Three names tipped to replace Axiata’s Jamaludin

by AZREEN HANI/ pic by BLOOMBERG

AT LEAST three candidates have been identified to lead Axiata Group Bhd if the telecommunication giant decides not to extend its group CEO Tan Sri Jamaludin Ibrahim’s contract which will end in March next year.

A source familiar with the matter said two of the candidates are familiar names in the local telecommunications company (telco) industry.

The source who spoke under condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter, said former Maxis Bhd’s CFO, Nasution Mohamed’s name has been tossed in the ring to fill to top post of the telco.

Former Maxis’ CFO Rossana Rashidi is also said to be among the credible candidates being considered due to her wealth of experience in the sector.

Previous reports suggested that Nasution and Rossana had also been targeted to drive Telekom Malaysia Bhd’s (TM) transformation.

“Another name that has been brought up is Tengku Datuk Seri Azmil Zahruddin Raja Abdul Aziz. He is a board member and would be a perfect fit should the group want to appoint an internal candidate,” the source told The Malaysian Reserve.

Tengku Azmil Zahruddin was appointed as a non-independent non-ED of Axiata in January last year.

However, the source also said Jamaludin’s contract may also be extended if the stakeholders are happy with the group’s future direction.

“Do not write Jamaludin off yet. He might get an extension if all stakeholders are convinced he is the best person to lead Axiata, taking his track record into consideration,” said the source.

Axiata Group had extended Jamaludin’s contract in March 2017, stating that the former Maxis Communications Bhd group CEO has turned Axiata into a regional champion with major mobile operations in eight countries, and digital/Internet ventures and tower infrastructure services among others.

Khazanah Nasional Bhd is a major shareholder in Axiata.

Jamaludin has led Axiata since March 2008 after he retired from Maxis. Axiata planned megamerger with Norway’s Telenor SA for their Asian fell through after four months of intense discussions. The merger would have created the largest telco in the country as Telenor owns a substantial stake in DiGi.Com Bhd.

The 60-year-old Jamaludin told The Edge recently that despite the failed mega-merger, Axiata would look for smaller-scale deals to ensure long-term survival of the telco.

“It’s just that we decided that it was too complex (and decided to end the talks),” Jamaludin was quoted as saying when asked about what caused the proposed merger to fall through in September.

The merger would assist Axiata which had to spend billions of ringgit in capital expenditure to roll out the 5G infrastructure especially for its businesses in Indonesia. In Malaysia, the market is already saturated with little growth, but telcos can’t ignore the need to invest in5G.