BSNL turnaround top priority; may unlock real estate value:CMD

BSNL turnaround top priority; may unlock real estate value:CMD

New Delhi: Saddled with huge losses, BSNL is mulling entering into new business areas in the telecom sector to turn around and may also approach the government to come out with a scheme to unlock the value of real estate owned by it.

BSNL, once the country’s flagship telecom company, posted a net loss of 1,823 crore on revenue of 32,046 crore in 2009-2010. The company had net profit of over 10,000 crore in 2005-06.

“We have to maximise our revenues from the existing levels. Then there are whole lot of business opportunities available in the market to tap. With the kind of reach BSNL has it should not be very difficult to get a major share of Enterprise business and also many new avenues for unlocking the value are on the anvil.

“We shall, in fact, avail all these opportunities to face this challenge and definitely we will emerge from these (financial) crisis," BSNL’s new chairman and managing director R K Upadhyay said when asked about the precarious financial health of the PSU.

In its projections to the government, BSNL is expected to to post a net loss of 2,725 crore on revenue of 31,738 crore during 2010-11, and the loss is expected to narrow to 623 crore on revenue of 36,569 crore during the current fiscal year (2011-12).

After defence and railways, BSNL is the country’s largest landholder. Its properties span 3,500 towns across India worth thousands of crores, making it the largest state-owned companies in terms of land assets.

So far, BSNL’s land holdings are under the Department of Telecom (DoT).

“Those things are being thought of and we will consult the government to come out with the schemes whereby it will be beneficial for the company as well as the government," he said.

The telecom behemoth is suffering from financial losses due to huge labour wage cost and declining subscribers.

The PSU has slipped from number two position in number of telecom subscribers to number four in view of intense competition from the private players.

The PSU has a big handicap of not being present in India’s two top markets — Delhi and Mumbai — as in these two metros another PSU MTNL operates.

BSNL has made several attempts to get permission to start operations in these two metros but has not succeeded.

Asked about his challenges and priorities as the new CMD of the loss making BSNL, Upadhyay said, “There is a great opportunity to work in this great organisation and make it tide over the temporary financial crises which this company is facing.

“Let me tell (you) that the company has many strengths that are to be harnessed in the best advantage of the company so that we are not only able to tide over the current financial crises but also emerge as a very strong company".