Telstra pushes back shareholder vote on NBN Co deal

Complexity of negotiations with NBN Co has seen Telstra axe its original, "ambitious" 1 July EGM date

Telstra (ASX:TLS) has pushed back an extraordinary general meeting initially scheduled in July for shareholders to vote on its financial heads of agreement with NBN Co, but has continued to advise that negotiations remain on track.

Citing the length and complexity of discussions, the telco said in an ASX announcement Friday that that the meeting would be held as soon as possible.

“Negotiations continue to progress well, with all parties working together to agree and document the various detailed arrangements required to implement a transaction of this scale and complexity,” and ASX advisory from the company reads.

“A number of matters are yet to be finalised including some that require government approval. Work continues to reach final agreement as soon as possible.”

However, the original 1 July date announced by chief executive, David Thodey, at the company's half-yearly results briefing last month, would not be met.

“The company is currently looking at options for an alternative meeting date, including taking into account the full year results announcement requirements, and will advise shareholders once it is in a position to set the date of the meeting."

The delay will come without surprise for many, with Thodey stating the July date was ambitious.

As reported by Computerworld Australia Telstra told shareholders in February they would vote on the $11 billion heads of agreement with NBN Co by July, despite continued delays over Christmas and the beginning of 2011.

"[1 July] is a very ambitious target however we thought it was important to put it out there," he said. "While some of those [factors] are out of our control, we're going to do everything we can."

Then as now, the deal remains subject to approval by the ACCC, the completion of voluntary structural separation and passing of several pieces of legislation retaining to the NBN and Telstra in Australian Parliament.

Also speaking in February Telstra's chief financial officer, John Stanhope, said stability around copper pricing has been a main point of contention in negotiations around the contract, a matter that is largely the purview of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

"The parties are working to complete the associated operational details and ensure all contingencies are addressed as part of the documentation process, which is expected to be completed in the near future," he said.

NBN Co was contacted for comment but did not reply at time of writing.

Follow James Hutchinson on Twitter: @j_hutch

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

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