Foiled bid puts Ziggy in hot seat

Telstra's CEO Ziggy Switkowski and chairman Bob Mansfield were forced yesterday to defend their proposal to take over John Fairfax Holdings. The plan was to merge the newspaper and online operations of Fairfax with Telstra's Sensis directories business. Switkowski said yesterday a float of Sensis might still be considered. He also said he had the full confidence of the board, despite this failed proposal being the second major decision on which Telstra's board has opposed him. Some analysts are concerned by the apparent lack of unity amongst board members. It was also revealed yesterday that Prime Minister John Howard had endorsed the proposal. He said in Parliament that he had told Telstra chairman Bob Mansfield that the Government “would not intervene”.