ESSAR RAISES $3.6 BILLION FOR TELECOM

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ESSAR group has said it raised $3.59 billion term loan for Essar Communications (India). The loan will be used to refinance existing debt as well as to fund further investment and expansion of the Mumbai-headquartered telecom-to-oil conglomerate.

The group has lined up major capacity expansion plans in oil, steel and power sectors. Last week, Essar Oil’s board approved plans to expand its refinery capacity to 34 million tonnes (MT) per annum from the existing 10.5 MT at a cost of $6 billion by 2010.

The loan facility was fully underwritten and arranged by BNP Paribas, Citigroup, Commerzbank and Standard Chartered. According to banks that arranged the loan, the deal matures on December 8, 2011, and pays a margin of 90 basis points over LIBOR.

Vodafone, the world’s second-largest mobile firm, earlier this year paid $11.1 billion for a controlling stake in Hutchison Essar from Hong Kong-based Hutchison Telecom International.

Vodafone Essar, formerly Hutchison Essar, is a leading telecommunications mobile operator in India with 37 million subscribers as on October 31, representing a 17% national market share. The telecom joint venture operates in 16 circles and has licences in an additional seven circles.

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