PETALING JAYA: Telecommunications firm Axiata Group Bhd is standing by the company’s appointment of Michael Kuehner, a German national, as Celcom Axiata Bhd’s new chief executive officer (CEO) despite objections over his appointment.
Datuk Seri Shazalli Ramly, who is the present CEO, had been promoted to corporate executive vice-president and regional CEO for Axiata’s South-East Asian operations effective Sept 1.
Clarifying its position on the matter, Axiata said a four-person leadership team had been appointed to support Kuehner and help spearhead Celcom’s next phase of growth.
The team comprises three bumiputra talents – Celcom’s executive committee (exco) chairman Tan Sri Jamaludin Ibrahim, and its two deputy CEOs Azwan Khan Osman Khan and Mohamed Adlan Tajudin.
“To ensure the bumiputra and national agenda remains intact and on top of securing a successful business transformation, the Celcom exco will meet more frequently than the board.
“This team will be further supported by a new bumiputra chief human capital officer. We have also promoted at the same time a Malaysian as the new chief financial officer (CFO) to take over from an expatriate CFO,” the company said in a statement yesterday.
Axiata’s response was in reference to remarks by Klang Umno chief Datuk Nasaruddin M Zin, who had said at the division’s meeting recently that the CEO position in Celcom should be given to a Malay or Malaysian.
Axiata said the new CEO’s appointment was planned as a short-term measure with a view to grooming a bumiputra successor among the company’s pool of talent. It also defended Kuehner’s credentials, saying that he was well-respected for his understanding of Malaysia’s aspirations and sensitivities, having worked here for the last 15 years.
“As a true professional, Kuehner is a long-standing member of the Axiata group, and is committed to both the commercial and national objectives of Celcom.
“In his CEO role, he will continue to carry the Prime Minister’s approved mandates to empower bumiputra human capital and equality of opportunity as his personal key performance indicator,” the company added.
Nasaruddin had told delegates at the division’s AGM on Aug 27 that they were saddened by Kuehner’s appointment, as the country’s telecommunications industry had churned out many local professionals who were capable of doing the job.