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CGMs of BSNL and MTNL to identify assets upto Rs 10 crore for monetisation

The department of telecommunications (DoT) has asked state-owned firms BSNL and MTNL to identify core and non-core assets with value up to Rs 10 crore for monetisation, according to people aware of the matter.

BSNL is likely to identify at least 10 such properties in this range in each circle. Though BSNL and MTNL have received a revival package totalling `1.64 trillion from the government, asset monetisation is crucial for them to repay debts and meet capital expenditure requirements.

The chief general managers (CGMs) of all circles have been asked to identify the assets that are within the powers of the BSNL board and can be easily monetised, according to two government officials. The CGMs have been given around three months to complete the task, on the basis of which BSNL will share the monetisation target with DoT.

As of February, the BSNL board has approved transaction advisors for nine properties, with total indicative value of around Rs 50 crore.

The government’s move to identify more such smaller properties is significant given that it has not been able to achieve concrete results with regard to monetising assets of these two firms that are of higher value. While approving the first revival package of Rs 69,000 crore for BSNL and MTNL in 2019, the Cabinet also gave its approval to monetise assets.

As per the policy for monetisation of land and building assets of BSNL and MTNL, for sale of assets with value below Rs 10 crore the companies will not require approval of a Group of Ministers (GoM). Properties with value of over Rs 10 crore and up to Rs 100 crore can only be monetised with the approval of a GoM constituted for the purpose. Monetisation of properties valued `100 crore and above will be taken up by the department of public enterprises (DPE), which was earlier with the department of investment and public asset management (DIPAM).

In February, DoT informed the standing committee on communications and IT that DIPAM had approved monetisation of assets of BSNL worth Rs 18,200 crore and six assets of MTNL worth Rs 5,158 crore. Of these, four BSNL properties with reserve price of Rs 670 crore and two MTNL properties with reserve price of Rs 290 crore were taken for e-auction.

However, issues such as permissions from state governments or local bodies and title ownership of assets, have held up the process.

The DoT also informed the parliamentary panel that the four BSNL properties had not received eligible bids and therefore the company would review the terms and conditions of auction and recall the bids.

The BSNL board has also sought GoM approval on 14 properties valuing between Rs 10-100 crore. The total indicative value of these 14 properties is `600 crore, DoT informed the parliamentary panel.

While value of total assets of BSNL was not available, MTNL has an asset base worth about Rs 30,000 crore.

“With regard to MTNL, the Committee notes that most of the assets in Mumbai are having issues of reservation/ designation and this is hampering the monetisation prospect of these properties. MTNL is pursuing with the Maharashtra Government for removal of reservation/designation,” said the parliamentary committee in its report.

The committee has asked the government to address the issues at the earliest and expedite the monetisation of assets of BSNL and MTNL. Financial Express

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