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Idea to raise Rs 2000 Cr through issue of private bonds

Idea Cellular is planning to raise Rs 2000 crore by issuing unsecured redeemable bonds on a private placement basis, the company informed stock exchanges yesterday. It plans to sell non-convertible debentures (NCDs) which offers 8.04% interest for a tenure of 5 years. The bonds will be allotted in the National Stock Exchange (NSE) by 27thth January 2017 and the maturity date will be 17th January 2022.

Note that this is Idea’s fourth proposal to raise funds via private bonds in the past two months, taking the total propsal amount to Rs 4000 crore. In this month, Idea proposed to raise Rs 500 crore by way of private bonds with an interest rate of 7.77%. In the same month, it issued another proposal to raise Rs 1,000 crore via private bonds with an interest rate of 7.57%. Last month it issued unsecured redeemable NCDs worth Rs 1,500 crore with a 7.57% interest rate in the NSE.

The company’s consecutive bonds issues come after it revealed plans to upgrade all of its 17 service areas to 3G and/or 4G by March 2017. Currently, it has 4G services in 10 circles and plans to deploy 4G services in 9 new service areas by March 2017 using newly acquired spectrum in this year’s auctions. On the other hand, new entrant Reliance Jio which runs 4G in all 22 circles is also raising Rs 30,000 crore to expand its 4G coverage and network capacity, taking its overall investment to approximately Rs 1.9 lakh crore.

India’s telecom sector is going through a rather competitive phase with Reliance Jio’s launch, which is currently providing free data/voice up till March 2017. Post Jio launch, Idea’s net profit fell significantly by 99.36% Year-on-Year to Rs 4.3 crore in Q2 FY17. However, the company’s 4G base grew 70% quarter-on-quarter to 3.073 million 4G customers in the same quarter. Note that Jio claims 72.4 million 4G subscribers as of January 2017.

Investment in fiber and 4G

Idea invested Rs 100 crore in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana circles last month for expanding its 4G and 3G infrastructure. It also upgraded its fiber network base that spans over 126,000 kilometers and claimed to have 8,160 access points across its Fiber line during Q2 FY17. It utilizes these fiber points as a backbone support for its mobile broadband services.

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