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Airtel shares climb nearly 5% on fund raising plans


India’s telecom major Bharti Airtel on Monday said that its board has approved a fundraising plan for a whopping Rs 16,500 crore via private placement of Non-Convertible debentures (NCDs) and foreign currency bonds for refinancing debt and paying off spectrum liabilities. According to the company’s BSE filing, the board has approved the issuance of NCDs of upto Rs 10,000 crore on a private placement basis and the issuance of foreign currency bonds up to a limit of $1 billion (Rs 6,482 crore) or equivalent in one or more tranches.

According to the company’s statement, the fundraising plan is subject to shareholder and other requisite approval. Further, the company said that an earlier approval received from the shareholders is valid for a period of 1 year up to March 13, 2018, and the company intends to obtain a fresh approval from shareholders.

Last week, Bharti Airtel had announced plans to raise up to Rs 3,000 crore through non-convertible debentures for routine treasury activities such as meeting spectrum liabilities and refinancing debt. The company has been in the news of late and has announced  that it will acquire the India leg of Gulf Bridge International (GBI) India–Middle East–Europe submarine cable. Interestingly, GBI is global cloud provider for the Middle-East and Europe. Laying out its aggressive plans, the Sunil Mittal-run company has also agreed to formulate joint ‘Go to Market’ strategies with GBI to leverage the footprint of their respective global networks.

Bharti Airtel has also received the NCLT approval for its proposed merger with Norway’s Telenor. Meanwhile, Sunil Mittal said that the company has no option but to legally challenge TRAIs order, after the telecom regulator had fixed a penalty of Rs 50 lakh per circle for every tariff plan that is found to be predatory, which will be determined on the basis of average variable cost of the carrier.

According to TRAIs recent order, the telecom regulator will determine whether there is specific intention to reduce or kill competition on a case-by-case basis. Further, the onus to prove that there is no predatory pricing will be on the telecom operator under investigation.

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