SATS acting CEO named president, CEO

Tan Chuan Lye’s promotion takes effect from April 1 and comes after an eight-month global search

AFTER an eight-month global search, SATS Ltd has confirmed acting CEO Tan Chuan Lye as its president and CEO with effect from April 1.

In an announcement yesterday, SATS said it had decided to retain and promote Mr Tan ‘following a rigorous selection process involving a number of outstanding internal and external candidates for this role’.

Mr Tan took over as acting CEO and executive vice-president, food solutions, of SATS, following the sudden and unexplained departure of previous CEO and president, Clement Woon, in July last year.

Mr Woon, who came to the company in November 2007 after a 10-year stint in Switzerland with spatial surveying company Leica Geosystems AG, cited his decision to ‘pursue personal interests’ at the time.

Under Mr Woon’s stewardship, SATS broke away from its erstwhile parent Singapore Airlines (which owned 81 per cent of SATS) and created its own branding and identity. Instead of focusing only on the aviation business which was highly cyclical, it decided to diversify its business. In 2009, the company acquired Singapore Food Industries, a food manufacturer and supplier.

Mr Tan is himself a seasoned veteran of the aviation industry, and has been with SATS since 1976.

In a career spanning 35 years, he has held managerial and key decision-making positions in SIA Ground Services and SATS Airport Services, and was responsible for both SIA and SATS’ Changi Terminal 2 operations. He was appointed senior vice-president for catering in 2000 and was promoted to executive vice-president, food solutions, in 2009 to oversee and grow SATS’ aviation and non-aviation food businesses.

SATS chairman Edmund Cheng said the company was pleased to select Mr Tan to helm it.

‘Since he assumed the position of acting CEO in July 2011, Chuan Lye has demonstrated strong leadership capabilities and was ably supported by his management team and staff,’ he said. ‘Over the years, he has been closely involved in growing and transforming SATS to what it is today.’

SATS reported a 25.4 per cent drop in net profit to $38.2 million for the third quarter to end-December 2011 due to rising costs, falling contribution from joint ventures and associates, and a weaker US dollar.

For the nine months ended December 2011, SATS posted net profit of $120.8 million, down 14.1 per cent from $140.7 million a year earlier.

In October 2011, SATS announced the disposal of Daniels Group in the UK, recognising a loss on disposal of $5.5 million.

The company now faces a second competitor at Changi with the emergence of US-based Aircraft Service International Group, while the aviation sector is flying into turbulence due to high fuel costs and flattish yields.

Its Singapore International Cruise Terminal venture, where it has a 60 per cent stake in a partnership with Creuers Cruise Services holding the remaining share, is not expected to be profitable until the end of next year.

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