SingPost group CEO Paul Coutts resigns 'to pursue other opportunities'

Mr Paul Coutts will remain as group CEO until Aug 31 or earlier to support a handover. BT PHOTO: YEN MENG JIIN

SINGAPORE (THE BUSINESS TIMES) - Singapore Post's group chief executive officer Paul Coutts has resigned after four years at the helm to "pursue other opportunities", announced the company in a late-night filing with the Singapore Exchange on Monday (May 31).

While his resignation as a director took place with immediate effect from Monday, he will remain as group CEO until Aug 31 this year or earlier to support a handover.

The group's board chairman Simon Israel will provide guidance to, and exercise oversight of, the senior management leadership team in the interim.

In its media statement, SingPost said its board and Mr Coutts, 64, had agreed that a leadership renewal transition would take place in the course of this year. A process has begun where the board is considering both internal and external candidates to replace Mr Coutts and "lead SingPost in its next phase of growth".

The group intends to announce the appointment of a new group CEO in due course.

Meanwhile, the group added that it "will continue to execute its strategic road map, and the board has confidence in the remaining leadership team to do so".

"When I joined, the board had tasked me to resolve legacy issues, reimagine the postal landscape in Singapore, reposition the group for profitable, accelerated growth in e-commerce logistics and, finally, build a new leadership team and put in place a succession plan," recounted Mr Coutts in the statement.

"Having delivered on those objectives and worked with the executive team in setting SingPost's strategic course for the next five years, I believe the time is right for someone new to lead the execution of that strategy and the next stage of SingPost's transformation journey. I leave the group in good hands and with a bright future ahead."

Mr Israel, noting that Mr Coutts "joined SingPost at a difficult time in the group's history" and dealt with a declining domestic mail business, an exit from the loss-making United States e-commerce business as well as Covid-19-related challenges, highlighted how a new management team has been put in place under Mr Coutt's tenure - along with a renewed focus on e-commerce logistics in Singapore and the region.

"We expect to see the benefit of this transformation in the years ahead and we wish Paul well," said Mr Israel.

With the announcement of Mr Coutt's resignation, SingPost said its group internal audit recently completed a review into indications of lapses in internal procedures and protocols which occurred last year during Mr Coutt's tenure.

The lapses came to the attention of the board in February this year and relate to the engagement of an adviser for certain Australian and New Zealand subsidiaries of the group, said SingPost.

From the latest review, its audit committee and board concluded that there was no dishonesty, fraud or criminal activity in connection with the engagement of the said adviser.

According to SingPost, no personal gain or benefit to Mr Coutts had been identified to the best of the board's knowledge, nor has there been any resulting financial loss or material impact caused to the group.

It added that the lapses identified were "neither systemic nor material" in the context of SingPost as a whole, and appropriate measures have been taken to address the non-compliances to mitigate against recurrence of similar incidents.

"The board understands that Mr Coutts is resigning to pursue other opportunities. No adverse inference in relation to Mr Coutts' resignation should be drawn from its proximity in time with the above," said SingPost.

SingPost shares closed Monday up by half a cent, or 0.7 per cent, at 72.5 cents, before the announcement was made.

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