Bharti to meet investors for a potential $1 billion bond sale

MUMBAI Fri Feb 22, 2013 4:31pm IST

1 of 2. An employee checks a customers' feedback book next to a Bharti Airtel logo inside its shop in Kolkata May 2, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Rupak De Chowdhuri/Files

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MUMBAI (Reuters) - Bharti Airtel Ltd(BRTI.NS) is planning to meet global investors for what could potentially be its debut dollar bond sale nearly two years after failing to pull the trigger on a similar exercise.

The country's top mobile operator has picked seven foreign banks to arrange the meetings in Asia, Europe and the United States, said two sources with direct knowledge of the deal.

The roadshow comes after Sarvjit Dhillon, the chief financial officer of Bharti Enterprises, the parent company of Bharti Airtel, told Reuters the wireless carrier was hoping to raise up to $1 billion in the fiscal year that ends in March.

The banks are arranging the global investor meetings on behalf of Bharti Airtel International (Netherlands), a unit of Bharti Airtel, the sources said, declining to be named as they were not authorised to speak to the media.

A bond sale would depend on market conditions, the sources said.

The company was not immediately available for comment.

Back in June 2011, Bharti met with investors but opted not to press ahead with a bond offering.

A renewed push for a potential bond sale comes as global debt markets continue to attract Asian borrowers.

However, Indian borrowers account for only $2.05 billion of the $35 billion raised from Asian issuers in dollars, euros or yen so far this year, with only three issuers tapping investors.

Last year saw record offerings from Asia with $208.29 billion raised from 353 deals in these three currencies, with Indian borrowers accounting for only $8.15 billion in 2012.

If Bharti's bond materialises, the company will be the second-largest private sector borrower from India to tap the global bond markets this year after Reliance Industries Ltd's (RELI.NS) $800 million perpetual bond in late January.

More Indian borrowers are expected to access overseas markets for funding because the cost of domestic borrowing still remains high even after the central bank cut interest rates by 25 basis points last month.

Barclays Capital (BARC.L), BNP Paribas (BNPP.PA), Citigroup (C.N), Deutsche Bank (DBKGn.DE), HSBC (HSBA.L), Standard Chartered (STAN.L) and UBS UBSN.VX are the arrangers for the investor meet.

Bharti Airtel is rated "BBB-" by Fitch, "BB+" by S&P.

(Additional reporting by Aradhana Aravindan; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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