Top Sri Lankan telecom operator Dialog raising $150 mn debt

 Top Sri Lankan telecom operator Dialog raising $150 mn debt

Dialog Axiata PLC, Sri Lanka’s top mobile network operator, is raising $150 million in debt capital to refinance existing loans and meet its capex requirements.

The unit of Malaysian telecommunications giant Axiata Group Berhad is mobilising the loan from International Finance Corporation, the private-sector investment arm of the World Bank Group.

IFC said this is the second time it is investing in Dialog Axiata. It had previously invested in 2007 and exited in 2018.

Axiata Group owns 83% of Dialog, which is listed on the Colombo Stock Exchange, while public shareholders hold the remaining stake.

Dialog provides mobile and fixed telephony, broadband, satellite television, infrastructure services and other digital services. As of 2021, it had a total of 17.7 million mobile subscribers—representing about 51% market share.

The company has been expanding its 4G mobile and fixed broadband capacities over the past years. It has achieved a 4G mobile population coverage of 95% and a 4G fixed broadband population coverage of 71%, per IFC.

IFC said Dialog will use the loan, along with its operational cash flows and existing cash balances, to meet its funding needs for the next two years.

The company’s requirements include capital costs of upgrades to its core network, 4G coverage and capacity expansion, and spectrum acquisition, as well as refinancing of its US dollar loans maturing in 2022 and 2023.

Dialog currently has around 4,000 telecom towers, out of which around 40% are shared towers owned by other operators. The company has plans to add another 300-400 towers, which are still in the planning stage.

Sumit Upadhyaya

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