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Singapore's M1 confirms new CEO

MobileOne officially appoints current CFO and acting-CEO, Karen Kooi, to the top position after concluding "extensive internal and external search".
Written by Eileen Yu, Senior Contributing Editor

SINGAPORE--After a three-month hunt for a new company head, MobileOne (M1) ended its search Tuesday with the official appointment of current CFO and acting-CEO Karen Kooi, to the top position.

M1 CEO Karen Kooi

Kooi will relinquish the CFO role and assume her new position effective from Apr. 22, some three months after the Fellow Chartered Certified Accountant was first appointed to take over as interim chief, following former CEO Neil Montefiore's resignation in January. The CFO role will be filled and announced at a later date.

M1 had initiated an "extensive internal and external search and review...for the best candidate" following Montefiore's departure, the mobile operator said in a press statement.

Chairman Teo Soon Hoe said: "Karen has very strong leadership credentials and financial experience, along with significant expertise in the telecommunications industry. With her characteristic energy and passion, she played a key role in the growth and success of M1." Teo added that Kooi was involved in several of the company's "strategic decisions".

An employee at M1 since she joined as CFO in August 1995, Kooi was part of the team that was responsible for the development and April 1997 launch of M1's commercial operations in Singapore. She also helped bring the company public in 2002.

In its first quarter 2009, ended Mar. 31, M1 clocked a 10.3 percent net profit increase to S$41.9 million (US$27.7 million). Revenue from its non-voice services grew to 25.1 percent, compared to 23.2 percent in the previous year.

According to IDC numbers, M1 holds the smallest share in Singapore's mobile market at 26 percent, behind leader SingTel at 46 percent and StarHub at 28 percent.

In a ZDNet Asia report Monday, a Canalys analyst said M1 needs to seal a content-service partnership to better compete against the country's two other telcos--both of which already own content via their TV services.

The company also lost out on its bids for the NetCo and OpCo tenders involving the development of Singapore's planned next-generation national broadband network.

M1 earlier this month kicked off a three-month mobile payment pilot based on near-field communication technology, along with partners Citibank and Visa.

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