The government is looking into the process of delisting state-run telecom carrier Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL) ahead of the merger with another state telecom firm Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL).
“The legal complexities are being looked into. We have appointed a consulting firm as an advisor. We expect to complete the merger of MTNL and BSNL by the end of next year but before that we need to delist MTNL from the stock exchanges,” a senior official of the Department of Telecommunications told ETTelecom.
The merger for both ailing telecom units has been hanging fire since more than a decade now with the department exploring synergies between the two entities.
However, BSNL currently maintains MTNL’s mobile network in two operational metropolitans — Delhi and Mumbai.
“For revival of both public sector firms, the merger is necessary. One entity needs to operate at a pan India level to provide seamless services to consumers. Now that BSNL’s 4G services are ready to be launched, the process of merger has been put on a fastrack mode,” the official said.
The delisting will be a long process and we already had a few rounds of discussions with markets regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), the official said, adding that the external advisor would provide a detailed report on the legal issues and how to move forward with the delisting process.
BSNL has appointed Deloitte as a consultant for the process.In July last year, the Cabinet cleared a Rs 1.64 lakh crore revival package for ailing BSNL and MTNL after a Rs 69,000 crore rescue plan in 2019.
In October 2019, the government approved the revival plan for BSNL and MTNL through reduction in employee costs by way of Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS), debt restructuring by raising of sovereign guarantee bonds, administrative allotment of spectrum for 4G services through capital infusion, monetization of core and non-core assets and in-principle approval of merger between BSNL and MTNL.
Following high debt of MTNL, the merger of MTNL with BSNL was deferred earlier. MTNL has close to Rs 30,000 crore debt.
BSNL Board on Monday recommended the deployment of 1 lakh network sites by Tata Consultancy Services (TCS)-led consortium for its 4G commercial service. The department would seek clearance from the Group of Ministers (GoM) likely by early March to further issue a purchase order (PO).
State-run telco expects a 20% increase in revenue after a full-fledged commercial launch of next-generation 4G services in 2023-24.
Earlier this month, Minister of State for Communications Devusinh Chauhan in the Parliament said that BSNL is expected to generate a net profit in the financial year 2026-27 after the implementation of the revival package.