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Terria committed to broadband bid

TELSTRA’S main rival in the bidding process for the national broadband network says it remains committed to the project despite the withdrawal of one of its key members.

Terria chairman Michael Egan said he regretted today’s withdrawal of AAPT from the consortium of eight telecommunications companies, just six weeks before the federal government’s deadline for bids.

Earlier this week Terria said it had been forced to seek alternative funding arrangements to build the NBN due to the current financial crisis.

But Mr Egan said Terria’s bid was “full steam ahead” despite AAPT’s withdrawal.

“As with all of these things, the ability to attract both equity and debt funding depends on the quality of your business case, and we believe ours is outstanding,” Mr Egan told AAP.

“We think it is a very attractive investment proposition and so we’re absolutely confident of our ability to fund it.”

The changes needed in the group’s funding model are “just a nip and tuck to our capital structure”, Mr Egan said.

AAPT, owned by Telecom New Zealand, said it had withdrawn because the recent debate between Telstra and Terria had been too heavily focussed on the cost of building the network.

The company had never intended to financially support the NBN’s construction, chief executive Paul Broad said.

“The decision to cease our involvement in Terria is timely for us, given the current position of the bidding process,” Mr Broad said.

The broadband debate must re-focus on who is best placed to build the NBN, Mr Broad said, as well as the need to ensure competition is encouraged on the network.

“Let’s not lose sight of the fact we’re campaigning for a better outcome for Australians,” Mr Broad said.

“Consumers need a voice. A competitive environment is the only way to achieve this.”

The Australian
by Staff and Writers
16th October 2008

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