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Singtel's group CEO Chua Sock Koong to retire; Yuen Kuan Moon to take over

Singtel on Thursday said its group CEO Chua Sock Koong (right) will retire on Jan 1 next year and will be succeeded by Yuen Kuan Moon (left).

SINGAPORE Telecommunications' (Singtel) group chief executive officer (CEO) Chua Sock Koong is retiring after 31 years with the company. 

Ms Chua, 63, will retire as executive director and group CEO with effect from Jan 1, 2021, after holding the post since April 2007. Yuen Kuan Moon, who is CEO of Singtel's Singapore consumer business and the chief digital officer, will succeed her.

According to the telco, Mr Yuen’s appointment comes after a global search that considered both internal and external candidates. Board chairman Lee Theng Kiat told the press that “we threw up a total of nine names” and shortlisted two candidates.

“Our ultimate decision rests on the fact that Moon is a known entity,” Mr Lee added at a morning briefing. “Having gone through many, many years of working with Sock Koong and the rest of his colleagues, he has a good appreciation of what needs to be done.”

Mr Yuen, 53, joined Singtel in 1993. He previously held other leadership positions in the company including in areas such as marketing, business development and sales before his appointment as CEO of consumer Singapore in 2012. 

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He has been appointed group CEO-designate and will assume the role of group CEO upon Ms Chua’s retirement, Singtel said. 

Said Mr Yuen: “In the next few months, I look forward to meeting our key stakeholders: our major customers, community of businesses and partners, and the union. A key priority is definitely meeting all our business unit heads across all the various business groups.

“This will help formulate my strategy for taking Singtel into the next phase of development, which I will share with you at the earliest opportunity.”

Meanwhile, Ms Chua will stay on as senior adviser to the chairman to assist with the transition. The Business Times understands that there is no fixed end-date.

“With Singtel well positioned for the future, it’s a good time for me to retire, and I’m glad to be passing the baton to Moon, my long-time colleague,” said Ms Chua, who told the board last year of her intention to step down.

“As a key member of our management committee, Moon has been exposed to all areas of business and heavily involved in many key operational decisions.”

When asked who will fill Mr Yuen’s role as consumer head, Ms Chua said a search process is ongoing and “we hope to make an announcement on that shortly”.

Citi analyst Arthur Pineda said in a note that Mr Yuen’s appointment should be taken positively by investors, as “he offers wide operational and management experience”.

“Based on prior actions in the Singapore and Indonesia business, Mr Yuen has proven to be highly rational and internal business-focused. We note no material inorganic moves for these businesses he handled, with a bias for organic growth with network quality,” Mr Pineda added.

As at Oct 1, Ms Chua has a direct interest of nine million shares in the mainboard-listed company. She also has a deemed interest of three million shares, including about 28,000 shares held by her spouse, and some 2.9 million shares awarded to her from Singtel’s 2012 performance share plan. 

Separately, Mr Yuen has a direct interest of 1.2 million shares in Singtel as at Oct 1. He also has a deemed interest of 5.8 million shares, including about 6,400 shares held by his spouse, 4.1 million shares held by DBS Trustee and 1.7 million shares awarded to him according to Singtel’s 2012 performance share plan. 

The shares awarded to Ms Chua and Mr Yuen under Singtel’s performance share plan are subject to certain performance criteria being met and other terms and conditions. 

The counter was flat at S$2.12 at the opening bell on Thursday, after the news.

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