Shareholder says Telstra and government must negotiate truce before stake sale can proceed

20 Mar 2006

A shareholder in Australian part-privatised fixed line incumbent Telstra has called for the government to postpone its exit from the operator until the telco and regulator ACCC have agreed to implement a ‘workable regulatory environment’, according to the Financial Times. Anton Tagliaferro, managing director of Investors Mutual, a Sydney-based fund manager and institutional investor in Telstra, told a local TV programme that the AUD25 billion (USD18.2 billion) sale of the state’s remaining 51.8% stake in the company could not go ahead in the current climate. Tagliaferro backed Telstra’s claims that it is the subject of unfair over-regulation and called on the government to negotiate a truce between the operator and the country’s regulators. Telstra claims that it will lose AUD850 million this year because of regulations requiring it to give rivals access to its network at below-cost prices. ‘There are more than 100 telecoms players in this country and no one can argue that it is not competitive,’ he told the ABC TV programme Inside Business. ‘Competitors, who are mainly foreign entrants, want to be able to cherry-pick Telstra’s best customers and do not care about services to rural Australia. Unless Telstra has a clear and workable regulatory environment… clearly the float should be postponed.’

Australia, Telstra (incl. Belong)