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Record bond issue secures Bharti Airtel's finances

Global investors have piled into Bharti Airtel's first USD bond issue, raising US$9.5 billion and will primarily be used to refinance existing debts of India's biggest telco.
Written by Mahesh Sharma, Correspondent

Bharti Airtel has orchestrated the highest value bond transaction issue ever by an Indian telco, after its offer of US$1 billion in guaranteed senior notes was more than nine times over-subscribed.

In a statement released Tuesday, India's biggest telco said its first issue of USD bonds, administered by its wholly-owned Dutch arm Bharti Airtel International (Netherlands), attracted an aggregated orderbook of over US$9.5 billion and was one of the largest to emerge from Asia.
Harjeet Kohli, group treasurer of Bharti, said: "We are extremely pleased with the strong interest shown by top global investors in Bharti's inaugural bond issue. In the backdrop of a volatile global environment, the transaction was well executed in the short time window available."

Two-third of investors, including fund managers, private banks, banks, insurance companies, and corporates, were located in Europe and the United States, while the rest were based in Asia. The issue was managed jointly by Barclays, BNP, Citigroup, DB, HSBC, Standard Chartered, and UBS.

"Diversifying its funding base, this transaction opens the door for Bharti to have an ongoing relationship with global investors in a deep corporate debt market," Kohli said.
The net proceeds will be used to refinance its existing debt. The interest on the notes is 5.125 percent, which is payable bi-annually.

According to Yahoo, the telco's debt stood at about US$12 billion (642.83 billion rupees) at the end of December, 2012--the legacy of the US$10 billion acquisition of an African carrier and the purchase of 3G spectrum in 2010.

Bharti last month announced plans to reorganize its local operations, regrouping its current three regional hubs into eight. The move was to support its goal to build a more connected company which was more in sync with the marketplace.

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