Direct Dialling

It is understood that the Premier had advised senior state officials to consider direct offers, with the option of listing part of the stake in the country of the new investor. rn

rnInitial reports indicate that an 8.5 per cent to 10.00 per cent stake could be on offer not this year, but next year. rn

rnIndustry sources say that Indian telecom giant VSNL is among the parties vying for the SLT stake. rn

rnVSNL obtained an external gateway operator licence in July this year, with officials then saying they would consider venturing into local call operations if a viable opportunity came by. rn

rnHowever, local VSNL representatives say they are not aware of such interest.rn

rnThe stake in Sri Lanka Telecom is among the last few high value holdings in government hands, owning approximately 46.5 per cent of the issued ordinary shares. rn

rnThe sale will bridge the governments ambitious plans to raise Rs. 13.5 bn in privatisation proceeds for 2003. rn

rnState sector experts earlier said the governm