The board of the National Broadband Network Company (NBN Co) is set to vote on the $11 billion deal with Telstra today, almost a year since the two companies first signed a financial heads of agreement.
Telstra CEO David Thodey yesterday remained tight-lipped about the deal that will see Telstra separate its wholesale and retail arms, lease its pits and ducts to NBN Co, and transfer its customers onto the NBN. However, last night, speaking before a Senate budget estimates hearing in Canberra, NBN Co CEO Mike Quigley said that the board would "consider the transaction" when it meets this morning, although he couldn't guarantee that the deal would receive board approval.
"I have been working for quite some time ... on this transaction and we will be putting our case before the board," he said last night.
The completion of negotiations has run into several hurdles, including a delay in passing the telecommunications reform legislation that will see Telstra structurally separate. After the NBN Co and Telstra boards both approve the deal, and it is signed off by Cabinet, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission will take a look at it. As the last hurdle for the agreement to be sealed, Telstra shareholders will be given a chance to vote on it.
Quigley noted that the delays in the deal had set back construction at some of the second release sites.
"We have taken the view that the deal with Telstra would provide a better outcome for communities and for taxpayers and so it is worth waiting for," he said.
He was unable to provide the hearing with an actual figure on how far the delay in the deal had set the company behind in the roll-out, but said that once the deal was finalised, NBN Co would conduct an analysis to determine where the construction stands.