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Telekom Malaysia Bhd recently announced chairman Rosli Man had received a request from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) to defer acting group CEO Imri Mokhtar appointment. NSTP photo by MOHAMAD SHAHRIL BADRI SAALI

KUALA LUMPUR: The impasse over Telekom Malaysia Bhd’s top executive (TM) is expected to be resolved soon after Hari Raya festivities.

The outcome would most likely see the appointment of a former senior executive from Celcom Malaysia Bhd as TM group chief executive officer (CEO), people close to the matter said.

Last November, then chairman Tan Sri Sulaiman Mahbob and the board had recommended the appointment of Imri Mokhtar as acting group CEO and onwards as group CEO to the Ministry of Finance (MOF).

Last week, a financial daily reported that TM chairman Rosli Man had refused to proceed with Imri’s appointment as group CEO despite the approval of its special shareholder, the Minister of Finance Inc.

Sources said it was in end-February that Rosli had come to know of Sulaiman's recommendation to the MoF.

TM, in responding to the report via a filing to Bursa Malaysia last Friday, said Rosli had received a request from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) to defer Imri’s appointment.

The group said Rosli, who was brought in to rejuvenate TM in December last year, had informed the board on the PMO’s request in early March.

They said on being appointed chairman, Rosli had proposed a number of new strategies to Imri but found the younger man rather tentative.

Upon discussions with various stakeholders, two candidates were shortlisted for possible CEO appointment.

“TM's nominations and remunerations committee (NRC) interviewed the two candidates and found one of them to surpass Imri in terms of immediate suitability,” one source said.

“With two candidates being selected, the final board decision was delayed. Things came to a head at the group’s recent annual general meeting when Rosli was queried on the stalled appointment,” the source said.

It is learnt that it would be appropriate to allow Imri, 44, more time to gain experience before assuming the post possibly in two years.

Sources told the New Straits Times that Imri’s appointment seems drastic given that he was confirmed as chief operating officer (COO) for just two weeks before events saw him appointed acting CEO.

“If it is just ‘business as usual’, then Imri can be appointed as group CEO. But if it is serious about turning TM around into a world-class company, the board must consider appointing someone with more experience and capability,” the source said.

“Imri is still young. He can work with the new CEO to grow and gain more experience before being brought back to the succession plan,” he added.

Rosli, when contacted by the NST, confirmed that the group had an “outside” candidate and would convene a board meeting once it obtained approval from its major stakeholders.

The sources said the future direction of the group with some 25,000 employees was at stake, citing an example of the lack of progress at subsidiary Packet One Networks (M) Sdn Bhd (P1) since being taken over by TM some four years ago.

P1, now known as Webe Digital Sdn Bhd, is bleeding losses, except for financial year 2016, since TM took it over in September 2014.

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