Singtel-Owned Optus Names Broadband Network Boss Stephen Rue New CEO

Optus names Stephen Rue, former leader at Australia's NBN, as CEO to boost service quality and rebuild customer trust.By Rajasik Mukherjee, Reuters
May 6, 2024

May 6 (Reuters) – Singapore Telecommunications-owned (STEL.SI), opens new tab Optus said on Monday it had appointed Stephen Rue to lead the Australian phone carrier replacing former boss Kelly Bayer Rosmarin, who resigned in November post a nation-wide network outage last year.

Rue has been running Australia's National Broadband Network (NBN) since 2018 and will now takeover as Optus CEO, as the firm seeks to reset its strategy and rebuild customer trust.

“An appointment of new CEO at Optus has been well-awaited by the market. Mr Rue does not seem to have a mobile business background but has a sound financial expertise in running Australian businesses,” DBS analyst Sachin Mittal said.

Rue has worked with government-owned NBN as its finance chief previously and had been at the helm of rolling out the firm's broadband network and expanding internet access to Australians.

Shares of Southeast Asia's largest telecom operator, Singtel, were up as much as 1.3% to S$2.41.

Optus has been one of Singtel's largest investments overseas though Australia's second-largest telecommunications group recently drew public ire after a 12-hour network blackout affected more than 10 million Australians.

Optus also faced a massive cyber attack in 2022 which led to millions of customers' personal data being exposed. Rosmarin's resignation as CEO in November came in post the cyber attack coupled with the recent network-outage.

“Hopefully he (Rue) can address low return on invested capital (ROIC) challenge at Optus,” Mittal said.

“Our view is that Singtel need to raise ROIC at Optus via higher efficiencies rather than pursuing an aggressive market share growth.”

Optus has been looking to expand its market share locally, with a recent deal with Australia's leading telecom firm TPG Telecom (TPG.AX), opens new tab to create a regional multi-operator core network.

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