Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Australia - talks between the government and Telstra are moving towards agreement on the implementation of the NBN

[smh] Talks between Telstra Corporation Ltd and the federal government on the National Broadband Network (NBN) are moving towards how an agreement will be implemented, a senior executive says.

Telstra chief financial officer John Stanhope said on Wednesday that a definitive agreement between the telco giant and the government would take more time, but progress was being made.

"At a practical level, a lot of it has been done," Mr Stanhope told an American Chamber of Commerce in Australia luncheon in Sydney.

Talks are now mostly focused on how a deal would be put into practice, he said.

A non-binding financial heads of agreement between the two parties remained in place, and some major aspects of the timing of more concrete agreements were ultimately up to the government, Mr Stanhope said.

Legislation creating a framework for a deal on the NBN must still pass through parliament, while other regulatory hurdles also need to be cleared before the company building the NBN can make a start on the multi-billion dollar project.

Telstra still wants to put some form of proposal to shareholders, possibly about the sale of assets to the NBN, or an agreement on the use of its infrastructure, before June 2011.

However, the recent election result and its effect on the legislative process may force the Telstra board to seeking shareholder approval before the NBN was legislated, Mr Stanhope said.

"It's a discussion we'll probably have in the boardroom, but I have to say it is a package," he said.

Mr Stanhope also confirmed the telco's new strategy to deal with falling revenues from its traditional business will result in job cuts.

Telstra has set out to improve customer relations and make that a point of difference from its competitors, by simplifying its business structure.

"In all businesses, simplification is a process that has an impact on employees," Mr Stanhope said.

"Unfortunately, often jobs are reduced in these sort of exercises.

"I expect that to be the case, but we don't start with a number, we start with how to get it right."

Telstra has cut over 12,000 jobs since 2005 as part of a transformation process implemented by former chief executive Sol Trujillo.

The new strategy is expected to be implemented over three years.

Telstra says NBN talks progressing

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