MTNL has a huge staff strength of 27,919 that needs to be taken care of. The telecom PSU, with operations in Delhi and Mumbai, reported a turnover of Rs 2,870 crore and a loss of Rs 2,941 crore in FY17.
The government, which has made little progress in carrying out strategic sales of the 40 central public sector enterprises (CPSEs) including Air India from four earlier lists given by NITI Aayog, has received a fresh list of 11 CPSEs for privatisation from the official think tank. Bharat Heavy Electricals (BHEL), Hindustan Copper (HCL), the ailing MTNL, Telecommunications Consultants India (TCIL) and Mecon topped the new array of companies that could be put up for sale, according to NITI Aayog. The details such as quantum of stake sale in each of the CPSEs would be finalised by the group of secretaries on disinvestment headed by the Cabinet secretary, a source said, confirming the NITI Aayog’s latest recommendation.
Of these new firms identified for stake sales, BHEL has a market capitalisation of Rs 29,647 crore as per the share price of the firm on May 11 on the BSE. The integrated power plant equipment manufacturer reported a turnover of Rs 29,475 crore and a net profit of Rs 496 crore in FY17. Another profitable and listed firm identified for privatisation is HCL, which reported a turnover of Rs 1,220 crore and a net profit of `62 crore in FY17. The mining firm’s market capitalisation stood at Rs 6,851 crore as on May 11. In the case of Mahanagar Telephone Nigam (MTNL), which continues to struggle with declining revenues and mounting losses in a fiercely competitive market, NITI is understood to have suggested strategic disinvestment with options to monetise its tower business, land and buildings.
MTNL has a huge staff strength of 27,919 that needs to be taken care of. The telecom PSU, with operations in Delhi and Mumbai, reported a turnover of Rs 2,870 crore and a loss of Rs 2,941 crore in FY17. Its market capitalisation was just Rs 1,103 crore on BSE. Of the 40 CPSEs previously identified by NITI Aayog for strategic sales, the government has already invited expressions of interest for divestment of about 10 companies including Air India, Pawan Hans, Hindustan Prefab, Hospital Services Consultancy Corporation, Bridge & Roof Co, National Projects Construction Corporation, Engineering Projects India and Bharat Pumps and Compressors. Privatisation of a CPSE (Hindustan Zinc) last happened in 2003-04.
The history of disinvestment in the country can be traced to the United Front government which set up the Disinvestment Commission in 1996. But it was the NDA government led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee that set the process in motion and privatised more than a dozen PSUs, the most notable ones being IPCL, which was sold to Reliance Industries, and Bharat Aluminium and Hindustan Zinc, both of which went to Vedanta Resources.