SingTel appoints Int'l CEO, Optus peer

Former VP of consumer products promoted to CEO International as Australian operations see profit boost

Singaporean telco giant, SingTel (ASX:SGT), has appointed the chief operating officer of its Thai subsidiary Advanced Info Services (AIS) as the telco group’s chief executive of international.

Hui Weng Cheong will assume the role at Optus’ parent company from 1 December after four years at AIS, succeeding the retiring Lim Chuan Poh, following an internal and external search for Poh’s successor.

“During his time at AIS, Mr Hui has helped shape its marketing and product focus, and rationalise the sales and distribution channels,” SingTel noted in an ASX statement. Hui oversaw the subsidiary’s transition to a higher focus on data, including the rollout of a 3G network.

Hui has spent time in several roles at the SingTel Group, including vice president of its consumer products division, as well as chief executive of SingNet and SingTel Paging, largely looking after mobile broadband operations in the group’s Singapore home base.

“Given Hui’s vast experience and proven capabilities, he is well placed to further grow the Group’s overseas investments and deepen relationships with our overseas partners,” SingTel Group chief executive officer, Chua Sock Koong, said in the statement.

A spokesperson for SingTel confirmed with Computerworld Australia that Hui would not look after Optus in Australia, but rather India, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, Pakistan and Bangladesh. He will also be a peer to Optus chief executive, Paul O’Sullivan, who both report to Chua directly.

SingTel posted a first quarter net profit of $SGD943 million ($AUD780 million at time of writing) earlier in the month, signalling strong performance in its home operations in Singapore and Australia. Total revenue for the group rose 12 per cent to $SGD4.3 billion ($AUD3.31 billion), with an operational earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) of $SGD1.255 billion ($AUD1.04 billion).

Optus formed a key part of the Group’s first quarter earnings, racking up its seventh consecutive quarter with double digital mobile service revenue growth, with total first quarter revenue of $AUD2.256 billion and a net profit of $170 million, up 22 per cent. The telco currently counts 8.69 million Australian users in its total mobile base, compared to 10.56 million postpaid and prepaid mobile subscribers on Telstra’s network.

The Australian telco has also looked to cement its position as one of the few major local service providers, bolstering its hybrid fibre coaxial (HFC) network for 100 megabits per second (Mbps) speeds in metropolitan areas, and planning an upgrade to its satellite network that will boost downstream speeds to 6Mbps for regional users.

In the recent quarterly earnings update, Optus chief executive, Paul O’Sullivan, indicate intentions to meet renewed competition from Telstra.

"We expect that what's been signalled by our competitor is a far more aggressive period in the next six to 12 months," O'Sullivan said.

"We look forward to seeing them in the marketplace."

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