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Aussie PM airs Telstra sale doubts

Won't be flogged at just any price

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The Australian Government is not prepared to flog its 51.8 per cent stake in incumbent telco Telstra if the price isn't right, according to Aussie PM John Howard.

Telstra's share price has been under pressure lately over uncertainty about the future of the telco and regulatory concerns. These doubts have led some onlookers to question whether the Government should proceed with its sale plans.

Speaking yesterday, Howard said the Government wouldn't sell its slice of the telco at any price.

"We're not in the business of selling at any cost...just for the sake of getting it off our books," Howard told ABC Radio. "That would not be sensible."

Instead, he went on to say that the government would sell "at the time and in a manner that's best calculated to help the company and help the shareholders".

Last autumn the Australian Senate backed plans to flog the Government's stake in the business despite a concerted campaign by opposition MPs and trade unions. A final decision as to whether the Government proceeds with the A$24bn (£10bn) sale is expected within the next couple of months. ®

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