MRT Corp’s Haris Fadzilah is new FGV CEO?

By ALIFAH ZAINUDDIN / Pic By BERNAMA

Speculation on who will helm FGV Holdings Bhd intensified as Mass Rapid Transit Corp Sdn Bhd (MRT Corp) commercial and land management director Datuk Haris Fadzilah Hassan (picture) is widely expected to fill the hot seat at the listed planter.

The government-linked company (GLC), which has a gargantuan task of correcting its accumulated financial and operational mess over the last few years, has been searching for a new head in the last four months.

According to sources, the search ended earlier this week and Haris Fadzilah has been selected by the company.

The appointment is said to have also been endorsed by Economic Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali, who oversees the Federal Land Development Authority (Felda), one of the major stakeholders in the listed company, a source told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR).

TMR had reported on Tuesday that FGV could name the new CEO as early as this week and the candidate will be from outside.

TMR’s report speculated that the front-running candidate could be a former staff of MRT Corp or Sime Darby Bhd, given the string of top personnel from the two companies who had been recently recruited to join FGV.

In a compelling letter to the shareholders published on the stock exchange on Monday, FGV chairman Datuk Wira Azhar Abdul Hamid said the appointment of a new CEO will be made in the “next few days”. The appointment, he said would allow the company to correct its operational and financial debacle. Azhar has been carrying the mantle of interim CEO.

Haris Fadzilah succeeds Datuk Zakaria Arshad, who resigned in September last year.

The former’s appointment comes two weeks after the plantation giant announced the appointment of Datuk Mohd Hairul Abdul Hamid as its CFO on Jan 2. Mohd Hairul was MRT Corp’s former CFO.

A graduate of University of Miami, Haris Fadzilah’s career has revolved around several key industries including oil and gas, automotive and plantation. His 28-year corporate experience extends to Petroliam Nasional Bhd, Perusahan Otomobil Nasional Sdn Bhd, Sime Darby and MRT Corp.

The new CEO, however, faces a herculean task to turn around the giant planter that posted almost RM850 million losses for the July through September 2018 period.

FGV is also embroiled in what is expected to be lengthy and complicated civil proceedings filed against former directors and management staff to recover millions from alleged questionable deals.

Azhar had said the new management will implement the transformation plan that the board had worked on and will have the task of turning the company around.

With a professional team in place, Azhar said FGV will be able to make changes, execute hard decisions to cut waste and “sweating” its assets as they ought to be. This process will span over the next two to three months, Azhar added.

FGV was once Asia’s largest initial public offering in 2012. Its share price has since plummeted to a record low of 63 sen in the last 52 weeks, a far cry from the excitement of its RM4.55 debut. FGV closed at 95 sen yesterday.