Khazanah men tapped for PNB’s top posts?

Ex-Khazanah CEO Azman and current deputy MD Ahmad Zulqarnain said to be the frontrunners for the positions of chairman and CEO of PNB

by AZREEN HANI/ pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

FORMER Khazanah Nasional Bhd MD Tan Sri Azman Mokhtar (picture; left) and the sovereign wealth fund’s deputy MD Ahmad Zulqarnain Onn have been tapped to lead Permodalan Nasional Bhd (PNB), according to several sources.

The Malaysian Reserve (TMR) has learned that Azman, who left Khazanah in 2018, has been offered to succeed PNB chairman Tan Sri Dr Zeti Akhtar Aziz, whose tenure ends on July 1.

It is understood that the PNB board will meet soon to decide on the replacements for the chairman and the CEO posts.

“It is an open secret that the chairman was asked to leave her post earlier, but she (Zeti) is adamant of staying put until the end of her term,” a source who spoke under condition of anonymity told TMR recently.

“Azman is naturally the most suitable candidate to replace her. He is objective and can work with anyone, regardless who is at the helm (of the government),” another source said.

Azman served as Khazanah’s MD for 14 years before stepping down in August 2018.

He began his career in September 1983 at the then National Electricity Board (now known as Tenaga Nasional Bhd or TNB) until August 1994 before becoming the director and head of research at Union Bank of Switzerland from 1994 to 1998. He was also the co-founder and MD at BinaFikir Sdn Bhd from 2002 to May 2004.

It is learned that Zeti’s selection in appointing PNB’s ex-CEO Abdul Jalil Abdul Rasheed, together with his qualifications, were among the contentious issues that were brought up in the most recent board meeting.

Abdul Jalil, in announcing his resignation earlier this week, claimed of being harassed with hate calls from unknown numbers, as well as the hacking of his corporate email account and LinkedIn profile.

Abdul Jalil said the harassment was the last straw that led to his resignation on Monday.

“I have always believed that no individual is larger than an institution. I have no intention to drag PNB into this. PNB must be safeguarded at all costs. Hence I have chosen the difficult path, one that is lonely and devastating for my family and I,” Abdul Jalil said in a farewell note to his colleagues, sighted by TMR.

The sources told TMR that Ahmad Zulqarnain was offered the CEO’s post following Abdul Jalil’s resignation as PNB’s president and CEO on Monday.

“(Ahmad Zulqarnain) has extensive experience and has a good rapport within the industry,” a source told TMR. “It goes without saying that he also enjoys good relations with Azman.”

It is not known whether Azman and Ahmad Zulqarnain have accepted the offers.

According to The Edge, Ahmad Zulqarnain is one of two deputy MDs appointed by Azman in 2018. A Harvard University graduate, he was also previously the CEO of Danajamin Nasional Bhd.

Ahmad Zulqarnain has also held roles with UBS Warburg, Pengurusan Danaharta Nasional Bhd, CIMB Group Holdings Bhd and Symphony Group of Cos.