CelcomDigi CEO’s focus on financial prudence, cost efficiency pays off

PETALING JAYA: Datuk Mohamad Idham Nawawi demonstrated laser-sharp focus on cost efficiency his first year at the helm of the merged CelcomDigi Bhd.

The telecommunications and mobile service provider’s CEO said he emphasised the importance of financial prudence right from the outset of what proved to be a successful first year after the largest telco merger in the region.

“We made sure that from day one, our new way of working, we’re very, very cost-aware. Setting up the new ways of working for the new company which ultimately improved the free cash flow and enabled us to, even during the integration, pay dividend,” he told a media briefing on its full-year results for FY23 recently.

Mohamad Idham said the company is committed to delivering RM8 billion in net present value/present value of cost synergies (net of integration cost).

“We attained a substantial portion of that target in the first year following integration ... about RM366 million gross synergy through the integration that we have done,” he said.

On performance, Mohamad Idham said CelcomDigi managed to retain its market share, especially the core segments and ended the year with a stronger customer base than what it had before.

“We added from January until December last year about 466,000 new customers, taking our total customer base to 20.6 million subscribers,” he disclosed.

During the year, the company introduced its new brand, CelcomDigi, along with a new logo which he said symbolises dynamism, energy and customer-centric approach.

CelcomDigi conducted more than 50 marketing campaigns and enhanced customer service by keeping Digi stores and Celcom Blue Cube outlets open every day throughout the year.

“So across the board, Hari Raya or Chinese New Year or Deepavali, we are open 365 days a year,” he added.

Mohamad Idham said the company aimed to upgrade 18,000 sites within its network. This involved consolidating 12,000 sites from Digi and 12,000 sites from Celcom into a unified network totalling 18,000 sites.

“We have completed 35% of that. So we modernised about 5,600 sites over the past 12 months. It’s ahead of schedule. We targeted about 30%, we have hit about 35% of the network integration,” he said.

At the same time, Mohamad Idham also focused on its people, which became the foundation of what was needed to carry out the integration.

“We identified the top 100 of the management team even before day one itself (Dec 1, 2022). And the top 300 leaders in the company within the first 100 days. And that set the foundation for us to execute the process of these two companies becoming a single company,” he said.

Mohamad Idham, in his own words, “harmonised” and “integrated” Celcom and Digi sales teams, but acknowledged the challenge of merging previously competing teams.

“One of the things that I thought was the most difficult area. Because these were the teams that every single day they were punching each other. Then we were telling them to sit next to each other and go to the market together. So we addressed it up and early. And now we are one company with (one) CelcomDigi culture,” he said.

Mohamad Idham has extensive experience in the telecoms industry. Prior to being appointed the CEO following the merger, he was the CEO and executive director of Celcom with over 30 years of experience in the telecoms and the IT industries.

Before joining Celcom, he was the group chief corporate officer of Axiata Group and has held various senior management positions in companies including Maxis and Packet One Networks in Malaysia and PT Natrindo Telepon Seluler (Axis) in Indonesia.

MIDF Research said it is bullish on CelcomDigi’s growth trajectory following the full-year results announcement.

The firm maintains a “buy” recommendation on CelcomDigi with a slight revision in target price to RM4.95 from RM4.94.

“Moving forward, we anticipate there should be no let-up in the group’s future performance with upside potential emanating from the merger synergies as well as steady growth in service revenue,” the research firm said.

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