Telstra confirms $454m Sensis sale

Telstra is selling a majority stake in its telephone directory business Sensis to a US private equity firm for $454 million.

Platinum Equity is buying 70 per cent of Sensis, which operates the Yellow and White Pages, leaving Telstra with a 30 per cent stake in the directories.

The sales excludes Sensis’s voice services business, with Telstra continuing to provide directory assistance services under the 1223, 1234 and 12456 numbers.

In a statement on the deal, Telstra says Sensis will continue producing and distributing the White Pages directory as required under Telstra’s carrier licence.

Telstra’s chief executive David Thodey says he believes Sensis can prosper more as a standalone business than under the telco’s management.

“Platinum Equity will operate Sensis as a separate entity, giving it the focus it needs to extend and enhance customer offerings and benefits in an agile digital world,” he noted in a statement.

The $454 million sale price is only 2.4 times Sensis’s forecast 2014 financial year earnings, although Telstra says this is consistent with recent global sales of director businesses.

Telstra says the proceeds of the sale will be incremental to about $4.6-5.1 billion of free cashflow expected for the telco this financial year.

However, Telstra says it will be booking a $150 million accounting loss on the Sensis sale, with around $100 million to be included in its December 2013 half-year results.

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