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Conroy is due to announce the chairperson and board members around the end of this month, after international headhunting firm Egon Zehnder submitted a shortlist. Zehnder is also working on a shortlist of candidates for the lead adviser and the CEO’s job, though the latter will be decided later by the new board “in conjunction with the Government,” Conroy said at the weekend.

Conroy is due to announce the chairperson and board members around the end of this month, after international headhunting firm Egon Zehnder submitted a shortlist. Zehnder is also working on a shortlist of candidates for the lead adviser and the CEO’s job, though the latter will be decided later by the new board “in conjunction with the Government,” Conroy said at the weekend.

The Minister was speaking to business commentator Alan Kohler on the ABC’s Inside Business program.

He told Kohler ‘We’ve got a very, very strong calibre of candidates. It’s been quite gratifying to see that the people who have put their names forward have all been willing to work at well below what you would deem normal market rates in the telco sector, but they believe in the project.”

Conroy said the idea of Telstra shareholders having a major stake in the NBN ­ floated last week by former Telstra CEO Ziggy Switkowski ­ was “a very sensible suggestion” and “something we’d be prepared to consider.”

However Conroy pointedly said the Government would retain a 51 percent stake in the NBN until it legislates to “sell down the stake” at some point in the future ­ and it wouldn’t be sold to a retail company.

Conroy said a demerger and structural separation of Telstra would result in the NBN being built faster and cheaper than if Telstra’s existing network stood alone. But he noted that Optus and Nextgen have significant networks that could also be partners to the NBN.

“At the end of the day it will come down to, I would imagine, price and value,” said Conroy.

 

Meanwhile, Ziggy Switkowski may be firming as a possible favourite for the chairmanship at the NBN Co, at least in some eyes ­ though Switkowski last week told Kohler’s Business Spectator he hadn’t been sounded out. Several other candidates, including former Optus and Fairfax chief Chris Anderson, reportedly have been ruled out.

And there’s still a chance an international candidate could take the plum job, though imports are somewhat on the nose after the performance of Sol Trujillo and his team at Telstra ­ also recommended by Egon Zehnder.

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