Shahril Ridza is the new Axiata chairman effective Jan 1, 2022

by AZREEN HANI / pic by TMR FILE

Axiata Group Bhd has named ex-Khazanah Nasional Bhd MD Tan Sri Shahril Ridza Ridzuan (picture) as the group’s new chairman effective Jan 1, 2022.

He replaces current Chairman Tan Sri Ghazzali Sheikh Abdul Khalid who will step down in line with his planned intention to retire from the position on Dec 31, 2021, Axiata announced in a release to Bursa Malaysia yesterday.

“Tan Sri Ghazzali has been exemplary in his service to the Board spanning 13 years with Axiata. I have been privileged to work with him on the Board both as a colleague as well as reporting to him in my current role,” Axiata’s president and CEO Datuk Izzaddin Idris said in a statement yesterday.

Shahril was appointed to the Axiata Board as an Independent Non-Executive Director Nov 29, 2021. Presently, he is a Non-Executive Director of Malaysia Airlines Bhd and Malaysia Aviation Group Bhd, where he chairs the Board Nomination and Remuneration Committee.

From Aug 20, 2018 to Aug 19, 2021, he led Khazanah as its MD.

“I would like to thank the Board for entrusting me with this appointment. The telecommunications industry is well-poised to serve the digital needs of nations and communities seeking recovery and growth in the post pandemic environment. It is an opportune time to position Axiata for increased value creation across the region. I welcome this opportunity to contribute and look forward to working with the Board and management towards continuing the good work by Tan Sri Ghazzali in future-proofing Axiata in sustainable and inclusive ways.” said Shahril in the same statement.

Shahril’s appointment comes as Axiata seeks to merge its Malaysian business under Celcom Axiata Bhd with Digi.Com Bhd which is controlled by Telenor Group.

Axiata shares closed 14 sen higher at RM3.79 a share on the appointment.

Izzadin stated Ghazzali was also instrumental in engineering a meticulous succession plan for the mission-critical change in senior leadership at Axiata.

“I took great comfort in the stewardship and guidance extended during his leadership,” said the CEO.

Ghazzali is the longest serving Board member in Axiata, having been appointed on  March 24, 2008 and assumed the role of the Chairman Nov 1, 2018 following a short duration as Interim Chairman from mid-2018.

Under his stewardship, Axiata expanded its footprint to 11 countries within ASEAN and South Asia, not just in its core business of mobile telecommunications but also into telecoms infrastructure and digital businesses.

He will continue to chair the Axiata Foundation a position he held since its incorporation on April 6, 2011, upon his retirement.

The Foundation has invested RM100 million over 10 years to train and develop 2,262 young Malaysians under the Axiata Young Talent Programme, a talent factory geared towards shaping future CEOs who could lead global organisations. Upon stepping down as Chairman of Axiata, he will continue to chair the Foundation.

“I am indebted to my fellow Board members for your collective trust, support and cooperation over the years. I have been very fortunate to have served alongside such a stellar group of colleagues and appreciate the discussions, deliberations and challenges that have shaped the many decisions resulting in the Axiata we know today. The management and employees of Axiata across our footprint have been gracious in your trust, support, and dedication. I express my heartfelt gratitude to the Axiata team and wish you the best in being at the forefront of regional digitalisation,” Ghazzali said.