Govt now says 'premature' to cut Telstra from future NBN sale

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Govt now says 'premature' to cut Telstra from future NBN sale

Leaves door open for telco’s InfraCo unit.

Telstra may still have a chance at buying part or all of the National Broadband Network in an eventual sale after the new Communications Minister appeared to back away from earlier comments that the telco would be excluded.

The Age reported on Wednesday that Communications Minister Paul Fletcher had “ruled out any chance of Telstra buying the NBN” in a future sale process.

Telstra has previously indicated that its now-separate infrastructure business called InfraCo could make a future commercial play for the NBN, should the government proceed to privatise the asset.

It now appears, though, that Fletcher is not ruling any participant in or out, which could leave InfraCo with a chance of securing the asset.

“It is way too premature to speculate on how any such sale would be structured and who may participate in that process,” a spokesperson for the Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts Paul Fletcher told iTnews in a statement on Thursday afternoon.

The spokesperson said that any future sale of the NBN remained “quite some way away” and that the government is focused on completing the build and realising benefits for users.

“The Government does anticipate a future privatisation of NBN Co at an appropriate time as provided for explicitly in the National Broadband Network Companies Act 2011,” the spokesperson said.

“The Act sets out a range of requirements and conditions which must be met prior to the Government considering privatisation, including completion of the rollout of the network.

“Clearly any such future sale of NBN Co at the appropriate time would be structured in a way that is in the public interest and mindful among other things of the operation and the competitiveness of the broader market.”

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