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Wahid To Be Executive Chairman Of PNB?

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PETALING JAYA: Former minister and banker Tan Sri Wahid Omar is expected to head the national unit trust company Permodalan Nasional Bhd (PNB) in a move that could precede changes at the helm of the organisation.

Sources said Wahid is expected to be appointed as executive chairman of PNB to help inject more vibrancy into the fund that serves primarily as a savings and investment arm for the bumputra community.

“Wahid’s entry is likely to see the departure of Tan Sri Ahmad Sarji Abdul Hamid and Tan Sri Hamad Kama Piah Che Othman from PNB.

“PNB has not had an executive chairman and the appointment would be breaking new ground,“ a source said.

Ahmad Sarji is currently the non-executive chairman of PNB, a position he has held since 1996 while Hamad Kama Piah is the president and group chief executive officer (CEO) since 1998. Ahmad Sarji is 77 years old while Hamad Kama Piah is 65.

Ahmad Sarji is only the second person to hold the post of PNB chairman.

Previously there have been reports of changes in PNB because both Ahmad Sarji and Hamad Kama Piah have been there for a long time.

However, the candidates mentioned have always been internal names.

Assuming Wahid is appointed, he would be the first outsider to assume a high ranking executive position in PNB. He is an accountant by training and was Malayan Banking Bhd (Maybank) president and CEO from 2008 to 2013. Wahid’s Maybank tenure came at a challennging time given the headwinds buffeting the economy from the global financial crisis. He has been credited with ensuring the sustainability of the financial services group’s growth, the country’s largest with a presence in all of Asean.

Wahid, who was formerly chief financial officer of Telekom Malaysia Bhd (TM), was made CEO from 2004 to 2008, a period marked by the government-linked company transformation programme.

He oversaw the reorganisation of TM where Axiata Group Bhd, which housed TM’s international businesses, was spun off and listed. TM was eventually transformed into a high-speed broadband operator from a traditional telecommunications firm.

Sources said PNB also needed to see changes to beef up its portfolio of investments to generate higher dividends.

Wahid, with his wealth of experience in the corporate world, also had a spell as the managing director/CEO of the troubled UEM group following its takeover by sovereign wealth fund Khazanah Nasional Bhd. He managed to reduce the group’s debts and disposed of non-core assets.

At the moment PNB’s key companies are Malayan Banking Bhd and Sime Darby Bhd.

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