Bharti Airtel board approves mega Rs 16500 crore fund-raise

Airtel plans to raise Rs 3000 cr via non-convertible debentures

Bharati Airtel board clears mega fund-raising plans

India's leading telecom player Bharti Airtel on Monday received approval from the board to raise up to Rs 16,500 crore through a mix of privately placed non-convertible debentures (NCDs) and foreign currency bonds for refinancing debt and paying for spectrum liabilities.

Companies in the debt-laden telecom sector witnessed a double whammy after the entry of Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd brought tariffs to rock-bottom levels and hit revenue streams of other operators.

Bharti Airtel recently announced that Singapore Telecommunications Ltd (Singtel) will indirectly raise its stake in Bharti Airtel by investing Rs 2,649 crore in Bharti Telecom Ltd, the promoter company, through a preferential allotment of shares. "Any funds raised under such approvals, if granted, are to be used for routine treasury activities including refinancing of debt and spectrum liabilities", a spokesperson for Bharti Airtel said in a statement on March 9.

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The company will now approach shareholders for final approval of the proposed funds.

Shares of Bharti Airtel ended with sharp gains on the bourses with the scrip settling 4.68 per cent, or Rs 18.80, higher at Rs 420.75 on the BSE. As on December 31, 2017, the company's consolidated net debt stood at Rs 91,714 crore.

Last month, Bharti Airtel had said it would transfer its 25 % stake in Bharti Telemedia to wholly owned arm Nettle Infrastructure Investments.

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As per transaction details then disclosed, Bharti Airtel would sell 15% of its DTH arm to Lion Meadow Investment for Rs 1,623.76 crore, while the balance would be sold by a Bharti promoter entity which owns 5% in company.

The company, which is already mulling an initial public offering for the African unit, has also taken several steps as part of its debt-reduction spree. Earlier this year, the third largest player Idea Cellular, which is set for a merger with Vodafone, had raised Rs 6,750 crore.

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