Raja to review BSNL's financial position ahead of stake sale

Telecom minister A Raja has convened a review meeting to take stock of the poor financial showing by Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) and to discuss, among other things, the listing and divestment plans of the telecom PSU.

The stake sale and IPO plans come after BSNL reported a 30-fold dip in its net profit to Rs104 crore in FY'09 from over Rs3,000 crore a year ago.

BSNL employees, meanwhile, have opposed the divestment plan. They have voiced concern over the stake sale plan and said they would observe 22 July as "Anti-Disinvestment Day."

The government has proposed to list BSNL and Telecommunications Consultants India Limited (TCIL), but has not yet decided on a timeline.

"Two of our companies - BSNL and TCIL - are not yet listed. We would like to list them with 10 per cent divestment, offloading 10 per cent in each of them initially. But the timeline will be decided in consultation with the finance ministry," telecom secretary Siddharth Behuria said at a function.

It is, however, still not known how far the government will push its stake reduction plan.
A BSNL equity sale, while fetching money for cash-strapped government, is also expected to get private management for bringing efficiency to the working of the telecom major.