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BSNL unions may oppose IPO
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State-run telecom major Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) says it expects to increase its visibility in the domestic and international markets, besides improving company performance, as a fallout of the proposed initial public offering (IPO) of equity.

However, its employee unions are still opposed to the idea. A decision to offer 10 per cent of the equity was reportedly taken by the government yesterday, though an official announcement has yet to be made.

“After an IPO, BSNL will have market-based accountability performance, which will benefit the company as well as its employees. It will also give the company a much-needed visibility in the global market and enable us in making strategic alliances easily,” Chairman and Managing Director Kuldeep Goyal told Business Standard.

In 2008, a BSNL official had valued the company at Rs 1,00,000 crore and a 10 per cent divestment could fetch around 10,000 crore. Asked to comment on the valuations of BSNL, Goyal refused to comment. He said the valuation of telecom companies had gone down considerably down in the recent times.

Expressing their strong disapproval to the reported IPO, BSNL union head V A N Namboodiri said: “We are opposed to the listing of BSNL. It will be completely against the interest of the people. Even MTNL could not benefit from its listing.”

We have convened a meeting of all union forums on January 11 and we will decide our future course of action then, he said. Responded Goyal: “We will have a dialogue with them once the government takes a final decision. We will find ways to convince the employees and make them understand the benefits.”

BSNL has a total employee strength of 350,000 all across India, of which 150,000 are unionised.
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