Sees future of data growth to come from the region
In preparation, hires ex-Maxis CFO to boost management team
BEHIND the wit and in-your-face humour of the irrepressible Afzal Abdul Rahim (pic, right), TIME dotCom Bhd chief executive officer, is a focused entrepreneur who knows that the future of his company lies not in Malaysia but in South-East Asia.
The theme of the company’s recent annual general meeting (AGM) and annual report for 2012 both echo this regional focus.
Hence his move to bring in a top level executive in the shape of ex-Maxis chief financial officer (CFO) Rossana Rashidi (pic, left) as his deputy CEO last October to keep the Malaysian operations strong, while Afzal focuses on the region.
And beyond that, there is the potential of Rossana becoming CEO after Afzal, though he makes it clear that will not be anytime soon. “You’re not getting rid of me,” he said at a press conference after TIME’s AGM.
“The challenge all businesses face when they expand outside their core markets is that they lose focus on the core operations,” said Afzal.
Hence the importance to him and his board in bringing in a seasoned professional manager who could manage the domestic business while Afzal and what he terms the “A-team” expand the business in the region.
The key markets they are looking at are Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Singapore. Sadly for Afzal, he revealed that the board did not share his enthusiasm for the potential of Fiji as a market – one suspects however that he was not totally serious here.
At its AGM, TIME announced it posted an operating profit of RM31.4 million in the first quarter ended March 31, an increase of RM10.2 million from the corresponding period a year ago. Revenue surged 64% to RM133 million from RM81.3 million in the previous corresponding quarter.
[RM1 = US$0.34]
Having spent 10 years at Maxis to rise up to CFO, Rossana is nothing but serious. She took two years off to be a full-time mother to her two young children. “After 25 years in the corporate scene, I wanted to take a break before coming back,” she said.
Rossana is fully charged for action. The fact that she chose TIME indicates the potential she sees in the company and her buying into the vision set by Afzal, and with a possible eventual transition to CEO.
“What’s important is for the management team to complement each other in running the company. The question of a transition [to CEO], if and when it happens, will be an evolution. Given Afzal’s commitment to the company, he will continue to play a role -- but I look forward to the day when he reports to me and takes instructions,” she added, quite seriously.
Afzal reiterated his belief in the long-term fundamentals of the business while declining to speculate on the question of how many more shares he will buy back. “I am taking an extremely long-term view of my investments in this company.”
By that he is referring to the injection of two fast-growing businesses into TIME: The Global Transit Group of Companies (GT) offering regional bandwidth services; and the AIMS Group of Companies (AIMS), a data centre that is carrier-neutral.
With these, TIME has moved beyond its core Malaysian fixed-line business. The company has also started calling itself an Asean-focused data and telecommunications solutions provider with three revenue engines: Fixed line, data centre and international sub-sea cable businesses.
The future is squarely in data though, with Afzal pointing out that 95% of its growth will be powered by data and data centre related revenues. Data revenue is increasingly powered by its 10% ownership in the Unity Cable System connecting Japan and the United States, which also has Google as a partner.
A future revenue generator will be the Asia-Pacific Gateway (APG), a 10,000 kilometre-long international fibre optic cable system linking Malaysia to Japan and South Korea, expected to be completed by the end of 2014.
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