Australia expects $12b windfall from Telstra sale

20 Nov 2006

(Associated Press via NewsEdge) The Australian government said it will raise A$15.5 billion ($11.9 billion) through the sell-down of its majority stake in telecommunications giant Telstra, almost double the A$8 billion ($6.1 billion) initially earmarked for sale.

The windfall comes from solid demand from retail and institutional investors.

Canberra will sell 4.25 billion shares in Telstra, with stock sold to institutions at A$3.70 ($2.84) apiece, a slight discount to Telstra's last traded price of A$3.75 ($2.88), Finance Minister Nick Minchin said.

Analysts had earlier thought the price paid by wholesale investors could be around A$3.50 ($2.7) a share.

The sale, known by investment bankers as T3, caps off a 10 year ambition for Prime Minister John Howard and his conservative government colleagues. Canberra first sold Telstra shares to the public in 1997, with a second tranche sold in 1999, leaving the government with a 51.8% stake.

The government will transfer its remaining two billion-plus shares in the company to an independently managed, but government backed, investment fund, which will be free to sell down the shares after a two year lockup period.

© 2006 The Associated Press

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