BSNL may rope in MTNL for Zain deal

State-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd is still keen on bidding for Kuwait's Zain Telecom along with sister public sector undertaking Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd. However, it seems wary about the little-known Vavasi Group leading the deal.

Kuldeep Goyal,''We are not averse to picking up a stake in Zain Telecom. There was a proposal (to buy stake in Zain) on which we have not taken a decision,'' said Kuldeep Goyal, chairman and managing director of BSNL, on the sidelines of a CII event in Kolkata on Thursday.

Goyal said BSNL was still considering whether to join Vavasi and a Malaysian businessman to buy a 46-per cent stake in Zain. The deal, if finalised, would be valued at about $14 billion (over Rs67,000 crore). ''It is a huge deal. So, we have to see what is there in the consortium, what can be done,'' Goyal added.

MTNL has also been approached to join the consortium (See: India-Malaysia group to buy 46 per cent in Kuwait's Zain for $13.7 billion).

But, earlier this month, both the telecom companies had denied any association with such a grouping. Now however BSNL and MTNL may go after a stake Zain by themselves, according to a Moneycontrol report.

Senior BSNL officials said that the company was not averse to striking a deal with Zain, but was cautious on joining hands with Vavasi. No final decision has been taken yet by the two PSUs on the approach to be taken.