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First Overseas Syndicated India Loan Since March Tests Water

Anurag Joshi
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First Overseas Syndicated India Loan Since March Tests Water

(Bloomberg) -- Indian companies that have struggled to borrow money from international banks in recent months amid the pandemic are closely watching how a data firm seeking a dollar loan fares.

Mu Sigma Inc., a data analytics company founded by Indian entrepreneur Dhiraj Rajaram, is marketing an up to $100 million refinancing loan to so-called general syndication. No other Indian borrower has marketed an overseas facility to a broad pool of lenders since March, and offshore loan volumes from India have dropped to the lowest in 11 years so far this quarter.

A successful Mu Sigma deal would be one of the first signs that overseas lenders are becoming less reluctant to extend funds to Indian companies, possibly easing the struggle the corporate sector has faced in fundraising. It’s crucial for Indian firms to be able to secure cash as they need to repay a record $31 billion of overseas debt in 2020, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

A $265 billion economic package unveiled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration in May hasn’t calmed investor concerns, with debt costs on dollar loans for local borrowers at the highest in more than four years. In a sign of how much damage the pandemic is doing to India, the nation’s economy will likely contract 19.9% in the second quarter, according to a Bloomberg News survey of economists.

The margin on Mu Sigma’s deal, at 400 basis points over Libor, is among the highest for Indian dollar loans this year. Investors will be watching whether the surge in borrowing costs has also boosted lenders’ appetite for domestic companies.

A representative at Mu Sigma didn’t immediately reply to an email from Bloomberg News seeking a comment on the financing.

Even if the Mu Sigma sale goes well, broader concerns may linger. The company, which is returning to the loan market after a gap of about three years, is a niche borrower among domestic firms that tap this market, dominated by India’s top-rated conglomerates and the biggest state-owned enterprises.

(Updates with Bloomberg News survey on India’s economic growth in fourth paragraph)

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