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Christoph Mueller appointed new CEO-designate for Malaysia Airlines

Khazanah Nasional, the majority shareholder and strategic investment fund of Malaysia Airlines (MAS), has appointed Christoph R. Mueller as the CEO-designate of MAS NewCo.

Mueller is presently the CEO of Ireland's national carrier, Aer Lingus. "NewCo" refers to Malaysia Airlines Berhad, incorporated last month to house the new national carrier, which is being taken private following two air disasters this year. It is targeted to be operational by July 2015.

Mueller's contract with Aer Lingus ends on May 1, 2015, but discussions are on place to get him on board earlier, sometime between March 1, 2015 to July 1, 2015 before NewCo takes off.

Khazanah has also completed rounding up the NewCo's board of directors, with the appointment of Dato’ Sri Mohammed Shazalli Ramly as non-executive director. The board will be led by Tan Sri Md Nor Yusof as non-executive chairman, with Ahmad Jauhari Yahya as managing director and group CEO.

"The appointments announced today are part of efforts by the government and Khazanah to lay strong foundations for the future success of our national carrier," said Malaysian Prime Minister, Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib Tun Abdul Razak, after chairing a meeting with the Khazanah board.

He also hinted at a possible local successor to the CEO position, in the time to come.

"It is imperative that we have the best available talent with the expertise and experience to help drive the progress of the restructuring effort further forward, lead the airline to profitability, and groom a Malaysian successor to assume the leadership of the airline in the future."

Managing director of Khazanah, Tan Sri Dato’ Azman Hj. Mokhtar, added: "The Khazanah board in its deliberations took into consideration the critical nature of the MAS restructuring, which requires absolutely the best aviation management expertise, and in particular, those with a strong track record of turning around national flag carriers. An extensive global search was undertaken that covered both international and local Malaysian talent."

"Christoph is the best candidate, and he has two equally important tasks: to lead the turnaround of our national carrier and to build local succession."

Leadership announcements have also been made for the Corporate Reskilling Centre (CRC), together with the Outplacement Centre, which are intended to provide reskilling, job creation, and redeployment opportunities for employees not migrating to MAS NewCo.

Tan Sri Bashir Ahmad Abdul Majid will be appointed as Chairman of the CRC. He is currently advisor at Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad and will remain so, in parallel with his role as CRC chairman.

En. Shahryn Azmi will be appointed CEO, and Dato’ Boonler Somchit as non-executive director and advisor, respectively. These appointments will be effective January 1, 2015.

Image: Shutterstock

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