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Optus promotes SingTel exec for CEO role

Australia's second-largest mobile provider has appointed parent company SingTel's head of group digital life Allen Lew as its new CEO after six months of searching.
Written by Josh Taylor, Contributor on

SingTel-owned Optus has announced that its parent company's head of digital life Allen Lew will step up as the new CEO of Optus, almost six months after the departure of former CEO Kevin Russell.

Russell left the company at the end of March, after close to two years at Optus, leaving former CEO Paul O'Sullivan to step into the role until a replacement was found.

SingTel announced today that O'Sullivan will move away from a full-time role with Optus, instead being appointed as the chairman of the Australian business, with Lew stepping up as the CEO of Optus.

"After 10 years at the helm of Optus, Paul has expressed his desire for a change to a non full-time role. As the chairman of Optus, Paul continues to be a strong advocate for our Australian business, with his solid experience and knowledge. Paul will deepen our engagement with key stakeholders in the government and business community," SingTel CEO Chua Sock Koong said in a statement.

"Allen is returning to Optus, where he previously led the consumer and mobile businesses. He is a proven leader who has successfully transformed the group's Singapore operations as well as built the digital business. Under Allen's leadership, we will continue to strengthen Optus' brand and long-term profitability."

Lew has been with Optus since 1980, and has led the digital life business since April 2012. He was initially with Optus between 2001 and 2006.

The appointment comes at a time when Optus is struggling to maintain its market share in the face of Telstra's mobile dominance. In the last year alone, Optus' subscriber base has fallen 1.3 percent to 9.4 million, while Vodafone now sits at around 5 million, and Telstra sits on over 15 million mobile subscribers.

While O'Sullivan has said that the company needs to get away from being focused on customer numbers, SingTel has indicated that the company needs to regain market share.

Jonathan Auerbach, previously of McKinsey & Company, will join SingTel as the new CEO of group digital life. Bill Chang will take on the role of chief country officer for Singapore in addition to his role of CEO of group enterprise.

Tay Soo Meng and Wu Choy Peng have been appointed as SingTel's chief technology officer and chief information officer, respectively.

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