AIS chief expected to step down from position in July
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AIS chief expected to step down from position in July

Mr Somchai is expected to tender his resignation to AIS's board of directors.
Mr Somchai is expected to tender his resignation to AIS's board of directors.

Advanced Info Service (AIS) chief executive Somchai Lertsutiwong is expected to step down from his position next month, paving the way for the company to recruit his successor six months before the end of his term at the end of 2024.

According to a source close to Mr Somchai who requested anonymity, the AIS chief will soon tender his resignation to the company's board of directors.

The move follows Mr Somchai's recent appointment as new board chairman of the SET-listed PTT Oil and Retail Business (OR). Mr Somchai has already started sitting in on OR board meetings.

His contract at AIS originally expired in 2022, but the AIS board decided to extend his tenure for another two years. The extension allowed him to improve the company's service capacities and operations as it transforms to a "cognitive technology company" by the end of 2024.

The source said Mr Somchai could remain chief executive until the end of this year, working as board chairman of OR simultaneously, with no specific prohibition in this regard.

"However, Mr Somchai realises this is the most appropriate time to step down from AIS and allow recruitment of his potential successor," said the source.

After the first meeting with OR's board, Mr Somchai understands his duties involve many matters related to the retail sector that require his concentration, the source added.

The source said Mr Somchai created a succession plan a year ago, preferring an executive inside AIS.

Mr Somchai declined to comment about his tenure at AIS.

A telecom industry observer who requested anonymity said the industry is watching with interest who will succeed Mr Somchai at AIS.

The two potential candidates inside the company are Pratthana Leelapanang, chief consumer business officer, and Tee Seeumpornroj, chief executive for broadband business.

The industry observer believes that besides Mr Pratthana and Mr Tee, the AIS board may propose another candidate who is from outside the telecom business.

Mr Somchai does not deny that his chairman position at OR would directly pave the way for AIS, OR and Krungthai Bank (KTB) to jointly develop a virtual bank business. Previously the three companies announced a partnership to develop a virtual bank.

Mr Somchai earlier said that each of the three partners holds unique strengths. For example, KTB has a reliable branding value proposition, successful track record, and expertise in financial services.

The strength of AIS lies in its digital technology, nationwide network coverage, innovation, and strong customer service. OR is a flagship of PTT Group with strengths in its retail network and consumer base.

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