Moody’s puts Airtel on ratings downgrade watch, Telecom News, ET Telecom

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KOLKATA: Moody’s Investors Service has put Bharti Airtel on a ratings downgrade watch, citing fears of extra cashflow bother and profitability pangs, notably in its important India enterprise which has been dented by a brutal worth battle.

The international ratings company has “placed on review for downgrade” the Sunil Mittal-led telco’s “Baa3 issuer and senior unsecured rating,” and likewise the ratings outlook on “senior unsecured notes issued by Bharti’s wholly-owned unit, Bharti Airtel International (Netherlands) BV”.

The assessment for downgrade is primarily pushed by expectations that Bharti’s money move era will stay weak and leverage elevated, Annalisa DiChiara, vp & senior credit score officer, Moody’s stated in an announcement Thursday.

According to Moody’s, the assessment displays Bharti Airtel’s decrease ranges of profitability, notably from its core Indian cellular operations, detrimental free money move and better debt ranges to fund capital spending.

“As we believe a more rational competitive environment in India’s Telecom market is unlikely over the next 12-18 months, the (ratings) review reflects uncertainty as to whether the company’s profitability, cash flow situation and debt levels can improve sustainably and materially over the same period,” Moody’s stated.

Airtel managed to eke out a Rs 119 crore internet revenue on a consolidated foundation — helped by distinctive positive aspects — within the fiscal second quarter to September, however its India losses worsened attributable to excessive prices and the telco additionally misplaced thousands and thousands of subscribers amid a unbroken worth battle with Reliance Jio Infocomm.

The international ratings company has warned that any additional deterioration in Airtel’s working efficiency, notably, within the Indian cellular section, “such that the earnings and cash flows or revenue market share contracts from current levels, would lead to a downgrade”.

Moody’s, nevertheless, expects a majority of the $1.25 billion not too long ago raised by Bharti’s Africa unit for use to pare debt, however expects the corporate’s leverage to “improve only marginally”.

“Bharti’s consolidated adjusted debt to Ebitda was around 4.5x on September 30,” Moody’s stated.

Accordingly, the ratings assessment will focus on Airtel’s commitments and plans to considerably cut back debt ranges considerably over a brief span, and its plans to show across the underlying Indian cellular operations.

Airtel’s ratings “could be downgraded” if the corporate fails to make use of the proceeds acquired from placement of shares of its Africa arm with international traders or its proposed capital-raising actions for debt discount, Moody’s stated.

Bharti, it stated, is changing into more and more dependent on a major turnaround of the underlying Indian operations to make sure a sustainable degree of monetary well being supportive of an funding grade score.

Airtel’s Africa arm not too long ago raised $1.25 billion (Rs 9200 crore) by concluding a placement of shares to 6 international traders within the run-up to its preliminary public supply (IPO), which individuals conscious say, is probably going in May-June 2019.

The firm is anticipated to lift an analogous quantity by way of the IPO as nicely, sources stated.

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