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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Telstra Chief Quits Before Privatization

SYDNEY, Australia -- Australia's largest listed company, telecommunications giant Telstra, announced Wednesday its chief executive will stand down by July 2005 -- two years before his contract ends.

Chairman Donald McGauchie said Ziggy Switkowski will leave the company by July 1 and Telstra's board will immediately begin a wide-ranging search for a replacement.

There is growing speculation that the Australian government will sell off its majority 51.8 percent stake in Telstra sometime after Prime Minister John Howard's administration takes control of the Senate in mid-2005. Once that happens the government will be able to push through its plan to privatize its 30 billion Australian-dollar stake in Telstra. Industry analysts said Telstra would need an aggressive new chief as it prepared to venture into total privatization. "The fully privatized Telstra will attract the best and brightest from an international field," said industry analyst Mark McDonnell.