The Crown corporation SaskTel could have an intrinsic value of between $1.7 billion and $3.2 billion, an investment analyst with the Frontier Centre for Public Policy said.
According to Ian Madsen, who authored a report on SaskTel for the Prairie-based think tank that was released this week, such valuations could be useful if the province ever considers privatizing its telephone company.
He argued that the big difference between the two figures is justified, because there are a lot of unknowns, including willingness of investors to buy SaskTel shares.
Among the benefits of privatizing, Madsen said, is that the sale would provide funds to the provincial government to provide services or lower taxes for citizens.
"The money is frozen into the coffers of SaskTel," he said. "It could be used to pay part of the provincial debt."
Ian Madsen also believes that once sold, the corporation would stop receiving what he considers to be unfair advantages over the private market, such as access to cheap capital.
However, the advantages highlighted by the analyst do not exist, according to SaskTel spokesperson Darcee Macfarlane.
"We're regulated by the CRTC, so we operate like any other telecommunications company," Macfarlane said.
Last year, SaskTel paid a dividend of $84 million to the provincial goverment.
During the last provincial election, Premier Brad Wall promised not to sell SaskTel or other big Crowns, but in January 2013, he indicated he was open to reopen the debate on the sale of state-owned companies if that's what the public wants.
Meanwhile, the same day the Frontier Centre's report came out, the government announced details about a share offering for another Crown corporation, Information Services Corp., which handles land titles.