Thursday, July 22, 2010

What Were They Thinking?: Bharti Airtel US$7.5 Million Loan - "Sour" Skim


You'll recall that Bharti Airtel secured a US$7.5 billion loan last March to fund its purchase of African assets from Zain Kuwait.  Original pricing on this 4.7 average year life loan was 195 basis points with a 20 basis point up front fee.

Subsequent to granting of the loan, S&P reduced Bharti's credit rating from BBB- (investment grade) to BB+ (non investment grade).  It seems now that the lead arrangers have a bit of problem.  Their hoped for skim on the loan has gone sour.  Rather than being able to sell the loan at say 190 basis points margin, the lead arrangers are reportedly finding that the "market" is demanding around 250 basis points.  

I've seen comments that suggest the mark to market would be on the order of US$40 million to 42 million.  Without the exact amortization schedule, it's not practical to calculate.   BofA is reportedly going to mark.

Funny thing is, when the lead arrangers were pricing the deal, S&P put the Company on ratings watch for a possible downgrade.  One would have thought (at least this one) that perhaps the pricing would have been linked to the rating.  Apparently not.

The frenzy with which the loan was bid may be a leading indicator of the end of the banking recession and the return to "happy days".  Though the sour skim may be a contrary sign.

Lead Managers and their reported shares are:
  1. Stan Chart US$1.3 billion
  2. Barclays: US$0.9 billion
  3. ANZ, BNP, BofA, Credit Agricole, DBS, Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi, Sumitomo Mitsui:  US$0.8 billion.
(There's apparently a bit of rounding in the above numbers).

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