Nazir Razak joins PLS Plantations board

By AZALEA AZUAR / Pic TMR

FORMER CIMB Group Holdings Bhd chairman Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazir Abdul Razak (picture) has taken on the role as a board member of PLS Plantations Bhd, two years after he stepped down from the top post at the country’s second-largest bank by assets.

PLS Plantations announced Nazir’s appointment as non-executive independent chairman in a Bursa Malaysia filing yesterday, alongside the appointment of CIMB senior ex-banker Tan Hong Kheng as independent non-ED effective on Feb 10, 2021.

The director slots were left vacant after two of the company’s board members, namely senior independent non-ED Hisham Mahmood and non-independent non-ED Datuk Lim Kang Poh, resigned last month.

The company’s current chairman Tan Sri Lim Kang Hoo will be redesignated as executive vice-chairman of PLS Plantations. Kang Hoo is also the group executive chairman of Ekovest Bhd, which owns a 73.08% stake in PLS Plantations.

Nazir joins the board after PLS Plantations placed out 19 million new shares to him in a private placement exercise earlier in January. The new shares were issued at 95 sen apiece.

The private placement, which included share placements to other independent third-party investors, was to raise funds to partially repay the group’s bank borrowings which stood at RM121.48 million as at Dec 31, 2020.

Nazir currently serves as Ikhlas Capital Singapore Pte Ltd’s chairman and founding partner, an Asean private equity firm based in Singapore. He retired from CIMB in October 2018 after working for 29 years with the Asean banking group.

“I look forward to providing my guidance and insights at a time when PLS Plantations is moving to expand its durian plantation and downstream businesses, and diversify into other agri-food areas.

“In order to strengthen my alignment with the future of PLS Plantations, in addition to taking up a recent share placement by the company, I have also acquired an option to purchase existing warrants in PLS Plantations that, when exercised, will allow me to increase my shareholding in PLS Plantations from 4.75% currently to 9.9% based on its current share capital,” Nazir said.

PLS Plantations’ share price ended two sen or 1.79% lower yesterday at RM1.10, valuing the company at RM431.42 million.

Separately, Ho Wah Genting Bhd also announced the appointment of Datuk James Lim Cheng Poh as its advisor, effective Feb 5.

In a recent filing to Bursa Malaysia, the company said Lim would be providing investment management and advisory services to the group’s board of directors.

Cheng Poh previously served as MD of Hong Leong Financial Group Bhd (formerly known as Hong Leong Credit Bhd) in 1983 and was later appointed as Hong Leong Bank Bhd senior group MD in 1994.

Being in Hong Leong’s leadership role, he managed to grow the group from an asset base of RM3 billion in 1994 to RM45 billion with a pretax profit of over RM800 million for the financial year ended June 30, 2003, as well as leading the banking group to noteworthy performance in the local banking industry.

He was also AmBank (M) Bhd MD and CEO, and later served as business banking MD after the merger of the business operations of AmBank and AmFinance Bhd (renamed as AmBank (M) Bhd) in 2005.

His latest position was being part of LYC Healthcare Bhd’s board, which he served from 2016 to 2020.

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