Corporates not affected by TelstraClear sale

Telstra says most of its large trans-Tasman corporate customers have contracts directly with the Australian telco, meaning they might not be affected by the possible sale of its New Zealand subsidiary, TelstraClear to Vodafone.

Telstra confirmed earlier this month that it was in discussions to sell TelstraClear to Vodafone. There are rumours the deal could be concluded as early as next month for about $400 million.

However, trans-Tasman corporate business could complicate any exit.

IDC Research analyst Glen Saunders said Bank of New Zealand, which is owned by National Australia Bank, appeared to be Telstra's largest trans-Tasman client "by quite some way". Serving such clients would be the biggest source of difficulties if Telstra sold TelstraClear, he said.

Telstra spokeswoman Nicole McKechnie said its corporate clients would be aware of the talks, but since they were still discussions there was little more it could say. "There is no decision at this point in time."

Most large New Zealand corporates that were trans-Tasman customers had their relationship with Telstra, rather than with TelstraClear, she said.

BNZ spokeswoman Emily Davies said it had "a range of providers of telecommunications services, including TelstraClear".

The implications of a Vodafone takeover of TelstraClear were "hypothetical at this stage so not appropriate to discuss", she said.

McKechnie would not comment on whether Telstra would continue to seek new business in New Zealand from trans-Tasman corporations in the event that the sale of TelstraClear went ahead.

Saunders said Telstra could subcontract existing New Zealand work to Vodafone but believed it would not want to "throw away revenues" and make its work harder in Australia.

The most sensible arrangement might be for it to try to maintain "business as usual" and some infrastructure here, he said.

"You could see a very stripped down Telstra sales office here with a few technical people working out of it and they would fly in more experts if they needed them."