Nokia seeks $1 bln from bonds to help drive fightback

Mobile phone maker Nokia plans to raise 750 million euros by issuing bonds that can be converted into shares, seeking a cheap way to bolster its fragile finances as it battles to claw back market share lost to Apple and Samsung.

Once the world's biggest mobile phone maker, the Finnish firm has fallen far behind Apple's iPhone and Samsung's Galaxy phones in the lucrative smartphone market, and is pinning its hopes for recovery on new models that go on sale next month.

With its cash reserves falling and its credit ratings cut to junk over the past year, analysts have said Nokia needs to show a turnaround in the next several months if it is to survive.

The (job)hunt begins...

The Finnish firm has fallen far behind Apple's iPhone and Samsung's Galaxy phones


Its shares fell over 7 percent to around 2 euros in Tuesday afternoon trade as investors worried the eventual conversion of the new bonds into stock would reduce earnings per share.

But analysts said the choice of convertible bonds - which normally pay lower interest rates than normal bonds because they offer investors the chance of making money when they are converted into shares - was a smart one.

"It is a rather cheap way to get extra financing," said Evli analyst Mikko Ervasti. "They need buffers (and) their 2014 bond also requires financing."

Nokia's net cash fell to 3.6 billion euros in September from 4.2 billion in June. It also finished the third quarter with 3.8 billion euros in interest-bearing liabilities, with 1.75 billion in bonds and loans maturing in 2014.

Additionally, the company owns half of network equipment venture Nokia Siemens Networks, which finished the quarter with 1.4 billion euros in liabilities.

The convertible bonds will be due in 2017 and will pay a coupon between 4.25 percent and 5.00 percent. The initial price for conversion into ordinary shares is expected to be 28-33 percent above the average price of Nokia shares between the launch and pricing of the offering.


Nokia's fortunes hinge on its top-of-the-range Lumia 820 and 920 models, which run on Microsoft's new Windows Phone 8 software. The phones, which come in vivid colours and have high-resolution cameras, will hit the stores in November.

On Tuesday, the group unveiled the lower price Lumia 510, which is an update of the Lumia 610 but does not use the newest version of Windows software. The 510 has a larger screen and will be sold for around $199, excluding taxes and subsidies.

ING analysts welcomed the convertible bonds plan as reducing uncertainty around Nokia's short-term debt maturities and bolstering its capital.

"It also shows that the company is taking the question marks around its credit quality seriously and is willing to take the steps necessary to improve this," they said in a research note.

Nokia's five-year credit default swaps were trading around 2.8 percent tighter in earlier trading, meaning lower costs of insuring the company against default.

The final terms of the convertible bonds, including the conversion price and maximum number of shares which may be issued upon conversion, will be announced later in the day. Trading in the bonds are due to start around October 26.

BofA Merrill Lynch, Barclays, Citi and Deutsche are the joint bookrunners.



Published Date: Oct 24, 2012 01:55 am | Updated Date: Oct 24, 2012 01:55 am