Skadden takes government role on Telstra sale

Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom has scooped the role of international adviser to the Australian government on the sale of its remaining stake in national telecommunications giant Telstra.

The New York-based firm, which has an office in Sydney, is to advise on all international aspects of the sale of the government’s remaining 51.8 per cent share of the telco.

The firm’s team will be led by Sydney partner Robert Williams, London
partner Adrian Deitz and New York partner Phyllis Korff.

Australian firm Freehills, led by partner Philippa Stone, has also been appointed to advise on the domestic aspects of the sale, with advice from both firms overseen by the Australian government solicitor.

The Australian government will decide in early 2006 whether to proceed with the sale, which hinges on the performance of the telco’s struggling share price.

Government budget papers assume the shares will be sold at between AUS$5 and AUS$5.25. However, Telstra shares have dropped almost 20 per cent since American Sol Trujillo became chief executive officer on 1 July 2005, forcing them well below the government’s target.

If the sale does go ahead, it will be the third tranche of Telstra shares sold by the Australian government. The first two, known as T1 and T2, were sold in 1997 and 1999.