Frankly Speaking: Congrats to Jalil, but why was Rahman not kept as CEO?

This article first appeared in The Edge Malaysia Weekly, on September 2, 2019 - September 08, 2019.
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Last week, news broke that the contract of Permodalan Nasional Bhd (PNB) group chief executive, Datuk Abdul Rahman Ahmad, would not be renewed upon its expiry on Sept 30. He had held the position since Oct 1, 2016.

Taking his place is Jalil Rasheed, who is currently the investment director for the Singapore office of UK-based fund manager Invesco.

Of course, the decision to allow Abdul Rahman’s contract to lapse is the prerogative of PNB and its shareholder Yayasan Pelaburan Bumiputera (YPB). YPB is chaired by the prime minister, whose statement that he was not told of the change of CEO is puzzling as PNB said that Jalil’s appointment was approved by YPB. Are we missing something here?

Having said that, there are other issues PNB should explain further, given that it manages RM301 billion in assets that are mostly the hard-earned savings of millions.

Among others, PNB is undergoing a six-year transformation programme that Abdul Rahman had helped draft and overseen until now.

The fund should clarify why the man who started the fund on the journey should not see it through, considering his track record and experience.

To be fair, Jalil appears to have the necessary qualifications and experience to take on the role. His appointment fits PNB’s strategic direction, according to the fund. “Previously based overseas, his appointment is in line with the government’s wish to make optimal use of Malaysian global talents and consistent with PNB’s strategic initiative to diversify its assets globally,” said PNB.

That said, Jalil will step into the role facing many challenges, such as the slowing growth of the economy as well as headwinds that have beset the markets.

 It would perhaps instil more confidence inPNB’s unitholders and the public if the fund elaborates on why it feels the changing of guard is necessary at this point.

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