New York-based multinational investment management corporation BlackRock Inc has reportedly acquired a 5% stake in Telecom New Zealand. The development, which has been widely reported in the local press, was divulged by BlackRock in an announcement to the New Zealand Stock Exchange. The transaction – which saw 16 separate BlackRock subsidiaries based in Canada, Australia, Japan, the UK, Germany and the Netherlands purchase 66.2 million shares, worth a combined USD253 million – makes the investment firm one of the five largest shareholders in Telecom. Last month BlackRock announced that it had a total of USD3.345 trillion worth of assets under management as of the third quarter of 2011.
As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, in June New Zealand communications minister Steven Joyce announced that foreign companies will be permitted to purchase Telecom New Zealand’s retail business when the company de-merges later this year. Under the current rules, foreign firms are not allowed to own more than 49.9% of Telecom, whilst additional government clearance is required for foreign stakes larger than 10%. The telco’s pending structural separation has been necessitated by the company’s selection by government agency Crown Fibre Holdings (CFH) to roll out the bulk of the country’s Ultra Fast Broadband (UFB) initiative. In May 2011 Telecom was awarded contracts covering 24 urban areas (including Auckland and Wellington), effectively bringing the long-running selection process to an end. As part of the agreement the operator agreed to structurally separate its infrastructure business unit, Chorus, from the rest of the company. Going forward, Chorus will operate as a nationwide fixed line access network operator, offering services on an ‘open access’ basis, whilst ‘Telecom’ will function as a retail-focused telecoms business, comprising fixed, mobile and ICT operations.