Telstra said today it would buy Clear Communications from British Telecommunications for around $143 million.

In addition, shareholder loans payable by Clear to BT of about $270 million will be refinanced and the proceeds repaid to BT at completion.

That announcement coincides with TelstraSaturn's chief executive of seven years, Jack Matthews, finishing with the company today. The top job will be taken by Telstra appointee Rosemary Howard.

About 500 of 2000 workers at TelstraSaturn and Clear are expected to lose their jobs as a result of the takeover, including some of the 600-plus staff at TelstraSaturn's head office in Wellington.

Clear has been up for sale by its parent British Telecom for some time, while Telstra has been moving to take a bigger say in its joint venture with Saturn.

- NZPA