to the rescue 

A corporate jet arrived on Tuesday morning in Brazzaville with a Saudi delegation that included officials from the foreign ministry [...]

Former Benin president Boni Yayi comes to SNPC's rescue 

Former Benin president Thomas Boni Yayi.
Former Benin president Thomas Boni Yayi. ©Patrick Robert - Corbis

Riddled with debt, the SNPC hopes to barter oil for goods with Saudi Arabia and is counting on former Benin president Thomas Boni Yayi, very active in the Gulf, in lending a helping hand. [...]

Spotlight CONGO-B Africa Intelligence 13/06/2017

Iskandar Safa’s oil package 

Burdened by debt that has its oil production tied up for the next five years (AEI 778), Congo-B has found an unexpected saviour in Iskandar Safa. The Lebanese industrialist and owner of Constructions mecaniques de Normandie (CMN), has offered to [...]

How Worldwide paid $359 million to SNPC 

Prior to Congo-B's last presidential election, the small Emirati trader Worldwide paid in advance for 5.7 million barrels of Djeno or Nkossa grade oil. It has yet to receive a single drop. [...]

SNPC won't be able to pay back advance funding 

The drop in the oil price is going to prevent the national oil company from paying back loans it contracted with banks. [...]

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