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It’s D-Day today for Telstra investors – and for the National Broadband Network – as shareholders gather in Sydney for the telco’s annual general meeting and a chance to vote on the $11 billion proposal to trade off the telco’s copper fixed-wire network to NBN Co, effectively leaving the once all-powerful Telstra structurally separated.

 It’s D-Day today for Telstra investors – and for the National Broadband Network – as shareholders gather in Sydney for the telco’s annual general meeting and a chance to vote on the $11 billion proposal to trade off the telco’s copper fixed-wire network to NBN Co, effectively leaving the once all-powerful Telstra structurally separated.

Shareholders will gather at the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre in Darling Harbour for the AGM, which is due to begin at 10am. Thousands more are expected to tune in via live broadcasts to the Melbourne Sofitel and Brisbane Convention Centre, or to watch proceedings via a webcast.

Most financial observers believe the proposal is likely to pass, but warn the deal is still subject to negotiation with the Australian Competition And Consumer Commission, which has raised a number of objections on structural separation matters.

According to an Australian Financial Review report, Telstra will submit the $11 billion deal to a second shareholder vote if it is forced by the ACCC to give away more than $200 million of value.

Telstra CEO David Thodey has also dangled a carrot in front of the 1.4 million shareholders, saying that if the deal goes through, the board will consider giving them a major capital return.

He told ABC-TV’s Inside Business program that, while the telco needed to build new sources of revenue, he needed to be “convinced personally” of the merits of reinvesting the funds. If there were no suitable acquisition targets, it was likely the board would contemplate a “major payment” to investors, he said.

Given that carrot, most observers believe the proposal will get up. “This thing will pass with flying colours,” said Matt Williams of Perpetual Investments. “It gives some certainty around the future in that part of the business.”

More than 1000 shareholders are expected to attend today’s meeting in person. The webcast – unmetered for BigPond customers – will be at www.telstra.com.au/abouttelstra/investor.

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