THE chairmen and chief executives of Telekom Malaysia Bhd and Celcom (M) Bhd, in a joint press conference yesterday, denied there was a rift between them and disagreement over the re-listing of Celcom, contrary to some recent media reports.
“We wish to stress that it has always been the intention of Telekom to get Celcom on the KLSE to unlock value for Telekom shareholders. In fact, the exercise should be carried out as soon as (feasible),’’ Telekom chairman Tan Sri Md Radzi Mansor said.
Also present were Datuk Dr Munir Majid, a director of Telekom and chairman of Celcom; Datuk Dr Khir Abdul Rahman, the chief executive of Telekom; and Datuk Ramli Abbas, the CEO of Celcom.
Radzi, however, declined to give a firm time frame for Celcom's re-listing, or when advisers would be appointed. He said it was the prerogative of the Telekom board to decide on the timing and that the decision would be based on board “consensus’’.
A board committee – comprising Munir (chairman), Khir, and Telekom directors Datuk Halim Shafie and Datuk Abdul Majid Hussein – was set up last October to look into the re-listing of Celcom.
Asked why Ramli was not part of the committee, Radzi said: “The committee was drawn from board members; but Ramli provides information when needed.’’
Radzi went on to explain that it was not the norm or policy for Telekom to hold a press conference after a board meeting, “but this was called to clarify some matters raised in recent press reports.’’
Before the board meeting one newspaper (not TheStar) suggested that Telekom's first board meeting of 2004 would be a stormy affair, and that there were different camps within Telekom and Celcom. It added that several motions would be raised, including one to oust certain directors.
As it turned out, the 14-hour board meeting was stretched over two days – Tuesday and Wednesday – due to a long agenda.
“We wish to state that it is not true that there are factions in the board beyond the normal differences and perspectives on some matters, which we view as healthy and constructive. The directors wish to record that the first meeting of the year proceeded in a convivial – and not acrimonious – manner, as some press reports may have suggested,’’ Radzi said.
He also denied there was a motion to remove Datuk Abdul Rahman Ismail and Datuk Ng Kong Yeam of Celcom as reported.
“With respect to the membership or the restructuring of the board of directors within the group, on which again there has been much speculation, I wish to let you know that the board discussed the alignment of Celcom within Telekom group's organisational and governance structure.
“The board deliberated on this matter, but required further input in view of the business policy to give Celcom greater flexibility and independence in its operations,’’ Radzi read out from a statement.
It was reported that a consultant had recommended that Khir sit on all boards of Telekom’s units for greater control, but Radzi said there was “no resolution for Khir to sit on the boards’’.
Asked to comment on market speculation that the chairmen of Celcom and Telekom were “planning to oust the two CEOs (Khir and Ramli), who would be given walking papers very soon’’, Radzi said: “No, there are no letters, there is no such thing. The CEOs are very much here.’’
To a remark, attributed to some market players, that there “appears to be no harmony at the top level of the two companies, and that this would erode shareholder value, he said: “We are working in harmony. Do you want us to hold hands and show you? Are we destroying shareholder value?’’
Asked if Khir had put in a letter – but stopped at the eleventh hour – to remove Munir, Radzi said: “I don’t know where you got this. I have not seen the letter.’’
Asked if earlier media reports quoting Munir as questioning the pace of the Celcom re-listing and urging that “things move faster’’ suggested that he was questioning the leadership of Telekom, he said: “You have to ask Munir that.’’
Munir did not comment.
Radzi added that the board had approved the proposed implementation of performance-based contractual appointments for senior management, that is, general managers and above. He said this was decided on even before the recent call by the Prime Minister to the private sector to move towards greater efficiency and competitiveness through performance-based remuneration.
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