New man, new agenda at Telekom Malaysia?

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  • Saturday, 15 Jun 2019

DATUK Noor Kamarul Anuar Nuruddin (pic) is no novice to technology or the telecoms sector.

He has been in the industry for a long time. Expertise and experience count, and that is one of the reasons he has been selected to lead Telekom Malaysia Bhd (TM).

TM seems to be at a crossroads and needs to be relooked at. There is the daunting issue of 5G that it needs to tackle plus how it can capitalise on its position as the leading broadband player within the 5G environment.

Broadband is key but mobility continues to be a big factor going forward.

That explains why TM chairman Rosli Man is said to be talking about “building a wireless network’’ these days.

For that to happen, a new business is needed but more critical are the returns TM can make from these new ventures.

“That is Noor Kamaurul’s job, among the many other things he has to do to move the giant forward,’’ says an industry executive who declined to be named.

Noor Kamarul was appointed as TM’s new managing director/CEO on Friday and he clocks in at TM next week.

Imri Mokhtar, who has been holding the fort since November last year as TM acting CEO, goes back to his former position as chief operating officer, an important post to ensure the day-to-day running of TM goes on smoothly.

Noor Kamarul, 60, declined comment when contacted yesterday.

StarBizWeek had named Noor Kamarul as a possible new CEO for TM in an article dated June 1 entitled “Who stays and who leaves at TM”.

In fact, following his appointment, Noor Kamarul is the fourth CEO at TM in just over a year. Soon after the 14th general election (GE14) results last May, which brought in a new government, the-then TM CEO Datuk Seri Shazalli Ramly quit. In his place, Datuk Bazlan Osman was appointed as acting group CEO.

In November, Bazlan also decided to throw in the towel and Imri was appointed as acting CEO. Over the past few weeks, the lobbyist network was in full gear to get Imri to become the permanent CEO but Rosli (appointed as chairman in December) had his own preferences.

Kamarul was one of the two candidates interviewed for the job.

Now that the issue of who stays and who leaves is sorted with Noor Kamarul firmly at the driver’s seat, there are already a lot of expectations of what he should do.

Apart from the technology roadmap, the one thing experts believe he should address is to detach TM as a government linked company to a corporate organisation.

There can be continuous debate over this topic but as one source pointed out “TM needs to detach itself from the GLC mentality and move and operate like a corporate. It needs to focus on profit, cost, productivity and returns/dividends.’’

“It has to ensure it can compete in a competitive environment and not cry to its parent (the government) for protection every time competition becomes intense,’’ he adds.

“So long it has this GLC tag, it is not going to be easy shaking this organisation and turning it around,’’ another source adds.

TM also needs to identify new ways to generate revenue, revisit some of its broadband agreements and if possible, break up the wholesale and retail into two separate units to have their own cost and profit centres.

This is critical with the impending merger of Axiata Group Bhd and Telenor ASA’s Asian assets, which will create a pan-Asian giant that will leverage on 5G. In the course, the Malaysian units, Axiata’s Celcom Axiata and Telenor’s Bhd will be merged to create the largest mobile company in Malaysia.

Though TM bought webe to be in the mobile game, it pales in comparison to any of the existing big three mobile players.

Noor Kamarul needs to pull the senior team at TM together as for nearly two years, the senior team at TM has disintegrated because of the changes at the top.

“He needs to rally the troops together because the divisive nature of the lack of CEO in more than a year. He needs to unite and integrate them,’’ says a source.

While TM claims it offers “best services,’’ industry experts believe there are gaps in quality of service (QoS) it offers.

“Focus should be on improving QoS. They also have to increase demand for their services. More marketing is needed because in the many areas where they have installed broadband ports, those services are under subscribed.,’’ he adds.

Other than that it is the Streamyx issue. A solution towards faster speeds needs to be found as Tenaga Nasional Bhd has entered the fast broadband network business and can roll out its services into far more areas than TM.

“The cost cutting measures must continue and look into every aspect of the organisation,’’ says the source.

Call it a coincidence or what, the day Noor Kamarul’s appointment was announced, it was the same day the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC) visited TM for documents.

It is not clear why and on what matters.

Though some are saying “it is an ongoing matter,’’ but others are saying “it surrounds webe’’ but TM could not confirm that.

But what TM did confirm is that MACC was at its headquarters seeking certain information.

Since Rosli came onboard he has asked for audits to be conducted.

Some of the audits have been completed, others are ongoing.

However, a source did point out that “the impairments had spiked over the past three years. “We hope last year was the end of impairments and there will be no more for this year.’’

TM’s share price closed marginally lower by one sen at RM3.80 yesterday.

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