Loss-making state-owned telecom firm Mahanagar Telephone Nigam (MTNL) has moved a proposal to the department of telecommunications to monetise its real estate assets spread over Delhi and Mumbai. The firm, which has been posting losses for the past more than five fiscals with almost stagnant revenues, is aiming to raise around Rs 4,000 crore through a combination of selling its land bank and leasing its buildings. The proposal is based on a valuation exercise conducted by real estate consultancy firm Jones Lang LaSalle. “MTNL approached the DoT with a proposal to sell or lease 11-12 of its land banks and built-up space in Mumbai and Delhi. It expects to raise a little over Rs 4,000 crore from the exercise,” an official said. The operator, which provides services only in Delhi and Mumbai as per its licence condition, has a total of around 2.5 million sq ft of commercial land and 4 million sq ft of residential assets spread over the two cities, and a large part of these can be monetised either through sale or leasing for commercial purposes.
DoT officials said that monetising land is a viable idea, but it would like to first assess whether this is the best time to sell property to realise its true value. In any case, the DoT is fine with the firm renting out its properties. In Delhi, for instance it can fetch huge rentals as its properties are at prime commercial locations of Nehru Place, Chanakyapuri and Karol Bagh.
MTNL is a listed firm with the government’s stake at 56.93%. MTNL’s rental income in FY17 stood at around Rs 195 crore and is expected to increase to Rs 220 crore in the current fiscal.
The operator’s total debt is around Rs 19,000 crore. In FY17, MTNL reported a turnover of Rs 3,552 crore, and a net loss of Rs 3,081 crore. Its total expenditure during the year was almost double its income at Rs 6,497 crore. Its wage bill is 99% of its revenue.
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In a highly competitive telecom market, MTNL has a total subscriber base of only 3.63 million. Its active user base is 54.50%, which means almost of its users are inactive.
Rishi Ranjan Kala