Morten Lundal - Chief executive officer of Maxis Bhd


  • Business
  • Saturday, 28 Dec 2013

MORTEN Lundal, a man who once transformed one of the nation’s smallest telcos, DiGi.Com Bhd, into a leader in the prepaid segment of the market, has been tasked with giving telecom giant Maxis Bhd a fresh coat of paint.

He surprised the market when he took up the role of CEO at Maxis in mid-July, mainly due to the fact that he once was DiGi’s CEO.

While he was engaged at DiGi between 2004 and 2008, Lundal broke down silos and refocused the company towards its consumers. His time at DiGi saw the group’s profit quadruple and its share price increase six-fold.

He then left the company well-known for its Yellow Man mascot, for Vodafone Group Plc, taking role as group chief commercial officer.

In late June, the market was rife with speculation that Maxis was courting Lundal, when he was spotted in Malaysia’s capital city.

Just a few weeks later, it was announced that Lundal had been hired as CEO to shake things up at the sluggish giant telco.

Lundal is intrigued by how Maxis has been drifting in the last two years and how hard it is to revive the momentum again. Although he says Maxis is not in any trouble, he adds that it is stuck in negative momentum.

The company has lost its touch with customers. He wants to instil a likeability factor in the company that would once again appeal to more consumers.

He wants to spend RM1bil in capital expenditure in 2014, which will go into branding, product innovation and network. Meanwhile, he says the company will still keep its 40 sen dividend commitment in 2014.

Also, more product innovation will be done to get the youth segment to re-choose Maxis.

Since coming on board in October, he has kick-started a plan that flattens the managerial structure in Maxis, which will see some 40% of managers becoming team players instead of leaders.

Lundal will be continuing Maxis’ career transition plan in order to restructure middle management.

On top of his list of things to do is to make a comeback in the prepaid segment. A fix in the company’s branding and distribution will help do that.

Lundal aims to improve the network from “good to great”, and wants the touch points with customers strengthened.

To inspire confidence, he wants to send the message that postpaid customers can get data the way they want it. Efforts to banish the perception that Maxis is an old man’s brand, and refocus on quality will also be made.

Although revitalising Maxis will probably prove to be a hard and tedious process, Lundal believes he can make the key changes the telco needs in a year’s time.

He sees the year 2014 as a transformational year and 2015 as a year of performance.

The market may see Maxis underperforming for a few more quarters, but it will not be for long. Lundal expects to keep the company’s margins while it invests more in marketing.

The future of the company is now in his hands, and needless to say, all eyes will be on him for the comeback of Maxis. – By Wong Wei-Shen

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