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CONFIDENCE IN GULF

Qtel two-part bond sale to total $1 billion

Doha, January 23, 2013

 

Qatar Telecom plans to raise $1 billion from a bond sale on Wednesday, the second Gulf borrower this week to benefit from low borrowing costs to secure long-term funding.
 
The majority state-owned company added a 30-year tranche to a 15-year bond announced earlier in the day, because demand - particularly from international investors - was so strong, traders said.
 
Gulf companies are taking advantage of tightening spreads by raising money from the bond market to meet their expansion and refinancing needs.
 
Qtel has been raising stakes in its subsidiaries, benefiting from gas-rich Qatar's healthy financial position at a time when other telecom companies are not doing deals. It increased its stake in Iraqi telco Asiacell and Kuwaiti unit Wataniya last year.
 
The 30-year maturity appeals to US insurers and pension funds, looking to buy and hold corporate debt for the long run.
 
"There is a lot of interest from non-GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) institutional investors," said one regional banker who declined to be identified.
 
"It is the right move by both issuers as there is demand, and it is a bargain for them," he said, referring to an oversubscribed bond from Dubai on Tuesday.
 
The sovereign also added a 30-year portion to that deal, and secured tight pricing due to strong demand. International investors were allocated 88 percent of the longer-dated paper.
 
STRONG DEMAND
 
Strong demand allowed Qtel, rated A by rating agency Standard & Poor's, to tighten price guidance on its 15-year bond to 230 basis points over US Treasuries, from 250 bps. Guidance for the 30-year portion was set at 180 bps over 30-year U.S. Treasuries.
 
Both tranches will be capped at $500 million.
 
The company's last bond, a $1 billion long 10-year issue in December, was oversubscribed.
 
The 3.25 percent 2023 maturity was bid at 99.8 cents on the dollar on Wednesday at 0600 GMT, to yield 3.26 percent. Yields have narrowed 5 bps since Monday, according to Thomson Reuters data.
 
As one of the region's most acquisitive telcos, Qtel has expanded into more than 16 countries in the past decade.
 
It has hired JP Morgan Chase to advise it on a potential bid for Vivendi's Maroc Telecom, a stake nearly worth $6 billion based on current market price, sources told Reuters earlier in December.
 
RBS, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, J.P. Morgan, Citigroup Inc and QNB Capital are joint lead arrangers and bookrunners for Qtel's latest bond deal.  - Reuters



Tags: Qatar | Qtel | bond |

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