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Tough times for telecom bosses in 2012

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Beeline former general-manager Gael Campan speaks during a press conference in Phnom Penh. Campan left the company in May 2012. Photograph: Heng Chivoan/Phnom Penh Post

The year 2012 has seen a number of changes of personnel within different companies in Cambodia, particularly in the telecommunications sector, but also in the insurance and banking industry.

According to In Channy, ACLEDA Bank’s CEO and vice chairman of the International Business Chamber Cambodia, the changes did not represent any irregularities.

“They are part of the normal routine, and it’s not a surprise. Except one case, but I cannot comment [on that],” he explained.

In March, Chief Executive Damian Bell resigned from ANZ Royal Bank after little more than a month in the job. While his decision surprised analysts, Royal Group Chairman Kith Meng told the Post that the move was “part of our company strategy”.

Grant Knuckey, former head of ANZ’s corporate and institutional services division in Shanghai, overtook the responsibility to lead the bank’s Laos and Cambodia operations in April.

“Grant’s new role will help us to take a more integrated view to opportunities, connecting the two economies with the rest of our network,” ANZ Chairman Asia Gilles Planté said in a media statement.

Troubled Cambodian mobile operator Beeline, a subsidiary of VimpelCom, saw four general directors in three months.

After Gael Campan’s departure in May, analysts doubted that Beeline would last long. The general manager’s successor, Siddhanta Kothari, then left the mobile operator after only two months.

Meanwhile, interim general director, Ashraf Sahab, Beeline’s former commercial director, replaced him, but was followed by Said Abbadi, former chairman of Newroz Telecom in Kurdistan, in August.

According to newspaper reports Beeline is struggling to gain a significant market share and was considering a sell-off. However, it remains unclear whether this might be a reason for the shifts in the management.

Less turbulent was Mfone’s transition to Chairman Suttisak Khndhikajana in February. Under its new head, coming from Thailand’s largest mobile operator by subscriber numbers, the company would refresh its business and integrate services that could reduce the cost to its customers, spokesman Atip Rattaporn told the Phnom Penh Post. Mfone lost about 380,000 subscribers between May and November in 2011, maintaining it number five among the Kingdom’s eight active service providers.

However, In Channy said strong competition within the telecommunication industry in Cambodia had influenced human resource decisions. Companies would look for new ideas and strategies to compete in the market.

After having worked for SilkAir for 13 years, Leslie Thng became the company’s chief executive in September. “[Former Chairman Marvin Tan] has been leading SilkAir through an especially exciting time in the airline’s history,” SilkAir Chairman Mak Swee Wah said.

“SilkAir will continue to provide a high level of service, and Cambodia will continue to be one of our important markets,” Thng said after his appointment.

Manulife veteran Robert J Elliott took over as chairman at the Cambodian branch of the global insurance grant in October. After his start as management trainee in 1980 he built up Manulife’s UK agency in Sheffield, England. Elliott was chosen to start the life insurer’s newest operation in Phnom Penh. “We’re starting out very simply with a protection term plan which runs for ten years, and we will be building on that and introducing life insurance policies with savings components as we start to build up the expertise and knowledge,” he told Post after his appointment.

Manulife is the first wholly foreign-owned life insurance company operating in Cambodia.

 

To contact the reporter on this story: Sarah Thust at saraharbeit@gmx.de
 

Anne Renzenbrink at anne.renzenbrink@phnompenhpost.com

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