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MTN raises more than R18bn in loans

14 September 2016, 12:26loans Loni Prinsloo and Renee Bonorchis

Johannesburg - MTN Group [JSE:MTN], Africa’s largest mobile-phone operator by sales, said it entered three loan agreements, raising more than $1.3bn (R18.64bn) as the company markets a potential bond.

The company is being provided with $1 billion and R4.8bn ($332 million) from local and international banks and financial institutions, Johannesburg-based MTN said in an e-mailed response to questions on Tuesday.

MTN is on a roadshow in the US and U.K. this week to gauge investor appetite for the sale of debt securities.

“These financing arrangements are in line with the MTN’s funding strategy, which aims to improve its debt maturity structure on an ongoing basis and maintain adequate bank facility headroom to support its credit rating,” the company said.

“MTN’s funding strategy further aims to maintain a balance of operating currency and dollar-denominated debt.”

MTN’s move to attract funding comes after the company reported its first-ever half-year loss in August, partly caused by an agreement to settle a record 330 billion naira ($1 billion) fine in Nigeria.

MTN and its subsidiaries have $3.2bn of debt and interest payments due by the end of July next year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

That includes a $2.75bn bridge-term loan, a R2bn senior unsecured loan and R1.25bn of bonds, the data shows.

No growth

Two loan deals were signed on August 25, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

A facility for $250m matures in 2019 and a $750m agreement closes in 2021, the data show.

In both instances the agent for the facilities was Citigroup’s global markets unit, which was also a joint book runner along with Bank of America Merrill Lynch. The lead arrangers for the credit included units of Barclays Africa Group, Mizuho Bank, Societe Generale and State Bank of India.

There were 10 lenders in total, according to the data. They included Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi, JPMorgan Chase, Standard Chartered and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking.

MTN’s subscriber base of 233 million didn’t grow during the six months through June and the company is struggling to repatriate R15.4bn tied up in its Iranian unit.

“The process of repatriating money out of Iran has been more complex than we initially thought, with Iran not having ties with international banks,” MTN’s outgoing Chief Financial Officer Brett Goschen said at the company’s first-half results presentation on August 5.

“Every week we are getting a little bit closer, but it will take us at least five to six months to get the money out once we start the first tranche.”

MTN hopes to start moving the funds out of Iran during the first half of 2017, according to Goschen. He will leave at the end of the month and a successor has yet to be appointed.

“MTN remains confident of its ability to remit monies in the short to medium term, and is currently on a process of putting in place the appropriate governance structures to facilitate the repatriation of funds,” the company said on Tuesday.

The shares rose 2.9% to R119 on Tuesday, ending a five-day losing streak and paring losses this year to 10%.

- Bloomberg

Tags mtn bond loans

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