As David Thodey drives away from his job as Telstra boss in his Toyota Corolla this week, after earning about $27 million over the past three years, he leaves with just one regret.
In an interview with the AFR this week Thodey revealed the nosedive of the company’s Sensis business was the one black spot in his time at Telstra.
Telstra sold a 70% stake of its directories business Sensis, which operates Yellow and White Pages, to Platinum Equity for $454 million in 2014. At the time the price was about 2.4 times Sensis’s forecast earnings for the financial year.
Here’s what Thodey had to say about it:
“If you wanted to put a black mark, I put a black mark on myself. You know I saw the directories print business had gone into decline around the world. We saw it and we thought we could move it online and we ended up selling 70 per cent for $454 million and I think at some point it was worth a lot of money.
However, when I look back at that, it was a conscious decision by the board because it was still generating a lot of cash through that very difficult first 18 months in the company when I took over and it actually helped us get over a very difficult position.
I look back and it wasn’t an irrational position. It was actually a very sensible decision for where we were at the time. Putting a sale through of Sensis at that time, we were negotiating through NBN, there were so many other things going on. It always feels bad when you had an asset that could have been valued in the billions, but hey.”
There’s more here.
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