More prudent approach for PNB under Zeti

By NG MIN SHEN / Pic By TMR

Former Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) governor Tan Sri Dr Zeti Akhtar Aziz is expected to take a more prudent approach following her appointment as group chairman of Permodalan Nasional Bhd (PNB), the country’s largest asset management firm.

Areca Capital Sdn Bhd CEO and ED Danny Wong Teck Meng said Zeti would likely have a broader, more macro-based view in steering the fund management company, given her previous experience as a central banker.

“She would likely take proactive moves and precautions, and avoid surprising the market.

“Any changes will be moderate, and if there are any transformations at the subsidiaries’ level, they should be smooth. If she practises the same style as she did at BNM, we could see more independent check and balance,” he told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR).

Zeti, who is also a member of the Council of Eminent Persons (CEP), said yesterday that she would continue her work with the council as there is still much work to be done as a CEP member.

PNB announced last Friday that Zeti would take office on July 1, following the retirement of her predecessor Tan Sri Abdul Wahid Omar with effect from June 30.

Zeti served as the governor of the central bank for 16 years from 2000 to 2016, and was also appointed as interim governor in 1998 during the Asian financial crisis.

An industry analyst noted that Abdul Wahid, who became PNB chairman in August 2016, had changed the working culture of the firm during his tenure.

“The previous leadership of PNB was comfortable, having been there for many years. Though the structure was working, whether it was optimal or not is a different question. When Abdul Wahid joined, he made PNB more efficient and productive,” the analyst told TMR.

Before PNB, Wahid held various posts in the corporate world such as president and CEO of Malayan Banking Bhd (Maybank), CFO and later CEO of Telekom Malaysia Bhd (TM) and MD of UEM Group Bhd. He also served as a Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of the Economic Planning Unit, from 2013 to 2016.

PNB’s investee companies include Maybank, Sime Darby Bhd, UMW Holdings Bhd, Chemical Co of Malaysia Bhd (CCM), SP Setia Bhd and MNRB Holdings Bhd.

Other core companies under PNB include Axiata Group Bhd, Digi.Com Bhd, Maxis Bhd, Tenaga Nasional Bhd, BIMB Holdings Bhd, CIMB Group Holdings Bhd, TM, MMC Corp Bhd, IJM Corp Bhd, Gamuda Bhd, Sapura Energy Bhd and Petroliam Nasional Bhd.

According to PNB’s 2017 annual report, the fund manager’s assets under management grew 4.8% year-on-year to RM279.2 billion last year, while return on assets was higher at 6.7% against 6% in 2016.

Shares of Maybank closed four sen, or 0.44% lower, at RM8.96 yesterday, while Sime Darby fell two sen, or 0.82%, to RM2.43 and SP Setia declined 11 sen, or 3.55%, to RM2.99.

However, this was likely a result of heavy selling among selected blue chips, with the benchmark FTSE Bursa Malaysia KLCI closing 6.45 points, or 0.38%, down at 1,685.05 yesterday.

UMW’s share price rose 23 sen, or 3.85%, to close at RM6.20, while MNRB and CCM closed unchanged at RM2.35 and RM2.12 respectively.