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BSNL Stares At Management Woes

As if financial issues were not enough, cash-strapped Bharat Sanchar Nigam (BSNL) is staring at management woes in near future. The vacuum at the top management level of the company seems inevitable as superannuation of some of the directors is on the anvil.

The company’s Chairman and Managing Director, Anupam Shrivastava, holds additional charge of the enterprise business, Vivek Banzal handles consumer fixed access (CFA) and mobility business, and Sujata Ray is the director of human resources. With Ray leaving the office by the end of this month, it would essentially be Shrivastava and Banzal at the helm of affairs.

Shrivastava will be replaced with P K Purwar as the company’s chairman and managing director. Purwar is the current CMD of Mahanagar Telephone Nigam (MTNL).

The Public Enterprises Selection Board (PESB), after considering nine candidates, selected Purwar to take charge of BSNL in June. Purwar declined to comment on the same.

In 2015, Shrivastava was appointed CMD of BSNL for a period of five years or till the time of superannuation age of 60 years.

In May 2018, Purwar was confirmed as a full-time chairman of MTNL, after holding an interim charge. He is expected to take charge of BSNL at a point when the company is grappling with severe financial crisis.

Experts believe anyone who takes the reins at this point in time should ensure there are funds to bring back capex in the company. Through sustained capital expenditure can the company take competition from the private sector.

According to a former official, who did not wish to be quoted, leaner manpower is the need of the hour for BSNL besides 4G rollout as the private companies have an edge on this front. The company may get the 4G spectrum it sought the revival package as the department of telecommunications is believed to have firmed up the proposal of allotting the airwaves to the sick PSU besides giving in to the company’s other demands.

It may be allotted the liberalised spectrum in the 2100 megahertz band at the market price and would be asked to match the auction determined price in the near future. The company, however, had said it wanted the 4G spectrum through 50 per cent capital infusion and 50 per cent market price to be determined from 2015 auctions.

In order to take a decision on the allotment of 4G spectrum, the DoT had sought views from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) that said the final decision rested with the central government.

According to the revival package, BSNL may also get relief in the form of voluntary retirement scheme but without factoring in the pay revision as demanded by the company.

The Union government is also working on a bailout package of Rs 13,000 crore for BSNL, which includes Rs 6,365-crore voluntary retirement package and 4G spectrum allotment through a Rs 6,767-crore equity infusion and monetising real estate.

BSNL’s debt stands at Rs 13,500 crore, while that of the telecom sector is Rs 6.1 trillion.―Business Standard

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