Reply to post: openreach and the pensions strawman

Form an orderly queue, people: 31,000 BT staff go to Openreach in October

Alan Brown Silver badge

openreach and the pensions strawman

If the pensions liabilities at Openreach were remotely as onorous as BT makes out, BT would be falling over itself to get rid of the business.

The reality is that the same arguments were raised against splitting by New Zealand's incumbent. After the great breakup into Spark(telco) and Chorus(linesco), the lines side went into overdrive and any pensions liabilities are a ghost of a memory as it's got more business that it can cope with.

On the other hand the former incumbent monopoly telco is a ghost of its former self which isn't even in the top 3 voice line providers anymore, let alone being the dominant player.

One of the other myths that got punctured within weeks of the breakup was that a separated lines company would have trouble raising finance. Chorus got offered better financial rates after the split whilst Spark started having to pay higher interest rates.

Given what happened in New Zealand - where the incumbent attempted to model the market along the same lines as BT/Openreach in response to the regulators stepping in and ended up being cleanly cleaved along those lines(*), you can understand WHY BT Group is terrified of what would happen if Openreach _and the lines side_ is split away from the rest of the company. It would lose both its cash cow and its means of throttling competition.

(*) Decades of legal action was headed off at the pass in New Zealand by the simple expedient of making any further broadband rollout funding conditional on 100% separation into 2 companies with completely separate share issues, boards of directors, offices, etc etc etc.

The resolution to split was passed in record time and shareholders of the exiting company were issued shares in both new companies - many sold off their Chorus shares at 30-50% below issue value on day 1 thanks to months of negative publicity and then spent the next five years kicking themselves as the shares doubled their issue value in the first year. Those who hoovered up those cut rate shares (who were the ones making all the negative statements) made out like bandits.

For all the skullduggery on share trading, New Zealand's telco market _now_ is a great example of a transition of how to do to things RIGHT - whereas it used to be held up worldwide as the best example of how NOT to privatise your telco.

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