Australia won't be forced to sell Telstra shares, says treasurer

18 Aug 2006
00:00

The Australian government will not be forced to sell its remaining 51.8% stake in Telstra, a senior minister said.
'If the conditions don't suit then we've indicated that the government's Future Fund "&brkbar; would be a very suitable vehicle to hold that shareholding,' Treasurer Peter Costello told a media briefing in Canberra, referring to a fund to finance future federal debts including civil servants pensions.
Telstra shares have dropped 4.7% since August 9, the day before the Melbourne-based company released its full year results that showed a 26% fall in profit.
Various government leaders have indicated a decision on whether to proceed with the full privatization of Telstra will be made within weeks.
'We will deal with the government's shareholding at a time which is in the interests of other shareholders and the Australian taxpayers,' Costello said.
'We are not a forced seller; we are not selling this to get the money, we don't need the money,' he added.
The government's plan to sell its remaining Telstra stake, a process known as T3, has been dealt a series of blows in the last week.
As well as Telstra's disappointing profit result, the company has warned it may cut its earnings guidance after an unfavorable ruling from the regulator on what it can charge its competitors for access to its network.
The sale was then expected to make A$30 billion ($23 billion) in Australia's largest ever privatization.

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