Telstra buys BT's Clear Communications

Telstra Saturn Ltd. will pay British Telecommunications PLC (BT) $NZ435 million (US$183.2 million) for New Zealand's number two telco Clear Communications, according to a Telstra Saturn statement.

"Telstra Saturn would pay about $NZ143 million for Clear. In addition, shareholder loans payable by Clear to BT of about $NZ270 million will be refinanced and the proceeds repaid to BT at completion," says the statement.

"This represents a discount of around $NZ75 million to the company's net asset value as at March 2001."

The final deal will see Telstra Corp. Ltd. of Australia owning roughly 62 percent of the company with Austar, Telstra's partner in Telstra Saturn, owning 38 percent.

"Telstra will assume operational, management and board control of the merged entity."

Telstra and Austar have already agreed to change the wording of their contract with regards to the ownership of Telstra Saturn to allow Telstra to buy out Austar's share at the end of the 2004 financial year, leaving Telstra in full control of the New Zealand company.

The new chief executive of the combined operation will be Rosemary Howard, previously managing director of Telstra's wholesale division.

The deal is subject to approval from the Commerce Commissioner.

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