StanChart dials up deal

City A.M. Reporter
STANDARD Chartered (StanChart) Bank could underwrite up to $5bn (&pound;3bn) to back Bharti Airtel&rsquo;s $23bn tie-up with South African telecom operator MTN, according to banking sources.<br /><br />The sources said the bank was expecting to underwrite the full amount of the financing for the proposed deal, or as much as $5bn. If the deal materialises, StanChart is expected to syndicate the loan. StanChart, which is advising Bharti on the transaction, was previously reported to have agreed to underwrite $1bn of the deal. But sources yesterday said the bank could back the entire offer. Bharti&rsquo;s billionaire chairman, Sunil Mittal, is an independent non-executive director of StanChart.<br /><br />Such a hefty financing offer from a single bank is unusual in the current climate, as tight credit markets have made acquisition financing scarce. Deals in need of leveraged finance have lately required several banks, such as KKR&rsquo;s $1.9bn agreement to buy South Korea&rsquo;s Oriental Brewery, which had at least four lenders behind it.<br /><br />Bharti and MTN last week said they had restarted merger talks that would create a leading emerging markets telecoms group.