Airtel appoints over half-a-dozen investment banks to help raise Rs 7,500 crore via overseas bonds

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Airtel appoints over half-a-dozen investment banks to help raise Rs 7,500 crore via overseas bonds


Mumbai & Kolkata: Bharti Airtel is believed to have appointed more than half-a-dozen investment banks, including Bank of America, Barclays, Citigroup, JP Morgan, HSBC, and Standard Chartered Bank, who will help the telco raise a shade over $1 billion (Rs 7,500 crore) via overseas bonds.

“The bonds sale is expected to be launched either this weekend or early next week,” said one of the bankers involved in the exercise.

The Sunil Mittal-led telecom carrier will meet global fixed income investors on or after February 23 towards its stated plans to raise up to Rs 7,500 crore via bonds to build a war-chest even as India’s second-largest telco needs cash to buy spectrum in the upcoming 4G auction, invest in networks and also pay statutory dues, among other needs.

“The company will meet global fixed income investors on or after February 23, following which and subject to market conditions, it will take a final decision w.r.t. issuance of foreign currency bonds/notes, and a deal may or may not follow,” Airtel said in an exchange filing Monday.

But Airtel declined to respond to ET’s queries on the appointed bankers. Individual bankers could not be contacted immediately.

The overseas bonds are likely to be raised by Airtel’s Mauritius arm, Network i2i, and guaranteed by the telco.

Market circles, though, said “there may be two sets of instruments, including perpetual papers and general senior overseas notes”.

Perpetual bonds are likely to be rated in the high-yield category, that is one notch lower than the general rating, pegged at the lowest rank in the investment grade. BNP Paribas, DBS Bank and SMBC Nikko are among others helping the borrower, which will resume roadshows soon across the world.

Investor calls will likely take place with regions including Asia, Europe and the US starting from Tuesday. ET first wrote on the proposed fundraising in its January 18 edition.

Airtel’s latest fundraise plans come after it returned to the black by posting an Rs 854 crore net profit in the December quarter after six straight quarters of losses, on the back of a one-time gain linked to the Bharti Infratel and Indus Towers merger and strong mobile broadband user adds that led to record revenue.

India’s second-largest telco has already raised some $8 billion in the last couple of years. The latest fund raise plans come after the telco recently demonstrated live 5G services on its 4G network using the 1800 Mhz band and said it can commercially launch 5G with existing 4G airwaves in a few months.

Airtel also owes the government nearly Rs 26,000 crore as adjusted gross revenue (AGR) dues.





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