Airtel looks to IFC to boost African operation

Airtel looks to IFC to boost African operation

The pan-African operator Airtel Africa, a division of India’s Bharti Airtel, is reportedly planning to raise $194 million via debt from the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector lending arm of the World Bank.

According to local press reports the IFC funding will support Airtel Africa’s capex and loan refinancing needs in seven key markets: Kenya, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, Niger, Republic of Congo and Zambia. 

On its website the IFC says: “The proposed investment comprises up to US$150 million from IFC’s own account and up to US$44 million in mobilization from Managed Co-Lending Portfolio Program (“MCPP”) to support Airtel Africa’s network investment across seven subsidiaries as well as refinancing its existing loans.”

As India’s Economic Times news service points out (and we recently reported) Bharti’s African operation is on something of an upward trajectory at the moment. It completed its first full year of profitability in the 2018 financial year and has also closed a number of major deals over the past 12 months, adding some $500 million to its coffers as part of its continued pursuit of strategic asset monetisation and investment opportunities.

It has said it aims to explore a potential listing of its mobile money business within the next three to four years.

Fundraising has been a theme among the giant Indian players recently. Vodafone Idea, in a stock exchange filing, has announced that it is planning to raise around Rs 14,500 crore (just under $2 billion) in equity from Vodafone Group, Aditya Birla Group and external investors. This, however, is subject to shareholder approval.

And, as we reported earlier today, another Indian telecommunications giant, Reliance Jio Infocomm, is raising INR 57 billion (just under US$750 million) through an offshore syndicated loan, mainly in order to fund future capex needs.

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