Airtel cash chase
The board of Bharti Airtel on Thursday approved a proposal to raise Rs 32,000cr through a mix of a rights issue and a bond offering as India’s No. 2 telecom player ups the ante in its fight against late entrant Reliance Jio. Bharti will raise Rs 25,000 crore as rights and the rest in perpetual bond of Rs 7,000 crore.
The company did not give the purpose of the issue, but it is expected the company would use the proceeds to pay off debt, which stands at a whopping Rs 1.06 lakh crore.
The terms of the rights issue cleared by the board include a price of Rs 220 per fully paid equity share (a premium of Rs 215 per fully paid equity share over face value of Rs 5 per share); and a rights entitlement ratio of 19 shares for every 67 shares held by eligible shareholders, Bharti said.
Perpetual bond of up to $1 billion (about Rs 7,000 crore) denominated in foreign currency is “subject to price, market conditions and other terms and conditions as acceptable, and with conditions allowing for full accounting equity credit and subject to all applicable laws...”.
The board has authorised the “Special Committee of Directors for Fund Raising” to proceed with the rights issue and determine its terms and conditions, including setting the record date, finalisation of the Letter of Offer and other details.
The board also authorised the committee to decide, assess and conclude on the issuance of perpetual bond.
The mega fund-raising plans comes just days after Vodafone and Aditya Birla Group said they will infuse over Rs 18,000 crore into India’s largest telecom operator Vodafone Idea Ltd through a rights issue.
The Indian telecom sector — the world’s second largest in terms of subscribers — has been bruised by falling tariffs, eroding profitability and mounting debt, amid stiff competition triggered by disruptive offerings of Reliance Jio.
The industry has been seeking urgent relief measures entailing debt restructuring, a cut in levies and release of GST input tax credit locked up with the government.