(Ecofin Agency) - Airtel Africa announced it has recently signed various loan agreements totaling about $2.7 billion. The company is in the process of listing on the London Stock Exchange and is also considering listing on the Nigerian Stock Exchange.
The largest financial facility was arranged in May 2019 with Standard Chartered Bank group for a total of $2 billion. During the period, some of the company’s subsidiaries negotiated a $425 million syndicated loan with Citigroup, HSBC Bank and South Africa's Standard Bank.
Under this move, Airtel Uganda obtained a debt restructuring with the South African group Absa Bank for $119 million due at the end of December 2019, which will now be repayable in January 2021. Similarly, in mid-June 2019, Airtel Nigeria secured a N50 billion ($138.6 million) facility from Zenith Bank. And BAIN, Airtel Africa's majority shareholder holding company, negotiated a $75 million loan with JP Morgan Chase's London branch.
These new injections are expected to relieve a drowning Airtel Africa. At the end of March 2019, the company’s debt burden fell sharply, and now represented only three times its EBITDA (Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization), compared with a bit over nine times three years earlier.
Airtel Africa did not provide clear information on what the monies will be directed to, but it sees the digital sector in sub-Saharan Africa as an opportunity and expresses ambition to take advantage of it.
It should also be recalled that over the next 9 months, Airtel Africa and its subsidiaries will have to repay up to $900 million, if the debt restructuring obtained for its Ugandan subsidiary is excluded. Also, a part of the resources mobilized, through its capital opening, will be used to reduce this debt.