Photo - Albern Murty, CEO, Digi
Malaysian telecom Digi has announced that Albern Murty will take up the role of chief executive officer effective 1 April 2015.
Sigve Brekke, chairman of Digi.com and head of region Asia, Telenor Group, which is a 49 percent shareholder of Digi, said Murty will replace the current chief executive officer, Lars-Åke Norling, who will be appointed chief executive officer of dtac (Total Access Communication PCL), Telenor Group's business unit in Thailand.
"I'm pleased to announce the appointment of some of Telenor Group's most experienced executives to our two biggest companies in Asia," said Brekke. "Albern has grown through the ranks of Digi, and has contributed strongly to the company's relentless customer focus and its innovative Internet for All approach."
"He has played a central role in driving the company's operations and results in his time with the senior management team at Digi, and is a proven and capable business leader," he said. "Digi today is a company with a clear vision, a well-established strategy, and a solid foundation for future growth, and I am confident that under Albern's leadership the company will continue to succeed."
"At the same time, the Board of Directors wishes to express our thanks to Lars-Åke for his effective contribution to the company as CEO. dtac is currently in the middle of a major drive to become Thailand's leading internet provider, and an experienced telecoms executive like Lars-Åke brings all the vital competencies required to continue that journey," added Brekke.
Murty, a Malaysian, is a Digi veteran who has been with the company since 2002. He was appointed chief operating officer on January 1, 2014, according to a company statement. As chief marketing Officer prior to this position he was responsible for driving the company's overall revenue growth. He has held previous management roles as head of strategy & new business, and co-chief marketing officer.
"Heading Digi in Malaysia is both an honour and a true privilege for me," said Murty. "Digi has a strong market presence in Malaysia, and possesses a solid track record of performance excellence and innovation. I look forward to working with my highly talented and passionate colleagues in Digi to drive the next phase of our growth story, and most importantly to continue to delight and inspire our customers every day. On behalf of all Digizens, I also thank Lars for his good leadership and look forward to working with him as part of the wider Telenor Asia family."
Digi's performance momentum
Speaking on Digi's performance, Frost & Sullivan Asia Pacific industry principal for Telecom, Naveen Mishra said the company has maintained its performance momentum and closed another year with 45 percent EBITDA [earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization] margin.
Mishra said, "2014 turned out to be a remarkable year for Digi, its revenues grew to RM7.0 [US$1.96] billion (y-o-y 4.2 percent). During the year it added 426,000 new customers, however over 95 percent of them were in prepaid segment. Its voice revenues declined by 3.6 percent, whereas data revenues grew by 16.5 percent."
He said Digi's performance was driven by factors, which included strong network coverage, a wide range of affordable smartphones & devices, innovative device bundles and plans, innovative digital services and service touchpoints,.
"[Regarding service touchpoints], Digi continued its investment into network expansion where its 3G network coverage reached to 86 percent population. During the year it sold over a million smartphones & devices (1.083 million) and offered innovative device bundles and plans, which helped its internet subscribers to reach 6.4 million, growing from 4.9 million (net 1.5 million addition)," said Mishra.
"The proliferation of smartphones and availability of quality network helped it to grow its internet customer base to 56.5 percent of its total subscribers, which is 7.2 percent higher than the smartphone penetration (49.3 percent) on its network," he said.
"This gap of 7.2 percent between internet penetration and smartphone penetration will be a key target segment for Digi in 2015, as customers in this segment would like to shift to smartphones soon," said Mishra. "Data traffic on its network registered 86 percent annual growth. Going forward company plans to grow its postpaid business as well, on which data traffic grew by only 38 percent y-o-y as compared to 134 percent y-o-y on prepaid segment."
"In the years to come, the challenge would be to create significant digital services business to support the growth currently coming from increasing mobile internet user base," he said. "Growing digital services business is extremely challenging as it requires collaboration among large number of eco-system players. Key digital services to focus would be Mobile Payment, Mobile Advertising and Digital Entertainment."
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