Government to offload 10 per cent in BSNL; lines up 60 PSUs for stake sale

A high-level panel, which met under the chairmanship of prime minister Manmohan Singh to review proposals for sale of stake in state-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) on Wednesday, approved immediate sale of 10 per cent government equity in the telecom giant.

The meeting, attended by telecom minister A Raja, BSNL chairman and managing director Kuldeep Goyal, MTNL chairman and managing director R S P Sinha and telecom secretary P J Thomas, also reviewed challenges before both BSNL and MTNL, which have of late been posting losses and losing market share.

The union finance ministry, meanwhile, is in talks with other ministries for selling stakes in around 60 public sector undertakings (PSUs) in the coming years, including mining majors Coal India Ltd and Hindustan Copper Ltd, agency reports quoted a senior official as saying on Thursday.

A report quoting Coal India chairman Partha S Bhattacharyya said the government would divest 10 per cent equity in the navratna PSU in the next financial year and expects to raise an equivalent of $8-10 billion.

"The divestment of government equity up to 10 per cent will take place later this year - that is during fiscal 2010-11 - in the capital market through the book-building process," the report quoted Bhattacharyya as saying.

CIL, a navratna PSU, accounts for 85 per cent of the country's total coal production of 493 million tonnes.
"The divestment process will be in compliance with the regulatory body's guidelines. The valuation and proportionate allotments to institutional and private investors would be taken up once the cabinet clears the proposal," Bhattacharyya said.