Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Reliance Communications gets Rs 8,700 cr loan from China Development Bank

MUMBAI: Reliance Communications says it has finalized a $1.93 billion Chinese loan which will save it hundreds of millions in interest.

The loan, the largest ever between the two Asian giants, comes amid often frosty relations.

Debt-ridden Reliance says it will use $1.33 billion to refinance pricey 3G spectrum fees and the rest for imports of Chinese telecom equipment from Huawei and ZTE.

Reliance Communications said it would see annual interest cost savings of more than Rs 500 crore ($111 million).

China Development Bank has underwritten the loan and is part of a consortium of Chinese banks providing funding.

Reliance Communications, India's second biggest mobile phone operator, had in December signed an accord with China Development Bank for a $1.93 billion, 10-year, syndicated loan.

The drawdown of the loan, is likely to start this month.

Reliance Communications has to reduce a $7 billion mountain of debt ahead of a major bond redemption next year.

Last year, Reliance Communications attempted to sell a 26 per cent stake in itself to pare debt. But it found no takers. A plan to float its tower unit in an initial public offering also failed to take off and a deal to merge its tower arm with a rival collapsed.

Reliance Communications is battling a fast-growing but ferociously competitive Indian cellular market in which call charges have fallen and operational costs have risen, triggering declines in margins, while regulatory worries have also increased.

The shares have fallen about 35 percent this year, making them the eighth worst performer globally among large capitalised firms.

Source: ET

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