BSNL seeks government nod to float subsidiaries

In its letter to the Prime Minister’s Office and the Department of Telecom, the company board said along with an overhaul of the company, creating separate entities for infrastructure-related businesses were also the need of the hour, sources  said.

Pitroda panel
The company has a huge land bank worth thousands of crores of rupees in around 3,600 towns. Though the company is yet to evaluate its property value, officials in the telecom department said in seven major cities, it has 2.5 million square metre land. 

The Sam Pitroda committee appointed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had recently recommended creating separate companies to run its infrastructure arm comprising towers as well as land banks. All private telecom companies have independent subsidiaries to manage their infrastructure business.

Staff resistance
In the letter, the company also requested the government to hand over the required land documents to enable it to hive off its real estate assets at the earliest. “Unlocking land bank will have a greater advantage for the company as it could pump generated fund for its expansion”, said an official in the ministry.

Amidst the strong resistance from employees, the BSNL board already accepted the Pitroda committee’s recommendation to divest 30 per cent of its stake through public issue and axe one lakh employees out of the total three lakh staff.  
Worried over the plight of the state-run telecom behemoth which is struggling to keep pace with private players, the prime minister had appointed the Pitroda Committee to suggest measures for a complete overhaul.
The company’s net profit had fallen from Rs 3009 crore in 2007-08 to Rs 575 crore in March 2009.  
DH News Service

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