Reliance Industries Ltd. plans to refinance a significant portion of about $12 billion of borrowings that mature over the next three years and may sell bonds to repay the debt, according to company executives with knowledge of the matter. India’s largest company by market value will repay some of the debt coming due, mostly bonds and interest, the officials said, asking not to be identified discussing confidential matters. Reliance’s repayments from 2018 through 2020 will be its biggest for any previous three-year period and include about $8.14 billion of term loans, $3.52 billion of bonds and a $300 million revolver loan, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. It also has about $1.65 billion of interest payments, the data show.
Reliance’s borrowings have ballooned over the past five years as the group invested in building its telecom business, a pet coke gasification unit and in expanding petrochemicals capacities. The plan to tap the bond market is part of a larger trend that’s seen Indian corporates choosing bonds over loans for the first time in at least a decade. One of the fastest economic growth rates in the world and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s reforms have attracted global funds to India, reducing costs for issuers. “There is a lot of appetite among investors for Indian issuers,” said Raj Kothari, head of trading at Jay Capital Ltd. in London. “Reliance being the biggest company from India with solid finances, there would be no challenges for the company in refinancing its debt.”
Controlled by second-richest Asian Mukesh Ambani, Reliance has sufficient cash though it won’t use it to repay maturing debt as the company’s credit ratings and strong finances enable it to raise funds at competitive rates, the people said. A Reliance spokesman did not respond to an email seeking comment. S&P Global Ratings has a BBB+ score on Reliance’s long-term debt, two levels above the sovereign; while Moody’s has the company at Baa2, a notch above the Indian government. Reliance’s $1 billion 4.125 percent 2025 notes was quoted at 139 basis points over U.S. treasuries, the tightest spread since issuance, and lower than the average of 185 basis points on an index of Indian investment-grade debt compiled by Bank of America Merrill Lynch. The company earned about 94 billion rupees, or about a quarter of the company’s profit before tax, in the year ended March by investing its surplus cash in interest bank deposits, debt securities and other instruments, according to its annual report.
Reliance has yet to decide whether to raise the funds for refinancing through local- or foreign-currency bonds, according to the people. The company hasn’t decided on the timing of any new issuance or on the amount it plans to raise, though it will probably use several tranches as debt matures, they said. India’s second-largest oil refiner had outstanding debt of more than $31 billion as on June 30 and cash of about $11 billion. Reliance generated an operating profit of about 147 billion rupees ($2.3 billion) in the quarter ended June, which suggests that the figure could be around 588 billion rupees for this financial year. Reliance’s reported debt numbers may actually increase over the next two to three years due to planned investments of about 550 billion rupees in the current fiscal and a “significant payment” due for capital spending and deferred liabilities, Kotak Securities had said in a report last month.