PLDT, Inc. Chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan said the search for a new president and chief executive officer (CEO) may take longer.

Mr. Pangilinan, who has been sitting as president and CEO of PLDT since the start of 2016, told reporters Tuesday that he is ready to relinquish the two posts as soon as he finds a worthy replacement.

Siguro [Probably] delayed a bit, realistically. You have to give some time to Al to put both his legs under the table,” he said when asked about PLDT’s timeline for finding a new president and CEO, referring to newly appointed Chief Revenue Officer Alfredo S. Panlilio.

Last week, PLDT told the stock exchange Mr. Panlilio was returning to the company to replace Ernesto “Eric” A. Alberto as chief revenue officer by July 1.

Mr. Alberto assumed the position in 2016 and led the company’s turnaround in the consumer wireless business and sustained double-digit growth in the home and enterprise units.

But Mr. Pangilinan noted his departure is not expected to impact the company’s operations significantly, as the unit heads were kept in position.

“We know Eric Alberto has really strong unit heads. Ren (Oscar Enrico A. Reyes, Jr.) for the individual and the Home, Jovy (I. Hernandez) for the Enterprise and Alex (Alejandro O. Caeg) for sales and channels. Of course we’ll miss Eric, but I think Al — who is an alumnus of PLDT, knows the organization and is digital and understands what we’re doing. I think (he) will ably fill up the position, and I think will probably bring a calming influence on the organization,” he said.

Mr. Panlilio admitted the appointment was a surprise, saying it happened “very quickly.”

“There was of course something that happened in PLDT and the change that had to (happen), a major decision that (Mr. Pangilinan) had to make so that we can continue to go after the objectives set by (him) for PLDT,” Mr. Panlilio said.

Asked what were Mr. Pangilinan’s marching orders for him, Mr. Panlilio said: “To continue to grow the business. I think that’s the main thing.”

He said he personally wants to look into the service delivery of PLDT and see how it could be improved to be more “customer centric.”

Hastings Holdings, Inc. — a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc. — maintains interest in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group, which it controls. — Denise A. Valdez