New Delhi: India’s largest cellphone company by subscribers, Bharti Airtel Ltd, said on Sunday that it had tied up the entire $8.3 billion (Rs37,765 crore) of financing required for its proposed acquisition of Kuwaiti telecom firm Zain’s African assets.
“The financing was oversubscribed, with major international banks committing to underwrite the total amount,” Bharti said in a statement.
Bharti will get $7.5 billion in loans from a group of banks led by Standard Chartered Plc and Barclays Plc, the statement said.
One step closer: Bharti Airtel’s Sunil Mittal. Bharti will get $7.5 billion from a group of banks led by Standard Chartered and Barclays. Madhu Kapparath / Mint
Bharti’s lead arranger and lead adviser Standard Chartered committed the highest amount of $1.3 billion to the financing package followed by Barclays with $900 million, according to people close to the development who didn’t want to be named.
The other lenders were State Bank of India, Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd, Bank of America-Merrill Lynch, BNP Paribas SA, Credit Agricole CIB, DBS Group Holdings Ltd, HSBC Holdings Plc, Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ Ltd and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp. The company will also get a rupee loan equivalent to as much as $1 billion from State Bank of India, which would cover associated transaction costs, Bharti said.
Bharti and Zain are in exclusive talks until 25 March, marking the third time the Indian firm has tried to get its hands on a meaningful African business after two failed bids for South Africa’s MTN Group Ltd. Bharti’s board met on Saturday to discuss the offer for Zain’s African assets.
“The amount of debt they have taken does weaken their finances,” said a Mumbai-based analyst with an international brokerage who didn’t want to be named. “But their books are still very strong. If everything goes according to plan for Bharti, and so far there is no indication that it will not, they will come out of this far stronger in the longer term.”
Bharti would pay a total $9 billion for acquiring Zain’s assets in 15 African countries, and will also assume $1.7 billion of debt on the target firm’s books. Of the $9 billion purchase price, $700 million would be paid to Zain one year after closing the deal, the companies have said.
This proposed transaction does not include Zain’s operations in Morocco and Sudan and remains subject to due diligence, customary regulatory approvals and signing of the final transaction documents.
Zain, in an emailed statement, said the due diligence for the proposed acquisition of its African assets was proceeding smoothly and as planned.
(‘Bloomberg’ and ‘Reuters’ contributed to this story.)