The NZX investigated the matter promptly, and says this:
Telecom compliant with continuous disclosure obligations
4 May 2006 - New Zealand Exchange Limited (NZX) confirmed that, on the basis of the information available to it, Telecom New Zealand Limited (TEL) was not in breach of its continuous disclosure obligations, under the NZX Listing Rules administered by NZX, on 3 May 2006.
TEL has advised NZX that it had apparently received a leaked Government document overnight on 2/3 May regarding possible regulation of TEL's fixed-line network. TEL had no indication as to the status of that document, or its accuracy, and sought urgent clarification of the document's status from Mr Cunliffe's Office and from the Office of the Prime Minister. In so doing TEL stated that, were the document to be an official statement of the Government's position, TEL had concerns that it may be obliged to release it to the market under its continuous disclosure obligations.
TEL heard nothing in response. At 4.30pm Mr Cunliffe's Office announced that the Minister would hold a media conference at 5.15pm, to make a "major announcement".
At 4.37pm the global data distributors carried news of the impending announcement, which was then transmitted via all broker trading screens into the markets. Following this, TEL began receiving media calls relating to the announcement to be made by Mr Cunliffe that afternoon. TEL was not aware of the upcoming media conference at that point in time, nor of its proposed content.
On the basis of the above information, NZX is satisfied that TEL fulfilled its obligation to disclose all material information to NZX. Had TEL received confirmation as it requested from the Government, prior to the New Zealand market closing at 5.00pm local time, that the paper leaked to it was an official Government position, TEL would have been obliged to disclose this. In the event TEL did not receive such confirmation from the Government.
(My italics above)
Telecom is in the clear with the NZX, but what is interesting here is that the leaked document was received overnight, and not after the cabinet meeting as was first said.
The NZ government is clearly angered by the leak, which is arguably one of the biggest in the country's recent history - it spoilt Dr Cullen's Budget Day on the 18th for instance. So who leaked the document to Telecom? Is there a Telecom mole close to the government?
An inquiry has been launched into the leak according to the NZPA. My Techsploder blog was quoted in the news report, and a spokesman for Prime Minister Helen Clark's office say the comments I made added to the need for an inquiry.
I didn't know that the news of the impending announcement went out at 4,37pm that afternoon; NZX didn't tell me this when I spoke to them earlier today. I can say for sure though that "TEL" wasn't forthcoming with information when asked directly if there was a local loop unbundling announcement coming up. Instead, their spokesman denied it.
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