Cell C turns to Blue Label and banks to refinance debt

Cell C said it has refinanced R1.4 billion ($100 million) of debt on better terms with loans from its biggest shareholder and a consortium of banks as the South African wireless carrier considers a listing in 2020.

South Africa’s third-largest operator is also in talks with vendors including Huawei for an additional facility of R1.4 billion to fund capital expenditure, a company representative said by email in response to questions.

Cell C emerged last year from a protracted debt-restructuring rescue plan with Blue Label Telecoms taking a 45% stake.

That restructuring reduced Cell C’s debt by two-thirds to less than R6 billion, but much of the remainder was still funded at onerous terms with interest rates as high as 17%.

Better terms and new financing will help Cell C improve its results, which have been burdened by high interest-rate payments.

In turn, those results have hit Blue Label Telecoms’s shares, which have dropped almost 70% since it took the stake in Cell C.

Cell C, which competes with MTN Group Ltd. and Vodacom Group Ltd. in South Africa, is planning to sell shares in Johannesburg by the first quarter of 2020 to fund acquisitions, CEO Jose Dos Santos said 21 August.


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