April 23, 2012 / 12:47 PM / 6 years ago

Qtel comes calling for $2 billion loan: bankers

LONDON (Reuters) - Qatar Telecom QTEL.QA has sent requests for proposals to international lenders for a $2 billion refinancing loan that will mark its return to the market after a two-year gap, bankers close to the deal said.

“It is one of the few corporates in Qatar that is able to access the market. It is right that Qtel gets centre stage,” one European banker said.

Its record as an annual borrower since 2007 — with the exception of 2011 — of more than $2 billion should help generate momentum for the deal.

Qtel, the Gulf’s third-largest telecoms operator in terms of subscriber numbers with 83 million, declined to comment.

The top-rated company wants to split financing between a $1 billion standby commercial paper facility and a $1 billion revolver. Proceeds will refinance its $3 billion, five-year loan signed in 2007 that matures this October.

Rated A by S&P, A2 by Moody’s and A+ by Fitch, Qtel plans to expand through acquisitions and grow organically, chief executive Nasser Marafih told Reuters in March.

Its plans include the potential buyout of a private equity partner’s stake in Iraq’s No.2 telecoms operator, Asiacell, before offering shares in it to the public, other people close to the company told Reuters in January.

Loan activity in the oil-rich state has been subdued since 2007 because corporates and financial institutions are flush with cash, while many international lenders are grappling with a liquidity crunch.

However, volume may be boosted this year by Qatar’s $5.2 billion of maturing debt, according to Thomson Reuters LPC data.

Additional reporting by Matt Smith; Editing by David Hulmes

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