BSNL to hive-off tower assets

23 Nov 2012

Debt-ridden state-owned telco Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) is planning to spin off a separate towerco to manage its cell sites, the Hindustan Times reports. The scheme will see BSNL lease access to its 70,000 towers to rival service providers, which BSNL chairman Rakesh Kumar Upadhyay claimed could potentially generate up to INR16 billion (USD289.94 million) within five years. BSNL has begun the process for selecting a consultant for the programme, and expects to have chosen an advisor by the end of December. The advisor will inform the company on the need or otherwise for a strategic investor, as well as providing a market valuation for BSNL and comment on the plausibility of launching a new tower company.

BSNL’s financial losses have been steadily increasing in recent years, with the company booking a net loss of INR88.71 billion in the year ended 31 March 2012, and INR63.84 billion twelve months earlier. Upadhyay added that the tower leasing plans are just part of the plans to ‘bring the company back on the right track….For example, we have streamlined [the] procurement process, improved our billing system and have started Enterprise Resource Planning. All these steps will give results in the next financial year.’