Frankly Speaking: FGV’s woes can’t be all due to Zakaria

This article first appeared in The Edge Malaysia Weekly, on September 17, 2018 - September 23, 2018.
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Last week, FGV Holdings Bhd president and CEO Datuk Zakaria Arshad had his powers and authority suspended pending further notification by the board. This followed the Minister of Finance (Inc) withdrawing its nomination of Zakaria as a director of FGV.

FGV said the action was taken following the conclusion of internal investigations into 10 critical issues, but no details were given.

In the interim, a Special Board Committee, comprising four FGV directors — chairman Datuk Azhar Abdul Hamid, Datuk Salmiah Ahmad, Dr Mohamed Nazeeb P Alithambi and Datin Hoi Lai Ping — will perform the functions of the president and CEO.

While Zakaria has only been suspended and has yet to be charged, many are waiting to see if there are others who will be hauled up. Some of the questionable acquisitions before Zakaria’s appointment in April 2016 should be investigated as well, and the culprits charged.

Much of the woes at FGV are a result of mismanagement in the past, and not just in the last 2½ years under Zakaria’s watch.

For its six months ended June, FGV suffered a net loss of RM21.9 million from RM7.04 billion in revenue. Its problems, including ageing plantations and inefficient management, are nothing new.

Since its listing in 2012, FGV has lost about RM11 billion in market capitalisation. Its cash and bank balances of RM6.02 billion as at June 2012 has depleted to RM1.64 billion.

Surely, the problems can’t be Zakaria’s doing alone?

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