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Last Updated: Monday, 20 November 2006, 08:10 GMT
Telstra's privatisation complete
People using Telstra phone boxes
One in ten Australians now have a stake in Telstra
A decade-long effort to fully privatise Telstra, Australia's largest phone company, has ended with the final batch of shares beginning trading.

The government has sold the bulk of its remaining stake, raising 15.5 billion Australian dollars ($11.9bn; £6.3bn) - twice what it expected.

Telstra, a former monopoly, now estimates that one in 10 Australians own shares in the company.

The newly-issued shares gained 9% on their first day of trading.

The sale of the shares - the third tranche to be made available - was heavily oversubscribed.

Investors cautious

Telstra's value has halved since the last sale of shares in 1999.

Investors are cautious about the firm which is undergoing a five-year programme to modernise its business and shift away from traditional fixed-line services.

The Telstra privatisation has been dogged by controversy, with opponents saying it could result in reduced rural services.

But supporters think it will make the company more competitive.

The sale meant that the government could play the role of regulator in Australia's telecoms industry without concerns over conflict of interest, finance minister Nick Minchin said.




SEE ALSO
Telstra share sale date revealed
06 Oct 06 |  Business
Telstra loses phone market ruling
21 Dec 05 |  Business
Chief quits in Telstra board row
15 Apr 04 |  Business
Senate rejects Telstra sell-off
30 Mar 04 |  Business

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