Indian telecomms sell-off targets foreign investors

The Indian government and telecommunications giant Videsh Sanchar Nigam (VSNL) have drafted in Dewe Rogerson to manage international media relations for a partial sell-off of the state-owned firm next month.

The Indian government and telecommunications giant Videsh Sanchar

Nigam (VSNL) have drafted in Dewe Rogerson to manage international media

relations for a partial sell-off of the state-owned firm next month.



One of the country’s biggest companies, VSNL is the sole provider of

international telecommunications services in India and has been

earmarked for partial privatisation since 1994. At the time Hill and

Knowlton was appointed to handle external communications, but the

offering was delayed twice and the agency subsequently dropped.



The government and VSNL are now planning to issue around 18.5 million

new shares, including 3.8 million government shares. Dewe Rogerson’s

brief is to manage a marketing strategy and to drum up interest among

foreign investors through relations with the international financial

press. It is also helping to produce brochures and other literature

about the offering.



Local agency Perfect Relations will liaise with the Indian press.



Rosie Catherwood, Dewe Rogerson’s chief representative in Bombay,

explained that although the share issue was only open to foreign

investors, the local press had an important influence on international

opinion. ’The Indian press is very active and interested in the success

of foreign investment,’ she said.



A domestic share offer in VSNL is expected to be launched in June or

July.



VSNL is just one of a number of state-owned businesses in which the

government plans to reduce its stake. In 1991 it set up the

Disinvestment Commission to advise on the disposal of shares in 40

firms, including oil refiner Indian Oil Corp.



Last year disinvestment raised pounds 62 million and the government has

set a target of pounds 865 million for 1996/97.



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