New Delhi: The Department of Telecom has ruled out the possibility of merging the two PSUs -- BSNL and MTNL -- on the grounds of the listed entity status of MTNL.
Telecom Minister A Raja was recently apprised by DoT officials of this decision which says MTNL has private stakeholders who may not favour a merger with BSNL, official sources said.
While BSNL is 100% owned by the government, MTNL has 56.25% government stake. MTNL is listed in the domestic market as well as on the New York Stock Exchange.
The merger plan was first floated by the late Communications Minister Pramod Mahajan and it was revived later by former minister Dayanidhi Maran.
MTNL has minority shareholders/ADR holders whose approval for the merger decision is crucial. After I-Sec submitted its report, the government was exploring the financial pros and cons of a reverse merger of BSNL with MTNL to take care of the private shareholders’ interests.
A merger mode would necessitate a mandatory delisting of MTNL for a subsequent relisting of the combined BSNL-MTNL entity which would have been a complicated process for DoT to handle.
In a reverse merger, BSNL would have been required to fork out close to $1 billion to acquire the 56.25% government stake in MTNL based on its $1.8-billion enterprise valuation.
A possible deterrent to a BSNL-MTNL reverse merger was the hefty stamp duties that would automatically accrue on BSNL.
One of the stumbling block was the disparity in salaries between BSNL and MTNL employees in a range anywhere between 5% and 15%.
While MTNL operates in the lucrative circles of Mumbai an Delhi, BSNL operates in rest of India.