In its ongoing drive to maintain and grow its position as the leading integrated communications provider in Bahrain and the region, Batelco, Bahrain Telecommunication Company, has signed an agreement with a consortium of regional and international banks. Arab Banking Corporation (ABC) and Standard Chartered are the Initial Mandated Lead Arrangers and Underwriters for the debut US$485 million loan to fund Batelco’s regional expansion plans in the MENA region.
The two major banking institutions, ABC and Standard Chartered, have arranged the debut financing which received strong response from the international and regional bank market and was oversubscribed by more than 60%. The syndicated bank group comprises of 14 other regional and international banking institutions in addition to the underwriters ABC and Standard Chartered:-
Mandated Lead Arrangers:
- National Bank of Bahrain B.S.C.
- The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, Ltd.
- Mizuho Corporate Bank, Ltd.
- National Bank of Abu Dhabi
- The Royal Bank of Scotland plc
- SG Corporate & Investment Banking
- Bank of China (Hong Kong) Limited
- Raiffeisen Zentralbank Österreich Aktiengesellschaft
- Ahli United Bank B.S.C.
- BBK B.S.C.
- The Export-Import Bank of the Republic of China
- Intesa Sanpaolo S.p.A., Singapore Branch
- Landesbank Baden-Württemberg, London Branch
The signing ceremony took place at Batelco’s Hamala Headquarters, 10th April. In attendance were Batelco Chairman Shaikh Hamad bin Abdulla Al Khalifa, Batelco Chief Executive Peter Kaliaropoulos, ABC Head of Syndications John McWall, ABC VP Syndications Umer Sultan, Standard Chartered Bank – Bahrain CEO Martin Fish, Standard Chartered Bank Regional Head of Client Relationships Middle East and North Africa John Iossifidis, plus a number of officials from Batelco, the participating banks and legal representative Norton Rose.
The debut three-year Syndicated Term Loan Facility for Batelco originally set at $300 million was oversubscribed by 60% and subsequently increased to $485 million.
“This loan agreement is a positive response to Batelco from 16 major financial institutions and indicates strong support for the Kingdoms’ leading telecommunications company,” stated Shaikh Hamad.
“Moreover, the loan facility will enable Batelco to realise its aspirations to grow the company regionally and become an increasingly dominant force in the integrated communications industry in Bahrain and MENA,” he added.
Mr. McWall stated that ABC is delighted to have been given the opportunity to arrange this important financing for Batelco together with Standard Chartered.
“Batelco is a much-valued client of ABC and arranging this facility builds further on that excellent relationship.”
“We are delighted by the success of the syndication and we are extremely proud to have such a prestigious group of banks alongside us. The syndicate represents leading financial institutions from across Europe, North America, Asia and the Gulf Region,” Mr. McWall said.
Mr. Fish added that it was Batelco’s strong reputation in the Kingdom and their emergence as a leader in the region’s telecommunications industry that had won the support of Standard Chartered and the other participants.
“With Batelco’s purchase of Umniah last year and the company’s recent acquisition of a 20% shareholding in SabaFon, all eyes are on Batelco and confidence is high in its prospects for future growth,” stated Mr. Fish.
Mr. Kaliaropoulos elaborated that Batelco plans to continue its regional expansion drive through targeted acquisitions of other operators and licences to add to its most recent acquisitions of Umniah and shareholding in Sabafon.
“Whilst our origins are in Bahrain and we have to drive a ‘Customers First’ strategy of continuous operational improvement in Bahrain, to deliver growth and dividends, we also have to tap into growing markets larger than Bahrain either directly or with partners and this loan facility will enable us to realise our ambitions.”