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Stanhope hangs up on a stellar career

TELSTRA chief financial officer John Stanhope is retiring after more than four decades with the company, though not until he seals a deal locking in billions of dollars of cash payments from government-owned NBN Co.

TELSTRA chief financial officer John Stanhope is retiring after more than four decades with the company, though not until he seals a deal locking in billions of dollars of cash payments from government-owned NBN Co.

His last big task will be helping the board get shareholder approval for Telstra's deal with NBN Co, under which it will receive an after-tax $9 billion over the next 35 years.

At 60 years of age and after eight years as CFO, Mr Stanhope's retirement has been expected. He is believed to be looking for a "post-executive" career.

Mr Stanhope was appointed CFO in 2003 by former chief executive Ziggy Switkowski and has served three chief executives.

Telstra chief executive David Thodey said Mr Stanhope's contribution to the company had been "enormous".

"We look forward to him continuing to play a critical role as we seek shareholder approval for Telstra's participation in the national broadband network," Mr Thodey said.

Ian Martin, an analyst with brokerage RBS, described him as having provided continuity and certainty for the company when it replaced both the former chief executive and former chairman after the rocky Trujillo era.

Telstra yesterday started looking for a replacement CFO and BusinessDay believes the front runner is the deputy CFO, Mark Hall.

Mr Stanhope, who in 1967 joined what was then called the Postmaster-General's Department, will depart after 44 years with the company.

He was appointed director of finance in 1995 and helped with the gradual privatisation of Telstra in partial floats in 1996, 1999 and 2003.

By now a specialist in redundancy packages, Mr Stanhope has overseen the departure of about 45,000 staff in 15 years from 76,500 in 1996 to about 30,000 full-time domestic staff this year.

Mr Stanhope was reportedly a contender for the top job when Sol Trujillo resigned in early 2009, but was beaten by Mr Thodey.

Mr Stanhope will stay on until December 30, 10 days after the deal with NBN Co either wins shareholder approved or lapses.

When he leaves, he will also retire from 10 board positions at companies associated with Telstra, including as chairman of Telstra Clear, and a director of Foxtel and Telstra Super.

He retains a spot on the board of the Melbourne International Jazz Festival.


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