Leadership changes at GLCs in full swing

Changes might be afoot at BNM soon that could see the return of a former top banker to the top job, pending the govt’s approval

by AZREEN HANI & NUR HANANI AZMAN / graphic by MZUKRI MOHAMAD

A MAJOR leadership reshuffle is underway at government-linked corporations (GLCs) with a slew of new appointments already announced and more expected.

The appointment of Datuk Amirul Feisal Wan Zahir as the new Khazanah Nasional Bhd MD, effective July 16 this year, has confirmed months-long speculations that Datuk Shahril Ridza Ridzuan’s contract at the government-linked investment company (GLIC) would not be extended.

Amirul Feisal’s appointment came as a surprise to observers, who had speculated that Shahril would be succeeded by Datuk Jeffri Salim Davidson.

Shahril was appointed to head Khazanah in August 2018 under the previous Pakatan Harapan (PH) administration. He is one of the last professional PH appointees to remain.

“The rumours have been going on for months, but Shahril remains unperturbed, only focusing on his task at the moment,” one source told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR).

In a statement yesterday, Khazanah said Shahril will pursue personal interests upon leaving the fund.

“The board of directors would like to welcome Amirul and is confident that with his expertise and experience, Khazanah will progress further in delivering on its mandate,” it said in a statement

Another source told TMR that there would be changes at Bank Negara Malaysia soon that could see the return of a former top banker to the top job, pending the government’s approval.

“But due to Covid-19, this could be put on hold,” the source said.

Meanwhile, business weekly The Edge had reported that Tan Sri Mohd Bakke Salleh will be replacing Tan Sri Ahmad Nizam Salleh as the chairman of Petroliam Nasional Bhd (Petronas).

Ahmad Nizam was appointed on Aug 1, 2018, and his three-year-contract is set to expire in August this year.

Additionally, FGV Holdings Bhd is finalising the appointment of its new group CEO (GCEO) and is expected to announce a name when the process is completed, according to FGV chairman Datuk Dzulkifli Abd Wahab in April.

The post had remained empty following the resignation of Datuk Haris Fadzillah Hassan. His duties have been borne by Azman Ahmad in the interim since May this year.

Azman will continue his current role as the group divisional director of logistics and support businesses sector, which he has held sinceJan1, 2017.

No timeline for the new appointment has been set.

Chairman Dzulfkifli also said that FGV will continue to work synergistically with Federal Land Development Authority or Felda as the company’s ultimate holding company in any decisions moving forward for the best interest of all stakeholders, including Felda settlers.

“We must acknowledge that the unprecedented Covid-19 outbreak has greatly affected the industry and FGV, as well as all other plantation players, have not been spared.

“The uncertainties and challenges faced by the industry throughout this pandemic have affected domestic and global demand, which have been further aggravated by disruption in upstream activities.”

The changes at the top of GLCs and GLICs are not expected to have a significant impact on investors’ confidence.

Asia Pacific Applied Economic Association (APAEA) VP Dr Baharom Abdul Hamid said a pattern and trend of placing preferred candidates helming GLICs or GLCs has now become a culture.

“Something that is accepted and expected by not only Malaysians, but also foreign investors. It’s not a question of whether it is right or wrong, but it is a culture, a way of doing things.

“Local and foreign investors already expected it with rational expectation, thus nothing much would be impacted,” he told TMR.

The corporate leadership in the country has seen a slew of changes this year. Permodalan Nasional Bhd (PNB) saw Tan Sri Dr Zeti Akhtar Aziz retiring from her position as group chairman on April 29.

The PNB announcement came on the heels of the appointment of Datuk Seri Amrin Awaluddin as Lembaga Tabung Haji’s new group MD and CEO effective May 6, replacing Datuk Nik Mohd Hasyudeen Yusoff.

Amrin has more than 30 years experience in the corporate sector, being previously the CEO of Lembaga Tabung Angkatan Tentera (LTAT).

APAEA’s Baharom said Zeti’s retirement was not a surprise, since the writings were already on the wall.

“In fact, she had stayed until her full retirement, that is indeed a small surprise. Zeti is a household name, not only regionally but globally.

“As for Nik Mohd Hasyudeen, he was appointed by the PH government. It was expected that Perikatan Nasional would have their own candidate,” he added.

Putra Business School Assoc Prof Dr Ahmed Razman Abdul Latiff said these leadership changes will have a minimal impact on investors as GLICs are managed by professionals.

“Any investment or business decision-making will be made by the BoDs and also will be based on the organisation’s strategic plan or blueprint,” he told TMR.

LTAT also appointed a new CEO Datuk Ahmad Nazim Abdul Rahman effective June 15, 2021, to replace Amrin, who stepped down on April 30, 2021. The former has 20 years of professional experience in the areas of corporate management, corporate finance and investment.