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Centre begins monetising landholdings of BSNL, MTNL

Wednesday, 08 Jul 2020
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The Union government has started the process of monetising landholdings of state-owned telcos Bharat Sanchar Nigam (BSNL) and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam (MTNL).

In a definite first step, the Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM) has appointed consultancy firms CBRE Group, JLL and Knight Frank to look at the feasibility of such a sale during the pandemic.

The consultants will submit their reports by the end of July 2020.

The asset monetisation of BSNL and MTNL, estimated to fetch around Rs 37,500 crore, was discussed at a meeting in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) recently.

The consultants will look at the valuation of the assets, along with the current market scenario, while preparing their reports.

The sale of the land bank of BSNL and MTNL is expected to help the government offer relief packages to the financially stressed state telcos.

Monetising real estate assets is part of the overall relief package that will be used to retire debts, upgrade networks, and offer a voluntary retirement scheme (VRS) aimed at reducing the telcos’ employee strength by half.

The real estate assets primarily include land as well as rental and leasing of buildings. MTNL has around 29 retail outlets in Delhi alone.

The relief package includes a sovereign bond issue worth Rs 15,000 crore to be serviced by these PSUs. Also, BSNL and MTNL will be allotted 4G spectrum at an administered price, pegged at the 2016 auction value.

The asset sale will be an important exercise for payment of VRS compensation to the staff of BSNL and MTNL. Asset sale is not a one-time exercise and will be spread over a couple of years.

DIPAM will work in close coordination with the two companies and the  Department of Telecommunications.

 
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