Indian firms shopping light abroad
Non-financial private companies seem to have paid off more of their past debt than they have raised from offshore markets
Indian companies may be borrowing big from offshore markets, but they are not bringing the money home.
External commercial borrowings (ECBs) of private Indian companies showed an outflow of $1.5 billion in the three months ended September, data from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) showed.
Indeed, the non-financial private companies seem to have paid off more of their past debt than they have raised from offshore markets as the accompanying chart shows.
In fact, commercial borrowings saw an outflow of $1.96 billion for the first half of this fiscal year.
Even in fiscal 2017, companies had paid off a large chunk of their dollar debt, with commercial borrowings showing a net repayment of $4.4 billion for the whole year.
The fact that the stock of commercial borrowings declined in fiscal 2017 for the first time since 2001-02 shows how deep the deleveraging is.
But not every company stayed off dollar borrowings. There have been big fund raises in the dollar market from Reliance Industries Ltd and its telecom company, Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd.
In October, companies had raised $4.4 billion, nearly three times the amount they had borrowed in the corresponding month a year ago.
November proved to be even more fruitful as the benefits of the sovereign rating upgrade of India by Moody’s Investor Services added to the appeal of Indian debt and made many companies shop offshore for funds.
Reliance Industries managed to price its dollar bond issue at the tightest spread ever when it raised $880 million following the rating upgrade.
But for a handful of companies raising big money abroad, there are many who are paying off debt to put their house in order. And this, juxtaposed with the ongoing bad loan resolution process involving rupee credit, sits well with the indications that leverage has indeed come off among corporates.