Who Are Asia’s True TMT Deal Leaders?

Who are the top 10 stand out deal leaders in Asia’s TMT space and what did they do to earn their spot? That’s a question we answered when we compiled the top 10 list of TMT leaders, part of our Asia's Top 50 TMT Dealmakers e-book.

Our top 10 players across the telecommunications space include business leaders from Axiata Group, Singtel, ST Telemedia, edotco Group, HKBN, Vodafone Idea, Protelindo, PCCW, Bharti Airtel and TPG Telecom Ltd.

These TMT leaders have been showing the way for best in class development and financing across Asia in 2018 and many of them will be sharing much of their fascinating insights at TMT Finance Asia 2019. Introducing our top 10 telecoms leaders in Asia:



Vivek Sood
Axiata Group

Vivek Sood is a seasoned executive with multi-layered experience. He joined Malaysia-headquartered telecom operator Axiata Group in 2017 as Group CFO, based in Kuala Lumpar, Malaysia. He has played the role of change agent through leading the transformation of a large telco, in becoming a Digital Service provider and developing new services over and above the connectivity layer. He gained diverse global knowledge through his responsibilities across Asian and European markets, leading teams from multiple cultures and backgrounds.

Axiata has been focusing on transforming itself from a holding entity with a portfolio of pure-play mobile assets into a triple core strategy driven business with the focus on digital telco, digital businesses and infrastructure. The group has been investing in new areas such as digital financial services, digital advertising, enterprise solutions/IoT and platform services, while also considering exits or mergers for some existing operations, such as Singaporean unit M1.

Sood joined Axiata from Telenor, where he led a number of multidisciplinary and multi-cultural teams as EVP and Group Chief Marketing Officer of Telenor, CEO of Grameenphone Bangladesh, CEO of Telenor India, CFO of Telenor India and COO and CFO of Tata AIA Life Insurance. He holds a Bachelor in Commerce and became a Qualified Chartered Accountant of India in 1989.



Arthur Lang
CEO International

Arthur Lang joined Singtel as CEO, International in April 2017. His main responsibilities with the Singaporean telecom operator are to oversee the growth of the Group’s regional associates across India, Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand, strengthen its relationship with overseas partners, and drive regional initiatives, such as the regional payments platform and gaming business, for scale and synergies.

Singtel provides a diverse range of services in fixed, mobile, data, internet, TV, ICT and digital solutions, under three main umbrellas: Consumer, Group Enterprise and Group Digital Life. As well as reshuffling and optimising current operations, such as the IPO of Indonesian Group Netlink Trust, and further investment into Airtel Africa, Singtel has been investing heavily into new areas such e-sports, e-payments, security and adtech via its Singtel Innov8 and Digital Life units.

Prior to joining Singtel, Lang was Group CFO of CapitaLand. Prior to that, he was Morgan Stanley’s co-head of Southeast Asia investment banking, and COO of the Asia Pacific investment banking division.

He is a board member of Globe Telecom, Bharti Infratel, NetLinkTrust, the Land Transport Authority of Singapore, the National Kidney Foundation and the Straits Times Pocket Money Fund. Lang holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and a Bachelor of Arts in Economics (magna cum laude) from Harvard University.



Stephen Miller
ST Telemedia

Stephen Miller is President & CEO of ST Telemedia (STT), a communications, media and technology investor, since 1 January 2017. In this role, he is responsible for the company’s strategic direction, leadership and continued growth. He joined STT in 2005 and has held various senior positions including President & COO, and CFO. Prior to his current position, he was Consultant to the Company for its portfolio companies.

STT has been actively involved in a number of recent M&A processes involving TMT assets in Asia. Its last notable transaction was the acquisition of Tata Communications’ India data centre business for around half a billion dollars and listing its invested Chinese datacentre portfolio GDS Holdings in the US. The firm also announced in 2018 that it would be building a new datacentre site in Thailand, and unveiled a new investment into Bespin Global, a cloud management company serving Korea and China, and strategic investment into VIRTUS, a hybrid colocation provider.

Miller played a crucial role in enhancing STT’s business competitivenessand asset portfolio while simultaneously maintaining prudent financial management. Prior to STT, Miller spent over 14 years with Credit Suisse, primarily heading its telecommunications and media group throughout Asia and the Pacific. Stephen holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Commerce, with First Class Honours in Economics and Finance, from the University of New South Wales, Australia.



Suresh Sidhu
Chief Executive Officer
edotco Group

Suresh Sidhu is CEO of Malaysia-based telecommunications infrastructure company, edotco Group. Since its formation, Sidhu has led the company’s growth as the first regional and integrated telecommunications infrastructure services company in Asia, with a regional portfolio that includes over 26,000 towers across core markets of Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Pakistan and Myanmar.

Founded in 2012 after spinning out from Axiata Group, edotco Group has been growing at an impressive pace, both organically and via M&A. It has acquired sites in Malaysia, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Myanmar, and has raised significant amounts of capital to build out new networks in key markets, with plans to go for an IPO also on the horizon. edotco has also been investing into piloting new technology, such as small cell, and advancing the capabilities of their connectivity offerings and solutions via new partnership agreements with companies such as Huawei and Sumitomo Corporation.

Sidhu first joined Axiata Group in 2009. Prior to joining Axiata, Suresh served as Chief Corporate and Operations Officer of Celcom since 2012. Leading up to his appointment at Celcom, Suresh was Group Chief Officer – Enterprise and Global at Dialog. Prior to this, he has held many senior roles in strategy, international wholesale, and merger and acquisitions at Maxis Communications. Suresh also spent over seven years with the Boston Consulting Group in strategy consulting in South East Asia and North America.



Ni Quiaque (NiQ) LAI

NiQ Lai joined HKBN (Hong Kong Broadband Network), a Hong Kongbased telecommunication company, in 2004 and has rich experience in the telecommunications, research and finance industries. As a Co-Owner of HKBN, he was appointed as CFO in 2006, Chief Talent & Financial Officer in 2016 and Group COO in 2017. He took the helm as CEO in September 2018, leading a team of around 3,000.

HKBN struck one of Asia’s most significant and notable M&A deals in 2018, acquiring Hong Kong telecom services provider Wharf T&T at an enterprise valuation of HK$10.5bn (US$1.3bn) from TPG and MBK. The companies say the merger will enable higher quality network and fuller suite of products and services and increased scale. HKBN also this year acquired cloud-powered solutions provider, I Consulting Group. In 2016 the company snapped up New World Telephone Holdings. HKBN claims to be Hong Kong’s largest provider of residential high-speed fibre broadband services, and also boasts a rapidly growing enterprise solutions division.

Prior to joining HKBN, Lai was an analyst and the Director and Head of Asia Telecom Research for Credit Suisse, where he was involved in numerous global fund raising initiatives for Asian telecom carriers. He holds a Bachelor of Commerce Degree from the University of Western Australia, and an Executive Master of Business Administration Degree from Kellogg-HKUST, Hong Kong.



Balesh Sharma
Vodafone Idea

Balesh Sharma was announced as CEO of the newly merged Vodafone-Idea group in India in 2018. He is a Vodafone veteran, most recently as COO of Vodafone India since 2017. His new role sees him take the reigns at India’s new market leader with around 408 million active subscribers and a 32.2% revenue market share.

Vodafone India and Idea struck a long-awaited and historic US$23bn merger in 2018 to combine operations and become the largest MNO in India, surpassing market leader Bharti Airtel, and able to better compete with the entry of market newcomer, Reliance Jio. Upon taking the position of CEO of the new entity, Sharma highlighted the company’s plan to offer innovative offerings powered by newer, smarter technologies to bring a digital revolution to its subscribers,\ via its suite of voice, data, mobile payments, IoT & enterprise offerings.

Sharma joined Vodafone in 2003 (then Hutchison, India), and has since held roles as COO of Gujarat Circle India, CEO of Vodafone Malta, CEO of Vodafone Czech Rep, and most recently COO of Vodafone India. Before joining the telecom business, Sharma had worked as a sales professional Xerox and Ricoh. He is an alumnus of Mayo College and completed his engineering and MBA from the Rajasthan University.



Steve Weiss

Steve Weiss has been CFO and Vice President Director of owner and operator of towers for wireless operators in Indonesia for Sarana Menara Nusantara (Protelindo) since 2015. Protelindo owns and operates over 15,000 towers in Indonesia.

Protelindo struck a significant deal in 2018 to acquire Indonesian towerco rival KIN for around US$100m, to further boost its position in the market, which has been long-tipped to consolidate. Protelindo also acquired Indonesian towers and fibre business iForte in 2016. Protelindo will now look to build its presence in fibre and other related services such as satellite via the iForte division to further build scale as one of Indonesia’s leading integrated TMT infrastructure provides.

Prior to joining Protelindo, Weiss was head of the TMT and Renewable Energy Sector for RBS in Asia. He also worked for First Interstate Bank, Standard Chartered Bank, and ABN Amro Bank. He was also with Indosat in Indonesia and Tele2 in Sweden in corporate roles. Before that, Weiss was a Foreign Service Officer with the US Department of State serving in Turkey and Egypt. He has a Bachelors of Science Degree in Economics from Stanford University and MBA from the Anderson School of Management at University of California, Los Angeles.



Srinivas Bangalore
Executive Director & Group Managing Director

Srinivas Bangalore Gangaiah (BG Srinivas) is an Executive Director and Group Managing Director of PCCW – a global company headquartered in Hong Kong which holds interests in telecommunications, media, IT solutions, property development and investment. Srinivas’ main focus is to ensure PCCW Group maintains its leadership position in all its portfolio of business in Hong Kong while crafting strategies to expand each line of business.

PCCW has three main businesses within its TMT portfolio: residential fixed-line, broadband and mobile unit, HKT; media unit PCCW Media and enterprise services business, PCCW Global. The company has been significantly investing in both parts of the business, through partnerships, acquisitions and organic investment. PCCW Global covers 3,000 cities and 150 countries, including core Ethernet, IP, fiber and satellite transmission solutions, while also increasing provision of OTT Video and Unified Comms services. Its OTT business recently raised capital from Hony Capital, Foxconn Ventures and Temasek. HKT offers quadruple-play services in Hong Kong, delivering media content on its fixed-line, broadband Internet access and mobile platforms.

Prior to joining PCCW, Srinivas had worked for the previous 15 years with Infosys Group, where his last role was the President and Wholetime Director of Infosys Limited. Prior to that, he worked for 14 years with Asea Brown Boveri Group, where he held several leadership positions. Srinivas holds a degree in mechanical engineering from Bangalore University, India, and has participated in executive programs at Wharton Business School, US, and Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad (IIMA), India.



Gopal Vittal
Bharti Airtel

Gopal Vittal is the Managing Director and CEO (India and South Asia) of Bharti Airtel. In his role as the CEO, he is responsible for defining and delivering the business strategy and providing overall leadership for Airtel’s India and South Asia operations.

Bharti Airtel has been especially active in relation to M&A, investment and partnerships over the past year or two. The company has been doubling down in core markets such as India – via its acquisition of Telenor India – plus investment into new 4G and 5G networks and spectrum via its ‘Project Leap’ initiative. It is also planning an IPO of its Airtel Africa unit, plus a merger of Bharti Infratel with Indus. Done deals include a merger of Airtel Bangladesh with Robi Axiata, and the acquisition of Tigo Rwanda.

He moves into this role from Bharti Enterprises where he was the Group Director - Special Projects to 2013. In this capacity, he worked towards formulating and supporting Airtel’s International strategy and data expansion. Prior to this he was at Hindustan Unilever, heading up the US$3.5bn Home and Personal Care Division. Gopal is an alumnus of Madras Christian College and has completed his MBA from IIM, Kolkata.



Iñaki Berroeta
TPG Telecom Limited (merged co of TPG-VHA)

Iñaki Berroeta joined Vodafone Hutchison Australia (VHA) as CEO in 2014, and will now take the reigns at the newly-merged combination of VHA and TPG Telecom, following a merger which values the new entity at around A$7.5bn enterprise valuation.

Following months of speculation, VHA and TPG struck a deal to merge their operations in 2018, which will allow the company to take the fight to larger Australian mobile and broadband rivals Telstra and Optus. VHA announced plans to invest more than A$1.3bn in its mobile network and technology development in 2018, with a focus on its continued evolution to 5G, including the expansion and evolution of its mobile network, final stages of its fibre transmission rollout, and spectrum licence payments.

A 20-year veteran of the telecommunications industry, Berroeta previously served as CEO of both Vodafone Romania and Vodafone Malta, and held various operational roles at Vodafone Spain, Global Star USA, AirTouch International Inc. (USA), Airtile Moviles (Spain) and Keon (Spain and USA). Berroeta holds a Master of Science in Telecommunications from Bilbao Superior School of Telecommunications Engineering, Spain, and a Master of Business Administration from Henley Management College, UK.



For more information on the deals they’ve made and their careers so far, download our free e-book, Asia's Top 50 TMT Dealmakers. The e-book will reveal more detail on these leading TMT figures, as well as lists of top 10 TMT financing bankers, TMT investors, TMT legal advisers and TMT dealmakers.



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