Another leadership change at Pharmaniaga?

Pharmaceutical firm expected to appoint someone from Boustead to replace Dr Hafsah


MALAYSIA’S largest pharmaceutical firm Pharmaniaga Bhd is speculated to see another leadership change soon.

The Malaysian Reserve (TMR) learned that its current chairman Datuk Dr Hafsah Hashim was recently asked to vacate her post before her contract is due.

Dr Hafsah was appointed chairman on July 17, 2019. Prior to joining the company, the 62-year-old was CEO of SME Corp Malaysia.

She is one of the few appointees under the Pakatan Harapan administration that remain in position after the government change last year.

According to sources, Pharmaniaga — which is controlled by the Armed Forces Fund Board (LTAT) — is expected to appoint someone from the fund’s shareholding company to replace Dr Hafsah.

One name that has cropped up is Datuk Seri Mohammed Shazalli Ramly, who was recently appointed MD for Boustead Holdings Bhd. His appointment on Nov 27, 2020, marked his return to the Malaysian corporate world after a hiatus since May 2018.

Sources said although leadership changes are normal, having it in the middle of the current Covid19 vaccination programme raises concern that it will affect the rollout as well as compromising corporate governance.

“Changes of leadership are normal. But to do it suddenly?” a source who spoke under the condition of anonymity said.

The source said appointing the head of a holding company as chairman of a subsidiary could undermine proper corporate governance practices.

TMR has reached out to LTAT and Pharmaniaga for comments, but no response at press time.

Pharmaniaga’s management underwent a change following Datuk Farshila Emran’s departure as MD in March last year.

Subsequently, the firm named former Felcra Bhd CEO Datuk Zulkarnain Md Eusope as MD on Sept 1, 2020.

For the third quarter ended Sept 30, 2020, Pharmaniaga’s net profit rose to RM1.44 million on better demand for protective equipment. However, revenue fell to RM624.8 million against RM716.85 million.

The company plays an important role in the nation’s vaccination programme having secured 14 million doses of Sinovac’s vaccine for its unit Pharmaniaga LifeScience Sdn Bhd (PLS) to conduct fill and finish manufacturing at its plant.

PLS received the first batch of the vaccine for process validation (PV) batch manufacturing on Saturday. The PV starts today and is expected to be completed within 12 days.

Read our previous report here

Arrival of Sinovac an important milestone for Pharmaniaga