Will the sun set on Telstra?

The recent frenzy of Investment bank and private equity takeovers of Australian companies such as the Seven and Nine Networks and the retail institution of Myer, has put the Australian Stock Market on notice for who will be next on the takeover target’s list.

With Macquarie’s failed bid for QANTAS, it would seem that a likely scenario is that Telstra would be the next Australian company to come under scrutiny, as it is not only one of Australia’s largest publicly listed companies, but its structure is perfect for what private equity groups want. That is to breakup the company and Telstra with its home phone and mobile division, Bigpond internet, infrastructure division, Sensis and media assets would be perfect for a sell-off.

Telstra is an integral part of the Australian fabric, spending millions of dollars each year in sporting rights such as on Telstra Dome, Telstra Stadium, the NRL Premiership Naming rights, A-league soccer, Telstra Dolphins and the list goes on and on.

However, if new owners were to come in and break down the Telstra behemoth this could see a change in strategy meaning sponsorship money could be withdrawn. But how could this effect the Australian media landscape?

The digital revolution that we are currently experiencing has seen Telstra buy the online rights to AFL, NRL and V8 Supercars (sites are hosted by Telstra). They also own mobile TV broadcast rights to these sports. The monopoly which they currently hold on Australia’s major winter sports is massive and if a change of ownership was to occur, from a private equity takeover, we would most likely see cost cutting. This could lead to the selling of non-core assets, which could mean the removal of these sponsorship and rights holdings.

This would effect the media landscape, as it may allow Consolidated Media Holdings or Seven Media or News Corp or anyone of the other telcos, to purchase the rights. Changing the power of one media outlet and the influence it has on the Australia landscape.

At least at the moment Telstra is owned by Australians and if that were to change, the sun could set and the way we view sport and the quality of that viewing may change forever.

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