04/03/2009 00:00 AST

Qatar Telecom (Qtel) has secured a $1.5bn (QR5.5bn) ‘forward start revolving credit facility’, which the telecom service provider said will be used to refinance an existing loan due to mature in November this year.

QNB was the initial mandated lead arranger and general financial adviser to Qtel on the deal, which was signed in London yesterday.

Qtel said the credit facility would give it ‘enhanced capacity to continue executing its strategic vision to become one of the top 20 telecommunication companies by 2020’. Initial mandated lead arrangers and bookrunners were Bank of Tokyo-Misubishi UFJ, Barclays Capital, BNP Paribas, DBS and Royal Bank of Scotland, who committed $200mn each, according to Reuters.

International Bank of Qatar, JP Morgan Chase, Arab Bank, Doha Bank and Housing Bank for Trade and Finance have also joined the deal with smaller tickets. “The facility is already over-subscribed”, Qtel said.

The service provider also said it will ‘officially extend’ the opportunity to other lenders to join the facility in the general syndication phase.

Qtel’s success in launching the facility is seen as a major achievement in the “current challenging global economic climate”, said financial experts. The deal was signed by Qtel Group chairman Sheikh Abdullah bin Mohammad bin Saud al-Thani.

Present at the function were Qatar’s Ambassador to the UK Khalid Rashid al-Mansouri, deputy chairman of the Qtel Group Sheikh Mohamed bin Suhaim al-Thani, Qtel Group CEODr Nasser Marafih and QNB Group CEO Ali Shareef al-Emadi.

Sheikh Abdullah said: “This is an important milestone in the ongoing development of Qtel. We are deeply gratified by the sustained support afforded by our shareholders and by our international banking partners, particularly given the current market conditions.” Dr Marafih said: “Qtel is sailing on a clearly charted path to become one of the world’s leading telecommunication companies, and the facility will provide us with the financial flexibility necessary to achieve our long-term goals and ambitions.”

Al-Emadi said: “We are very proud to have played a significant part in launching this facility as an initial mandated lead arranger and general financial adviser to Qtel, since this initiative reflects the extent of international support for and interest in the businesses of the dynamic and growing economy of Qatar.”

Commenting on behalf of the initial mandated lead arrangers, Scott Barton, head of Global Banking & Markets Middle East & Africa, RBS, said: “With the successful completion of the first stage and launch of the general syndication, Qtel has raised more than $10bn in the international bank loan markets in just over two years.

“This achievement marks the largest financing for any corporate in the Mena region and one of the largest in the world.”

“The bankers said the borrower would like $2bn and a general syndication will be used to raise the remaining amount,” Reuters said.

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