Telecom leaders Wayne Boyd and Paul Reynolds walked away relieved from the company AGM on Thursday after shareholders rejected bids by rebel candidates for the board of directors.
Mark Tume and Mark Cross had distanced themselves from their backers - 3 per cent shareholder Elliott International - and its calls for a faster, much deeper structural separation of New Zealand's biggest public company.
The clear rejection of "Two Marks" is a vote of confidence in chairman Boyd and chief executive Reynolds and their strategy.
Whatever the "Two Marks" said about their independence, their selection risked reopening messy strategic debate about the way ahead.
The selection of board nominees Kevin Roberts, with 99 per cent support, and Rod McGeoch, with 96 per cent, puts to bed the idea of structural separation - a deeper break-up of Telecom leading to the sale of its retail operation.
The strategy would lead to a one-off dividend but it would have limited prospects for maintaining dominance of the New Zealand telecommunications market.
Boyd was notably perky after the AGM.
"I am more comfortable - absolutely - and I'm happy there was such a high turnout with 65 per cent of shareholders voting when normally it would be around 40 per cent."
The board nominees had strong backing, while Tume and Cross drew 25 per cent and 22 per cent.
Boyd said a reconstituted board reviving the idea of structural separation could have diverted attention from the changes being implemented.
It was Reynolds' first AGM after a full year's work and a vote of support for the strategy he was hired to carry out - operational separation.
After years of strong returns, investors face the prospect of more competitors and massive capital expenditure.
The question is whether Telecom can make a swift change into the new regulated market and still maintain its market share and revive its flagging share valuation exacerbated by the global financial crisis. It is a tall order.
No other telco is going though these things all at once, says Rosalie Nelson, an analyst with telecommunications research company IDC. Nelson says incumbents like Telecom have a clear advantage.
"It has 58 per cent of retail broadband share and something like 64 per cent of total telecommunications revenue."
Vodafone was second with 24 per cent, Nelson said.
The good news is that former monopoly telcos around the world have tended to maintain a market share of 50-60 per cent.
New Zealand Shareholders Association chairman Bruce Sheppard said Telecom had delivered good returns over a long period and could continue to do so.
But telcos around the world faced diminishing returns as the internet-based voice services like Skype ate into revenue.
Sheppard said telecommunications had a future for some time yet.
"New Zealand spent 3 per cent of GDP on telecommunications last year but that will get smaller."
Telecom shares closed yesterday down 6c at $2.89.
"Telecom is making 25-30c a share in earnings and if they do that for 10 years, you might pay $2.50 for that," Sheppard said.
He said that National Party plans for a new fibre-optic fund represented an indirect $1.5 billion subsidy for Telecom and that could mean an additional 75c on the value of shares.
While there was talk of new players, New Zealand was an isolated market with just four million people.
Many in the industry believe that Reynolds is at the heart of Telecom's bid to reinvent itself.
When he joined, shareholders were happy but the company was loathed by many customers. It has only recently emerged from bitter relations with the market and politicians.
Asked if he was aware before accepting the job of the state of the company, he says he joined with "my eyes wide open".
"This is one of the most radical change programmes in the world. I am a professional in the telecommunications industry and I find that tremendously exciting and so did many of my colleagues who joined me here. We are here because we are all up for the challenge."
So what does Reynolds want to have achieved when he leaves?
"I don't know if I will leave," he said. "I got an air ticket and not a return - I don't have a fixed-term contract."