An unconfirmed ET report says US telco AT&T may be planning to pick up a 10% stake in public sector unit BSNL. According to the report, BSNL's top brass have passed the buck to the government, which might not be amenable to selling the stake. The telco's MD and CEO Kuldeep Goyal has denied the development. BSNL is a wholly owned unit of the government and has a nation wide coverage, offering landlines, mobiles, 3G, broadband and dial-up Internet, as well as IPTV services. In terms of offerings, it has a good fit with AT&T which also offers this bouquet in US through subsidiaries, affiliates and operating companies. Here are five reasons why we think this is not a sensible move on AT&T's part, if it is considering acquiring a stake in BSNL: a) Aggressive Worker's Union: BSNL's powerful and virtually uncontrollable employee union is likely to be up against AT&T, a foreign player investing in it, for the same reason it is against BSNL going public. It dislikes change. Workers recently held an Anti-Disinvestment Day and followed up with a 48 hour strike demanding wage revision and confirmation of employees that resulted in a nation-wide disruption of its services. BSNL has 55,000 employees. b) Political Pressure & Exit Strategy: AT&T might find that both its entry and exit will depend heavily upon the political atmosphere; the investment might just end up being a financial one, with little or no say in the functioning of BSNL. Given that BSNL is a government…
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