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Saturday, July 26, 2008

Telephone Shilpa Sangstha revival plan in trouble

Telephone Shilpa Sangstha revival plan in trouble
Only one firm wants to be partner; state-run telephone equipment maker to go for re-tender

The government's plan to breathe a new life into the Telephone Shilpa Sangstha Limited (TSS) has jolted, as a single company has so far showed interest to become a strategic partner of the lone state-run telephone equipment manufacturer.

The company management said they are a bit surprised over the poor response, both from local and foreign buyers, because many a companies expressed their interest after the publication of an advertisement 'Expression of Interest' in early May.

According to the TSS sources, UK based Orange Telecom, a Russian based company and some local giant groups showed their interest and verbally made commitment to submit their bid. "Surprisingly, nobody has stepped into the final race," said a TSS high official.

To get official response from these companies, the TSS also extended the deadline for submitting of proposals from June 15 to July 20.

The official sees this single proposal to become the strategic partner of a company that valued its asset at over Tk200crore as 'unfortunate.'

The TSS Board has chosen to have a partnership, which, it thinks, might revive the obsolete technology-based company that incurred an accumulated loss of Tk 35crore since 1998.

The company basically supplies land phone sets and analog system equipment to the land phone operator Bangladesh Telecommunications Company Limited (BTCL), formerly Bangladesh Telegraph and Telephone Board (BTTB).

On the poor response, TSS Managing Director Shamsul Kibria said, "We will go for re-advertisement."

"TSS is our national asset. We have no right to handover this to a foreign company without going for a competitive bid," he added.

Telephone Shilpa Sangstha was established in 1967 as Telephone Industries Corporation under a joint venture agreement between the then the government of Pakistan and Siemens AG, West Germany, now Nokia Siemens Networks GmbH Co & KG, Germany.

After the independence, Telephone Industries Corporation was made a limited company with its present name Telephone Shilpa Sangstha Ltd.

At present, the government holds 92 percent shares in the company, while Nokia Siemens Network owns the rest 8 percent.

Before going for a new strategic partner the Nokia Siemens will handover its stake to the government.

TSS officials said the government introduced digital telephony in late 1980s but it did not enhance the company's capacity to make digital equipment.

Kibria said, "We will call a board meeting this week to decide on any re-advertisement".

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