RCOM in debt crisis: Lenders to give 7 months time to complete deals

Anil Ambani of Reliance CommunicationsIndian business man Anil Ambani-promoted Reliance Communications (RCOM) said its lenders will give seven months time to complete its deal with Aircel and Brookfield and reduce debt.

Reliance Communications’ financial lenders are expecting that the debt ridden company could reduce its debt from Rs 45,000 crore to approx. Rs 20,000 crore; a reduction of 60 percent or Rs 25,000 crore after finalizing its deals.

Fitch Ratings on June 1 downgraded Reliance Communications’ long-term foreign- and local-currency issuer default ratings (IDRs) to CCC from B+. Fitch has also downgraded the rating on RCOM’s $300 million 6.5 percent senior secured notes due 2020 to CCC/RR4 from B+/RR4.

Reliance Communications is likely to struggle to refinance its maturing short-term debt given declining EBITDA and delays in executing asset sales. The company’s capital structure is unsustainable as FY17 FFO-adjusted net leverage was over 9.0x. Fitch said it does not expect that operating cash flows will improve.

Fitch Ratings said the business model of Reliance Communications is compromised due to fierce price competition in the Indian mobile market. RCOM’s market position is weak and it has limited financial flexibility to invest to strengthen its position or step-up marketing costs.

Reliance Communications said the lenders have constituted a Joint Lenders’ Forum (JLF) to consider and approve the company’s plans. The lenders have taken note of RCOM’s strategic transformation program involving the transactions for wireless and towers business.

“The lenders have proposed to give time of 7 months till December 2017 to complete the two major transactions, and reduce its debt by a substantial amount of Rs 25,000 crore, or 60 percent,” said Reliance Communications in a statement.

RCOM will also present to the lenders its sustainable long term plans for servicing the remaining debt of Rs 20,000 crore. There will be a standstill on the company’s debt servicing obligations for the next 7 months till end December, 2017.

In the event the transactions are not completed in the above timeframe, the lenders may exercise their right to convert their debt, in accordance with applicable SDR guidelines.