India's Reliance Jio seeks up to $2 billion loan to fund 5G plan - report

FILE PHOTO: A woman checks her mobile phone as she walks past a mobile store of Reliance Industries' Jio telecoms unit in Mumbai

BENGALURU (Reuters) -India's Jio Infocomm, the telecom wing of Reliance Industries, is in talks to raise up to $2 billion in offshore loans, with BNP Paribas acting as lead arranger, to fund the purchase of 5G network gear from Ericsson, the Economic Times reported on Monday.

BNP Paribas will provide $1.9 billion-$2 billion over a nine-month period, during which the telecom company, led by billionaire Mukesh Ambani, will pay back Ericsson, BNP and some other banks, the newspaper said, citing a person familiar with the matter.

The report neither mentioned the individual amounts that Jio will pay back to Ericsson, BNP and other entities in the loan deal nor clarified whether BNP was acting on behalf of a consortium.

The fundraise is through a discounted process, and the implicit interest rate will be arrived at over the nine-month period, the report said.

BNP Paribas and Jio Infocomm did not immediately respond to Reuters' request for comment.

Swedish telecommunications firm Ericsson , in October last year said that its 5G Radio Access Network (RAN) products and solutions will be deployed in Jio's 5G rollout in India.

Jio had tied up with Swedish export credit agency EKN for a $2.2 billion funding to finance the equipment and services for the 5G plan, the Indian conglomerate said in its latest annual report.

"The $2.2 billion cover from EKN will likely reduce Jio's overall 5G gear funding costs as global lenders and 5G equipment supplier involved in such a large deal will be more comfortable," ET said, citing another source.

Jio has been in loan talks to help finance its 5G rollout, including reports of signing a deal with Nokia for $1.7 billion.

(Reporting by Hritam Mukherjee in Bengaluru; Editing by Sonia Cheema)