Hong Kong mobile network operator SmarTone looks to ‘next stage of growth’ with new CEO

PUBLISHED : Monday, 23 May, 2016, 6:43pm
UPDATED : Monday, 23 May, 2016, 7:32pm

SmarTone Telecommunications, the city’s No 3 wireless network operator, has recruited MasterCard Hong Kong and Macau head Anna Yip to serve as the company’s new chief executive to help reinvigorate its operations.

The appointment of 46-year-old Yip, a Hong Kong native, has come more than a year after the resignation of Douglas Li , who had been SmarTone’s chief executive since 2001 after rejoining the company.

In a filing with the Hong Kong stock exchange on Monday, SmarTone said Yip will officially take the helm of the company from June 16, replacing Stephen Chau Kam-kun who took on the role of interim chief executive on September 1 last year.

Chau will remain as an executive director and the chief technology officer at SmarTone, according to the company.

“As differentiated service and product offerings become increasingly important in the mobile telecoms industry, the board believes that Ms Yip will provide the leadership required to take SmarTone to the next stage of growth,” the company’s filing said.

Yip, a graduate of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, joined MasterCard in 2013 as head of Greater China at the New York-listed financial services company’s professional services arm, MasterCard Advisors.

She was appointed the following year as head of MasterCard’s Hong Kong and Macau operations, responsible for developing strategy and forging business alliances in the two cities.

Prior to joining MasterCard, Yip served as the managing director for corporate planning and international strategy at United Overseas Bank in Singapore.

Yip, who has master’s and doctorate degrees from the University of Oxford, also worked for 12 years at global management consulting company McKinsey. She was a partner at the firm’s Greater China operation, where she founded and led the Asia retail and wholesale payments practise.

Her total annual pay package at SmarTone will be close to HK$10 million, the company said.

“The selection of a financial services industry veteran like Yip is not an unusual choice for SmarTone, which has looked for candidates from other industries with rich leadership experience to grow its business,” an industry source said.

Former SmarTone chief executive Li, for example, was an investment banker at Morgan Grenfell before he joined Sun Hung Kai Properties to manage its corporate finance and new business development initiatives. SmarTone, which was formed in 1992, is a subsidiary of the Hong Kong-traded property giant.

A report by Nomura estimated that SmarTone had a 13 per cent share of the mobile services market in Hong Kong.

“The overall competitive intensity in the market is relatively stable, and SmarTone could be a beneficiary if underlying prices improve,” the report said.

SmarTone’s share price opened at HK$12.46 in trading Monday, but ended the session down 1.77 per cent to HK$12.18.