Safaricom Eyes Ethiopian Local Currency Debt Market

Safaricom PLC is setting its sights on Ethiopia's burgeoning debt market, planning to raise up to $150 million (equivalent to 8.6 billion Ethiopian Birr) through local currency bonds. This move comes as the country's securities exchange prepares to launch in the third quarter of 2024.

While listing its Ethiopian subsidiary on the exchange isn’t currently on the table, Safaricom’s Chief Financial Officer Dilip Pal recognizes the potential of the debt market for capital acquisition. 

The decision to tap into the local currency market aligns with Safaricom’s recent efforts to reduce exposure to foreign exchange fluctuations. The depreciation of currencies like the Kenyan Shilling and Ethiopian Birr has significantly impacted companies by inflating finance costs.

Safaricom successfully retired a $120 million foreign currency loan taken for Ethiopian operations just a year after acquiring it. This early repayment highlights their focus on mitigating foreign exchange risks.

The upcoming bond issuance signifies Safaricom’s commitment to the Ethiopian market while demonstrating their confidence in the country’s developing financial landscape. This move could pave the way for other companies to explore similar strategies in Ethiopia.

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