Telstra Corporation Ltd [ASX:TLS] is one of Australia’s oldest and longest operating entities. It is also the most held stock on the ASX. Originating with Australia Post in 1901 under the control of the Postmaster-General, Telstra was to build and operate the country’s telecommunication networks. Today, it is one of the 20 largest companies listed on the ASX and Australia’s largest telecommunications company by market share.
TLS was first listed on the ASX in 1998 as part of the Howard government’s initiative to privatise the organisation. With the government selling off their holdings in three phases, the final phase occurring in 2006, their shareholding was reduced to 17%, which were placed in Australia’s Future Fund. In 2011, the Future Fund sold its remaining shares, completing Telstra’s privatisation. There are now more than one million shareholders of Telstra.
The Telstra share price has been a lightning rod for politicians over the years. In 2010, the NBN debacle played havoc in seats where voters had high Telstra ownership. Despite being named Australia’s most respected company in 2014, and former CEO David Thodey’s transformation agenda, Telstra’s important mobile segment has been on a slow decline. As has its dividends.
Like many blue chip stocks, investors do not expect high returns from the Telstra share price. Instead, they hold Telstra for a variety of other reasons, such as its global presence and large customer network.