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Telecoms: T3 Telstra sale troubled by tiffs

Australia is going ahead with a scaled-down sale of its Telstra holdings. But tension persists between the telecom operator and the government.

By Chris Wright

Telstra CEO Sol Trujillo Telstra CEO Sol Trujillo’s outbursts before the T3 government sale have rattled politicians

The on-again, off-again privatization of the Commonwealth of Australia’s remaining stake in national telecom company Telstra will go ahead. However, the acrimony surrounding the sale seems set to dog it to its conclusion. T3, as the sale is dubbed, will finally involve an A$8 billion (US$6 billion) stock offering to investors in October and November, dramatically less than the A$18.4 billion that was expected at one point but still Australia’s largest sale since 1999 and the largest telecoms offer in the world since 2003. The remainder of the government’s 51.8% stake in the telco (probably about 30% of the total stock) will go into the Future Fund, an investment vehicle set up by the federal government to meet public sector pension liabilities.

Broad significance

The third Telstra sale is highly significant at a social, political and economic level. The first Telstra sale, in 1997, was the one that taught a generation of Australians about the money to be made in the stock market.

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