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Friday, May 17, 2002

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Corporate - Restructuring

Idea Cellular raises Rs 1,790-cr loan

Kripa Raman

MUMBAI, May 16

IDBI had been able to arrange Rs 1,790 crore as syndicated loan for the mobile telephony services company, Idea Cellular.

This includes a loan of Rs 400 crore from IDBI itself. The other major lenders are IDFC (Rs 250 crore); LIC (Rs 250 crore); and State Bank of India, Bank of India and Canara Bank (Rs 100 crore each), said a senior official with the telecommunications company.

Of this debt, Rs 400 crore would be for fresh capital expenditure, he said. The rest of the loan is for refinancing and restructuring of the earlier loans of Birla AT&T and Tata Cellular, the two companies which merged to form Idea Cellular (earlier known as Birla Tata AT&T). In addition to this, non-rupee debt of around Rs 500 crore was being arranged; the mandate for this was with Bank of America and Deutsche Bank, said the official.

In August last year, the cellular combine had announced its intention to restructure its outstanding loans of Rs 2,000 crore, and had mandated IDBI, Bank of America and Deutsche Bank for the same. Most of the equity was fully in place, said the official. The company's total equity amounts to Rs 2,240 crore, with Rs 500 crore having been invested in year 2001-2002; its debt is intended to be ``around the same figure'', its total project cost to be in the region of Rs 4,500 crore.

The official said the combined entity should achieve financial closure in the next two or three months. Idea Cellular, earlier known as Birla Tata AT&T, is the equal three-way joint venture between the AV Birla group, the Tata group and US telecom company AT&T Ltd.

It operates cellular services in Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra (excluding the metro circle of Mumbai), Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, and is soon to start operations in Delhi. As at April-end, 2002, it had 8.5 lakh subscribers.

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