Kathmandu, April 12
Malaysia-based telecom giant Axiata, the new owner of Ncell, has appointed Simon Perkins as the managing director of Nepal’s largest private cell phone service provider.
“Perkins was appointed by the board of Axiata as managing director of Ncell effective April 12,” one of the spokespersons of Axiata Group told The Himalayan Times via e-mail.
Perkins, a British citizen, who has worked in the telecommunications industry for over four decades, has been with Axiata Group since 2008. Initially, he worked as the CEO of Hello Axiata in Cambodia, where he successfully wrapped up the Group’s merger with Smart in 2013.
After handing over the merged unit to the new management of Smart Axiata, Perkins worked on Axiata’s bid for mobile network operating licence in Myanmar.
“More recently, Perkins has been leading the Group Marketing and Operations Division at Corporate Centre, establishing a strong Operations and Development Support, Marketing and International Business Operations Unit,” the spokesperson said.
Perkins, however, has not officially joined Ncell as its managing director, a reliable source told THT.
The management team of Ncell was previously led by Erim Taylanlar, who was appointed as CEO by TeliaSonera — the former owner of the Nepali telecom company.
It is not known whether Axiata has scrapped the position of CEO at Ncell after acquiring the company and replaced it with managing director.
The Axiata spokesperson only said: “Any change of title as we move forward will be (disclosed) by Ncell to the media as and when relevant.”
The latest change in the management structure of Ncell comes a day after Axiata acquired 80 per cent equity interest and controlling stake in Ncell for $1.365 billion (approximately Rs 145.40 billion). Axiata has entered Nepal with its local partner, Sunivera Capital Ventures, owned by Bhavana Singh Shrestha, which holds 20 per cent direct local shareholding in Ncell, as required by local law.
Earlier, the biggest chunk of Ncell shares — 60.4 per cent — was owned by TeliaSonera, a telecommunications service provider in the Nordic and Baltic countries, Eurasia and Spain.
Another 19.6 per cent stake in the company was under ownership of SEA Telecom Investments BV, a company owned by Kazakhstan-based Visor, and 20 per cent of the shares were owned by Niraj Shrestha, a Nepali citizen, who was chosen by TeliaSonera as its local partner.
TeliaSonera had sold its stake in Ncell for $1.03 billion, while shares of SEA Telecom were transferred to Axiata for $335 million.
Shrestha, on the other hand, had acquired a loan of $230 million from TeliaSonera in 2012 on the back of his 20 per cent stake in Ncell. Yesterday, TeliaSonera ‘dissolved its economic interests in 20 per cent local ownership in Ncell and received approximately $48 million from the deal’.
Earlier, Ncell acquisition deal had landed in controversy after one school of thought said capital gains tax rate of 25 per cent should be imposed on the transaction. The other school of thought was of the view that the deal was taking place abroad, and the Income Tax Act of Nepal does not have clear provisions on offshore deals.
A version of this article appears in print on April 13, 2016 of The Himalayan Times.