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SBI, HDFC among companies raising $5 billion in overseas bonds

The countrys biggest lender and mortgage-financier, State Bank of India and Housing Development Finance Corp (HDFC), head the list of local companies that would usher in the New Year by raising about $5 billion in overseas bonds, taking advantage of the recent declines in US benchmark yields.

These bonds could be sold in the next three to six weeks, multiple sources with direct knowledge of the mega fund-raising told ET. Alternative energy firm ReNew, motor-fuel retailers Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd (BPCL) and Indian Oil Corp (IOC), and power producer NTPC are the four other companies seeking to raise debt funds that could be used to finance capital assets, refinancing and other corporate purposes.

ReNew, which is launching an equity share sale, is planning to raise about $500 million to $1 billion through bonds, sources said. The two state-owned oil marketing companies and the power producer may raise about $500 each, sources said. HDFC and SBI could raise $2.5 billion between them.

Email queries sent to five of the six issuers remained unanswered until the publication of this report.

“Companies will require growth capital next year amid increasing economic activity,” said Sidharth Rath, MD & CEO, SBM Bank (India). “It is natural that they will be out to raise money both from overseas and domestic markets.”

SBM Bank has obtained the universal banking licence from RBI, and became operational since December 1.

SBI has floated a Request for Proposal (RFP) to choose investment bankers that will help it raise about $1-1.5 billion, including likely oversubscription. Several foreign and domestic banks are seeking to participate in this fund-raising process.

The issues, if successful, will amount to about three-fourths of the bond sale proceeds for the whole of 2018. Offshore bond issuances, largely denominated in dollars and sold to international banks and institutions, have fallen to $6.76 billion until end-November this calendar year.

Bond issuances are the lowest this calendar year since 2009, when companies had sold $2.14 billion in the immediate aftermath of the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression, showed data from global analytics firm Dealogic.

On November 16, ET reported that mortgage lender HDFC was planning to raise up to $1 billion via its maiden dollar bonds, which could be launched either in January or February.

Investment bankers from Bank of America-Merrill Lynch, Barclays, Citi, JP Morgan, MUFG, and Standard Chartered are said to be helping the issuers arrange the funds. Individual banks could not be contacted immediately.

In most cases, those dollar-denominated papers could be of five-year maturity. The proposed overseas securities would be either of “144A” nature, or Regulation S type. The categories would club the institutional investors under two heads – across Asia, Europe and the US, and outside the US only.

Declining US Treasury yields, which are benchmarked for pricing dollar bonds, have prompted Indian companies to look for capital beyond home.

In the past six weeks, the 10-year benchmark UST declined 45 basis points to yield 2.79 per cent. They were at a seven-year high in October, having raced past 3 per cent.

ReNew might beat the others in launching the bond sales next year.

“For ReNew, road shows are nearly complete and the launch is expected before the second week of January. The others are expected in the next few weeks after ReNew,” said one of the sources cited above.

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