05 March, 2021

Life Beyond The Line Of Control

With its international long-distance monopoly under threat, the PSU needs to reconfigure itself and add fresh revenue streams

Life Beyond The Line Of Control

Nervous. That’s what Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd (VSNL) chairman and managing director S.K. Gupta was this Independence Day. Gupta was in New York, to ring the morning bell at the city’s stock exchange. With a 30 per cent foreign holding, VSNL was moving to the New York Stock Exchange (nyse) from the London bourse in an attempt to increase scrip price.

On the Indian market, where 17 per cent of the stock floats, the VSNL counter hadn’t been doing well, hovering around the issue price of Rs 740. But if Gupta pinned his hopes on Wall Street giving his company a better valuation, he had a rude shock coming: sabotage. And from no less than communications minister Ram Vilas Paswan.

Days before the scrip’s listing in New York, Paswan told a financial daily that VSNL, the monopoly provider of international phone services in India, would probably have its tina (there is no alternative) status removed before 2004. This, when the government had in its prospectus assured investors that VSNL’s monopoly would stay till...

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