Optus, SingTel make leadership changes

Optus Australia's Paul O’Sullivan and SingTel Group Digital L!fe's Allen Lew move into new roles

A restructure of the Optus and parent company Singapore Telecommunications (SingTel) will see changes to its leadership team, which includes Optus Australia country chief officer Paul O’Sullivan and SingTel Group Digital L!fe CEO Allen Lew moving into new roles.

O’Sullivan has been appointed to Optus chairman, effective 1 October 2014. He has been in charge of Optus for 10 years.

In May 2014, O’Sullivan said that the telco’s focus over the next 12 months is to rapidly expand Optus 4G coverage where people live and work.

“In particular, we will leverage the 700MHz spectrum band, which will become available to us in the early part of the coming calendar year,” he said.

In July 2014, Optus switched on 4G on the 700MHz spectrum in the CBD areas of Darwin and Perth. Optus paid $649 million in the Digital Dividend auction for a 2x10MHz chunk of the nationwide 700MHz spectrum.

According to SingTel Group CEO Chua Sock Koong, O’Sullivan had expressed his desire for a “change to a non full-time role".

“As the chairman of Optus, Paul continues to be a strong advocate for our Australian business with his solid experience and knowledge. Paul will deepen our engagement with key stakeholders in the government and business community,” she said in a statement.

Lew will take on the role of Optus and Consumer Australia CEO from 1 October, where he'll be based in Sydney. Lew replaces Kevin Russell who left Optus in March.

Koong said that Lew is returning to Optus where he led the consumer and mobile businesses from 2001 to 2006.

“He is a proven leader who has successfully transformed the Group’s Singapore operations as well as built the digital business. Under Allen’s leadership, we will continue to strengthen Optus’ brand and long-term profitability," she said.

The Group Digital L!fe CEO role will be taken on by Jonathan Auerbach who is currently McKinsey & Company’s Asia telecommunications, media and technology practice lead.

“Jonathan brings strong credentials to SingTel, having successfully led McKinsey’s technology practices in both Asia and North America. He will build on the momentum already established in the digital business and ensure SingTel takes a proactive and aggressive approach to global digital opportunities,” said Koong.

According to Koong, the leadership changes are designed to drive greater focus in SingTel Group’s telco and digital business and sustain growth in the future.

In August 2014, Optus reported a net profit of $187 million in the first quarter of 2014, a 12.3 per cent increase on the same period last year.

Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) rose 4.4 per cent to $597 million for the quarter ended 30 June 2014. This was despite a 2.8 per cent decline in operating revenue.

O’Sullivan attributed the profit rise to popular tiered data plans such as MyPlan Plus which offers its customers data share options.

However, he said that its total mobile revenue declined 1.5 per cent due to the “continuing effect” of the industry-mandated reduction in mobile termination rates.

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