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18 Apr 2001
MOODY'S ASSIGNS Baa3 TO ROGERS WIRELESS INC.'S NEW SENIOR SECURED NOTE ISSUE
New York, April 18, 2001 -- Moody's Investors Service assigned a Baa3 rating (on April 16, 2001) to Rogers Wireless Inc.'s (formerly Rogers Cantel Inc.) new $400 million senior secured notes due 2011. Rogers Wireless Inc. (RWI) is the wholly owned subsidiary of Rogers Wireless Communications Inc. (formerly Rogers Cantel Mobile Communications Inc.), a public company majority owned by Rogers Communications Inc. (senior unsecured rated Ba2) and 33% owned by an AT&T/British Telecom partnership. The Baa3 rating reflects: the company's status as the largest wireless provider (by subscriber count) and its status as a nationwide wireless provider in Canada covering 93% of the Canadian population in analogue mode and 83% in digital mode; the benefits that are imputed to it by its minority shareholders AT&T and British Telecom; its willingness to strengthen its credit profile and financial flexibility through equity issuance and moderating financial leverage. The rating outlook is stable.
RWI recently acquired 23 new spectrum licenses, including 10-20 MHz in all major markets, in order to execute its new 3G strategy for enhanced wireless data capabilities. The total cost of the new licenses, US$394 million, was fully funded by the issuance of equity. Proceeds of the new debt issue will be used help fund the company's expected capital expenditures for its 3G build out through the end of 2003.
With about 2.6 million wireless voice subscribers and nationwide digital network coverage, RWI is poised to benefit, in terms of both increasing subscriber growth and operational economies of scale, from being Canada's strongest national digital cellular operator. Historically, the company has suffered as competition within the wireless space appeared as a result of PCS license issuance by the government. As the market evolved and with consolidation, Bell Mobility and Telus have market shares approaching RWI's 29% share of the subscriber base. Early competition resulted in increased churn and stagnating subscriber growth. Management's early attempts to reinvent itself through new marketing and pricing plans stumbled, until the company underwent a restructuring which essentially reduced costs. With a more competitive cost structure in place, and effective marketing of new price plans, subscriber growth rebounded in 1999 and 2000, with 24% and 17% growth respectively, as the strength of the company's dominant network became paramount.
In August 1999, AT&T and British Telecom together purchased a one-third interest in Wireless for Cdn$1.4 billion. The proceeds, shared by both RWI and Rogers Communications, were used to reduce the RWI's high debt levels which lowered its leverage ratio to under 3.5 times (excluding intercompany debt), a long-term policy Moody's expects the company will maintain. The AT&T/BT investment reduced Rogers Communications ownership stake in the company on a fully diluted basis to 51% (67% voting rights). However, it provides RWI with access to deep pocketed global communications giants, which should help the company to further reduce costs through economies of scale and to take advantage of their wireless innovations particularly with the 3G roll out.
RWI, with its headquarters in Toronto, Canada, with 51% of its equity owned by Rogers Communication and 33% owned by BT/AT&T, is Canada's largest wireless telephone company. Rogers Communications, also headquartered in Toronto, Canada is a diversified public communications company with interests in cable television, mobile communications, publishing, and broadcasting.
No Related Data.
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