Money: 'Everyone I interview is a woman': TPG's Teoh promises gender focus - PressFrom - Australia
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Money'Everyone I interview is a woman': TPG's Teoh promises gender focus

14:06  06 december  2018
14:06  06 december  2018 Source:   msn.com

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'Everyone I interview is a woman': TPG's Teoh promises gender focus© Fairfax Media TPG Telecom executive chairman and CEO David Teoh says he is prioritising more female directors. TPG Telecom executive chairman David Teoh has promised shareholders he is prioritising 5G technology and the hiring of female directors for the company's new board, if a $15 billion merger with Vodafone Hutchison Australia is successful.

Activist shareholder groups, such as the Australian Shareholders Association (ASA), have hit out at companies for having too few women on their boards. In November, Vocus Group was criticised for having one woman on the board and was encouraged to hire more female directors.

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ASA representative Mary Curran raised concerns about the lack of gender diversity on TPG’s board in 2017, and attended the 2018 annual general meeting on Wednesday to raise the issue again.

Mr Teoh said he had “interviewed some candidates for the director post for the [merged company’s board] and everyone I interview is a woman”.

“So to answer your question, we put priority on that," he said.

A spokeswoman for Vodafone said in a statement “several potential candidates” for independent director positions had been contacted and gender diversity was a “priority”.

The merger between the two companies has yet to be approved by the competition regulator, however Mr Teoh said he has "a lot at stake" as part of the deal. He owns 34.4 per cent of shares.

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"I have all my shares in the company. So it’s in my interest to make sure we have a great [merged company] moving forward into the future," he said.

In particular, Mr Teoh supported the rollout of ultra-fast mobile networks known as '5G' saying it was "very important" and the combined business "has to focus" on the technology.

Many of the future functions of 5G technology are yet to be worked out, but potentially include driverless cars and mass internet of things applications, where many sensors and connected devices are linked up together.

On Wednesday, Telstra chief executive Andy Penn and his executive team fronted analysts at the company's investor day with a similar message. After demonstrating Australia's first commercial 5G to 5G video call, Mr Penn said the technology was a critical part of the network's fight-back strategy, Telstra 2022.

Mr Penn expects the new mobile technology to be "a new opportunity for growth" during difficult times for Australian telcos, facing increased competition in mobile and decreased margins on the National Broadband Network. He believes it will open up a "wide range of new market opportunities" as other technologies mature, such as cloud computing and artificial intelligence.

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"This unique convergence of technologies is what makes 5G far more revolutionary than earlier shifts in mobile technology," he said.

Telstra's share price increased 0.33 per cent to $3.02, while TPG's share price increased 0.68 per cent to $7.40.

The majority of shareholders voted in favour of the remuneration report and for the re-election of TPG board members Robert Millner and Shane Teoh, with 85 per cent and 87.9 per cent respectively supporting the directors, despite proxy firm ISS raising concerns about their independence and arguing Mr Millner has too many board roles.

Some shareholders were concerned about whether the merger with Vodafone would leave the business with accumulated losses on the balance sheet, which could affect future dividend payments.

TPG chief financial officer Stephen Banfield would not confirm whether the merged company would have accumulated losses or profits, saying the business would have strong profits, however a Vodafone spokeswoman later confirmed there would be an accumulated loss though noted "strong cash flow generation is expected to support an attractive dividend".

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