Bharti Airtel, India’s largest telecom operator by users on Thursday said that it is planning to raise funds through private placement of bonds and debentures. The latest development could be seen as a move by India’s No. 1 telco to build up a war chest to take on 4G entrant Reliance Jio Infocomm, which too is planning to invest Rs 30,000 crore in its network to enhance coverage and capacity in India.
In a BSE filing, Airtel said, “We hereby inform you that the Board of Directors of the company in its meeting to be held on January 24, 2017 shall interalia consider raising of funds through issue of debentures and bonds through private placement.”
The Sunil Mittal-led company, however, did not disclose the quantum of funds that would be raised through the debt instruments.
Bharti Airtel currently has the largest market share of 32.84 per cent in India. During November, Bharti Airtel added 1.08 million additional subscribers, taking its total customer base to 263.35 million mobile subscribers.
Vodafone, the second largest mobile operator in India market, has 202.79 million subscribers, followed by Idea Cellular at 187.68 million. The country has a subscriber base of 801.81 million as of November 2016.
Notably, Idea Cellular, the country’s third largest telecom operator, recently informed the stock exchanges that it is planning to raise Rs 500 crore from the market by selling corporate bonds or issuance of unsecured Redeemable Non-Convertible Debentures (“NCDs”). The telco had earlier raised Rs 1,000 crore and Rs 1,500 crore through the same route. The telco had said that its bonds will offer 7.77% interest with five-year tenure.