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Bharti Airtel ties up $8.3bn in funding for Zain Africa assets buy

23 марта 2010

Bharti Airtel Ltd. said Sunday it has tied up $8.3 billion in funding to buy most of the African assets of Kuwait's Mobile Telecommunications Co., taking it a step closer to a deal that would allow the Indian carrier to expand its footprint overseas and strengthen its position as one of the industry's top 10 players.

Bharti Airtel, India's largest mobile phone operator by subscribers, is in exclusive talks until March 25 with Zain to buy most of the company's Africa assets, excluding Morocco and Sudan.

The deal, estimated to about $9 billion in cash, is the Indian company's latest attempt to enter a fast-growing overseas market as intense competition and price wars hurt its growth at home.

Standard Chartered PLC is the lead arranger and adviser for $7.5 billion in financing, with Barclays Bank PLC as a joint lead adviser, Bharti Airtel said in a statement.

Other co-arrangers and advisers include State Bank of India Group, Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd., BNP Paribas S.A., Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Credit Agricole CIB, DBS Bank, HSBC, Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp., Bharti said.

Bharti Airtel said in addition to the U.S. dollar financing, State Bank of India Group has committed up to $1 billion in rupee terms.

"The loans are very competitively priced...both the dollar and the rupee loans will be term loans having a tenure of just below five years," a Bharti spokesman told Dow Jones Newswires, without specifying the pricing of the loan.

The $8.3 billion which has been secured will be the first installment that needs to be paid by Bharti once the deal with Zain is finalized, the spokesman said. The company said in February it needs to pay the $700 million in balance a year after the conclusion of the transaction.

Bharti's board members, which met on Saturday, approved the financing, the spokesman said.

"The buyer and seller are keen to close the deal," said a person familiar with the matter Saturday after the board meeting.

The transaction if consummated would be India's largest cross-border deal after Tata Steel's roughly $13 billion acquisition of Anglo-Dutch steel maker Corus in 2007. It is expected to raise Bharti's subscriber base to around 170 million, giving it access to the fast-growing African market where the average teledensity is lesser than India.

Investment house KSCC is also serving as the company's regional financial adviser on this transaction, Bharti said.

Источник: Total Telecom

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