Etisalat raises $1.2bn through bond sale

Net proceeds will be used for the repayment of existing debt, the company says

Etisalat, in January, announced to increase the foreign ownership limit from 20 per cent to 49 per cent. Courtesy Etisalat
Powered by automated translation

Abu Dhabi-based telecoms operator Etisalat raised €1 billion ($1.21bn) through the issue of new, euro-denominated bonds, the company said on Sunday.

The UAE's biggest telecoms operator issued €500 million of seven-year and €500m of 12-year bonds under its existing $10bn Euro Medium Term Note programme, the company said in a statement to the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange, where its shares trade. The proceeds will be used to repay a €1.2 billion bond that matures in June, it added.

“The bonds issuance was completed after conducting roadshows with international investors on 4 and 5 May,” Etisalat said.

The dual-tranche issue was more than six times oversubscribed, it added.

The seven-year tranche offers an annual interest rate of 0.4 per cent, while the 12-year tranche has a coupon rate of 1 per cent.

HSBC, BNP Paribas, First Abu Dhabi Bank and Societe Generale acted as global coordinators for the bond issue, according to Reuters.

Etisalat, which increased its foreign ownership limit from 20 per cent to 49 per cent in January to attract more external investors, reported a 3.8 per cent rise in net profit to Dh9.03bn last year despite a marginal decline in revenue.

The telecoms operator, which was established more than four decades ago and has its headquarters in Abu Dhabi, has 149 million subscribers in 16 countries in the Middle East, Africa and Asia. Sixty per cent of the company is owned by the Emirates Investment Authority, while the remainder is floated on the ADX.

Companies and governments across the region have taken advantage of record low interest rates to arrange low-cost financing in debt markets. 
In the first quarter of the year, debt issuance from the Middle East and North Africa jumped 61 per cent to $34.8bn, the highest amount in a single quarter since records began in 1980, Refinitiv said in its Mena Investment Banking review last month.

Earlier this month, Abu Dhabi National Energy Company, or Taqa, raised $1.5bn through a dual-tranche bond issue to fund its low-carbon growth plans and buy back some of its outstanding corporate bonds.