In a sign that the PCCW / HKT integration has entered a new stage, CFO David Prince has announced he will return to his family in the UK, and be replaced by Frederick Ma.

PCCW's press release on the subject is typical of such press releases, although is striking in one respect. Ma is referred to as a "Hong Kong native", a fact that seems somewhat superfluous given PCCW's avowed intention to be an international company, as opposed to simply a parochial Hong Kong one. By the same token, Prince was the longserving CFO of Cable & Wireless HKT, which, for the record, was a "British" company, prior to being taken over by PCCW.

Prince was viewed as a steady pair of hands in what Richard Li transformed via LBO from a rather boring telco to a cyber company with a debtload of $4 billion. In the course of the past year, much of this debt has been extended via a series of bond and loan deals, and PCCW was able to report a net profit of $243 million (American, not Hong Kong dollars) for 2001.

Richard Li expressed "deep appreciation" for the "excellent work" done by Prince, while Ma, formerly CEO of JPMorgan's private banking arm, says he is excited by his new job, and by PCCW's "bright future".

Ma has been with PCCW since May 2001, and is likely to bring a greater business development perspective to the role.