Telstra chief financial officer John Stanhope expects jobs to go as the telco simplifies its business practices for customers, he said at an American Chamber of Commerce lunch in Sydney today.
"We have to make customer service a key differentiator for Telstra," he said. "That's why we are simplifying how we do business and taking out unnecessary costs, duplication and complexity."
Stanhope said this would inevitably lead to a cut in jobs at Telstra in the future.
"We're going through a very rigorous process of how we simplify the business. It'll always be a complex business. We have complex products," he said. "Unfortunately, jobs are always reduced in that exercise. And I expect that to be the case, but we don't start with a number. We start with getting how we operate right, first."
It was reported in July that the company was examining its management structure in a move that could see 330 senior management roles cut.
Stanhope said Telstra's negotiations over the fine points of its $11 billion deal with the Federal Government to decommission its copper network and move customers onto the National Broadband Network (NBN) was continuing and said the company was aiming to put the decision to shareholders in the early part of 2011. But the chief financial officer said he could not rule out the possibility of delays if the legislation surrounding the deal runs into trouble in parliament.
"I have no idea how [long] it will take to get through this parliament. We all know legislation [entered before the election] has to be reintroduced and reread and that might cause some delays, but we still aim to do what we've said and give this thing to our shareholders at least by June 2011," he said.
"There are suggestions Telstra might not be telling people enough. I have to say, you have to make sure that you're not misleading the market as well," he added. Stanhope stated that the board would discuss whether to forge ahead on a vote without the parts requiring legislation changes.
"But I have to say [the deal] is a package."
The cost-benefit analysis
On the issue of whether the NBN should be subjected to a cost-benefit analysis as newly appointed Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has called for, Stanhope said it would have no impact on Telstra.
"[But] as a finance man, everything should have a business case. I wouldn't expect a finance man to say anything else but whether one gets done is not for me to say," he said. "Nobody has to show Telstra a business case for the NBN. Not surprisingly I've got a business case for our participation in the NBN."
"The bottom line is we've got a government policy that is to have an NBN that is fibre to the home," Stanhope added. "Telstra has to look at the best interests of its shareholders in regards to that policy."