AmBank rises after opposing Najib’s lawsuit

Its shares rises 0.78% to close at RM3.90, valuing the group at RM12b

By FARA AISYAH / Pic By MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

AMMB Holdings Bhd closed higher yesterday after it said it would “vigorously oppose” former Prime Minister (PM) Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak’s legal dispute against the banking group.

Shares of AMMB rose 0.78% to close at RM3.90 yesterday, valuing the group at RM11.76 billion after seeing 2.94 million shares traded during the day.

The counter rose as much as 1.3% earlier in the morning trading session yesterday, hitting an intraday high of RM3.93.

The increase was in line with the overall improvement of the FTSE Bursa Malaysia KLCI (FBM KLCI), Inter-Pacific Securities Sdn Bhd head of research Pong Teng Siew said.

“Large-cap stocks tend to benefit from the movement of the FBM KLCI,” he told The Malaysian Reserve.

On Monday, AMMB and its wholly-owned subsidiary, AmBank Islamic Bhd, were served with a writ and statement of claim by Najib, seeking damages in relation to the conduct of his current accounts opened with AmBank Islamic.

“Both AMMB and AmBank Islamic have appointed solicitors to defend the suit and have been advised by solicitors that the allegations are not sustainable and AmBank Islamic and the company have a strong defence.

“AMMB and AmBank Islamic will vigorously oppose the action,” the group noted in an exchange filing on Tuesday.

It was reported that Najib’s statement of claim said AmBank Islamic and its former relationship manager Joanna Yu breached their duties and were negligent in the affairs concerning the accounts, as they had disclosed information to fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho (Jho Low), whom the suit referred to as an unauthorised third party.

The statement of claim added that the bank and Yu acted on Jho Low’s instructions to actively ensure the account and other banking statements were kept away from the former PM.

It also said the bank and Yu failed to contact Najib directly to inform that Jho Low was seeking disclosure of information and documents.

The statement also accused the bank of failing to notify Najib, despite the accounts being overdrawn millions of ringgit for more than 30 times, as a result of cheques issued from the accounts and due to insufficient balances at the time, among others.

The benchmark FBM KLCI rose 0.09% to close at 1,563.19 yesterday, while the MSCI AC Asia Pacific Index declined 0.22%.

Fifteen shares rose on the key gauge, which measures the performance of Malaysia’s 30 largest listed firms, while 11 fell. Petronas Dagangan Bhd contributed the most to the index gain and had the largest move with a 3.56% increase.

Sime Darby Bhd was the biggest drag on the index and had the biggest drop, declining 1.71%.

For the quarter, the FBM KLCI fell 1.3%. It’s also down 7.5% for the year-to-date, setting the index on a course for its worst year in at least a decade.