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NLMC dragging its feet on BSNL asset monetisation

Government-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) is waiting for the National Land Monetization Corporation (NLMC), to prepare a strategy for the sale of the large portfolio of land and properties that it owns across the country, and which have been earmarked for auction.

Officials said all properties valued above Rs 100 crore are being monetised by the NLMC, a special purpose vehicle under the Finance Ministry’s Department of Public Enterprise. However, the NLMC has been slow to formulate a strategy towards this end, he added.

“The NLMC will create a comprehensive strategy on monetising all land and properties (of BSNL) which are nominally valued at more than Rs 100 crore. DoT will handle assets of lower value. We are ready to help and are waiting for guidance from them,” a senior official with the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) said.

Officials hinted the decision to transfer administrative control over monetisation of high-value properties came after the auctions of six non-core assets of BSNL and Mahanagar Telecom Nigam Ltd received a poor response last year. The November 2021 exercise was the first-ever sale of non-core property assets via auctions.

These properties included BSNL’s land in Hyderabad (worth Rs 400 crore) land in Rajpura (nearly Rs 70 crore), 5-acre land in Bhavnagar (Rs 41 crore), and 11 acres in Kolkata (Rs 161 crore).

MTNL’s 1.36-acre property in Mumbai, valued at Rs 270 crore, and 20 residential flats valued about Rs 20 crore, were also put up for sale.

A year later, on November 14, BSNL had put up a second set of properties for bids last month. The 13 surplus assets are prime properties in Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Telangana and Uttar Pradesh. The reserve auction price for this set was kept at Rs 300-350 crore, the company had said.

The final date for submission of bids was December 5. Officials said these assets have received a better response than the earlier lot, and that more properties would be made available for sale soon.

Slow progress
Back in 2020, loss-making BSNL had identified 14 properties worth Rs 20,160 crore to the Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM), as part of the telecom corporation’s ambitious asset monetisation plans. These land parcels are spread locations like Mumbai, Thiruvananthapuram, Chennai, Ghaziabad and other places.

But this March, the government had announced that DIPAM would monetise 17 properties valued collectively at about Rs 23,358 crore in the first phase–11 assets of BSNL valued at Rs 18,200 crore, and six assets of MTNL worth Rs 5,158 crore.

However, officials on Tuesday told Business Standard that few of the monetisation plans are expected to take off in FY23.

Other PSUs and government departments have been asked to prepare a list of assets that can be monetised through NLMC. The body was incorporated on June 3 as a wholly-owned Government of India company with an initial authorised share capital of Rs 5,000 crore and paid-up share capital of Rs 150 crore.

NLMC will own, hold, manage and monetise such land and assets of PSUs that are to be closed down, alomg with the surplus non-core land assets of government-owned companies under strategic disinvestment.

It will also advise and assist government departments, statutory bodies/authorities, autonomous bodies, and corporations on under-utilised non-core assets. Business Standard

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