Management control of Telstra has been thrown into question following the shock resignation of the company’s chairman Bob Mansfield. According to a statement prepared for the Australian stock exchange, Mansfield – who has held the position since January 2000 – resigned because the ‘bond of trust necessary for the company’s board to operate had been ruptured’. The comment is believed to refer to Telstra’s recent plans to make a takeover bid for John Fairfax Holdings, publisher of the Sydney Morning Herald and the Australian Financial Review. The acquisition is believed to have been strongly supported by Mansfield and company CEO Ziggy Switkowski, but was overwhelmingly defeated by the board.
Mansfield decision to resign is expected to put pressure on Switkowski to quit, due to the pair’s close working relationship and shared vision of building the company via a series of acquisitions both at home and overseas. Just last week Telstra agreed to buy Australian IT company the Kaz Group for AUD333 million, and Switkowski is reported to be keen to extend the company’s operations further into Asia, principally to China and Singapore.