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Tuesday, July 31, 2018

AZMAN MOKHTAR SHIPS OUT, MAHATHIR MOVES IN: ‘KHAZANAH FORCED TO WRITE OFF CERTAIN INVESTMENTS ALMOST EVERY YEAR … THE AMOUNT WAS HUGE’ – AZMIN

KHAZANAH Nasional Berhad boss Azman Mokhtar ends his tenure today as the sovereign wealth fund awaits a new managing director following Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad taking over as yesterday.
The Malaysian Insight understands Azman chaired his last meeting as managing director yesterday after the Prime Minister’s Department announced the new board members for Malaysia’s main sovereign wealth fund with strategic interest across most sectors, including finance, health, telecommunications, aviation and utilities.
“Azman’s last day as Khazanah boss is July 31. He will meet the PM and provide the handover file,”   a source told The Malaysian Insight.
Azman and the entire Khazanah board sent undated resignation letters last week to their ultimate shareholder Ministry of Finance Inc (MoF Inc), which the PMO accepted, saying it was not a “witch hunt” but to “clear the decks” for the strategic investment company’s future direction.
The Malaysian Insight understands that the directors of the sovereign wealth fund met last Tuesday and resolved to submit the undated resignation letters, including that of Azman whose contract as managing director was due to end June 2019.
Apart from Dr Mahathir as chairman, the department said yesterday Economic Affairs Minister Azmin Ali will join the board as a director together with former Petronas chief Hassan Merican, former Bank Negara deputy governor Dr Sukhdave Singh and former Securities Commission executive director Goh Ching Yin.
The outgoing Khazanah board’s other members are Md Nor Md Yusof, Mohamed Azman Yahya, Mohammed Azlan Hashim, Raja Arshad Raja Uda, Andrew Sheng Len Tao, Nazir Abdul Razak, Nirmala Menon and Yeo Kar Peng.
By convention, the Khazanah board is chaired by the prime minister with the finance minister and the Treasury secretary-general as members.
But former prime minister Najib Razak, former finance minister II Johari Ghani and former Treasury secretary-general Irwan Serigar Abdullah resigned on May 31 after the Barisan Nasional (BN) government lost in the May 9 general election.
The Malaysian Insight reported on July 13 that Khazanah is to get a new boss in 14 years after Dr Mahathir’s remarks a week earlier that clearly suggested the sovereign wealth fund was to get a new direction with fresh leadership at the helm.
Azman indicated then he was prepared to go earlier than his contract expiry if given the marching orders from Putrajaya. But he never got to meet Dr Mahathir despite making efforts to get an appointment.
In recent weeks, heads of government-linked investment companies and funds have left or their contracts not renewed, including Permodalan Nasional Berhad chairman Abdul Wahid Omar, who resigned in June after failing to meet Dr Mahathir.
Dr Mahathir, who formed Khazanah in 1994 to hold shares in government firms, told local media that “they were no longer following the initial intention of the formation of Khazanah”.
The prime minister, who is in power for a second time after a break of 15 years, was blunt about Khazanah, saying the strategic investment arm “was doing all kinds of funny things, they are buying houses. they are creating and taking over companies”.
Dr Mahathir’s comment effectively raised question marks over Azman’s position as managing director, a post that he has held under two prime ministers.
In response, Khazanah had said in a statement that it was “seeking further clarification as necessary from the government and other respective parties… with a view towards clarifying, reaffirming and implementing our mandate as the strategic investment fun of the government of Malaysia”.
The Khazanah website states that it holds and manages the commercial assets owned by the government and undertakes strategic investments on behalf of the nation and has interests in more than 100 companies in a number of sectors from power and aviation to healthcare and financial services.
As of December 2017, Khazanah has a realisable asset value of RM157.2 billion while its net worth adjusted reached a record high of RM115.6 billion. –  – THE MALAYSIAN INSIGHT

Khazanah to revamp, return to original aims

KHAZANAH Nasional Berhad will be revamped to return the sovereign fund to its original aim of owning and guarding national assets on behalf of Malaysians, said Economic Affairs Minister Azmin Ali.
The revamp is among the first steps Khazanah will take under its new board unveiled yesterday, Azmin told reporters in Sg Kandis, Klang, later.
Khazanah’s role had changed under the former Barisan Nasional administration and it kept making bad investments, leading to losses every year, he said.
“Over the past few years, they diversified their investments and these did not give good returns. Almost every year, they are forced to write off certain investments.” Azmin did not specify how much Khazanah had to write-off but said the figure was “huge”.
He added that Khazanah’s return to its old role would also allow it to increase Bumiputera participation in the economy, whether through holding shares, property or other investments.
“Maybe the investment panel did not look at this seriously to the point where the investments that were approved resulted in big losses.
“So, this must be looked at again as we want an economic policy that is fair to all Malaysians.”  
In a statement released by the Prime Minister’s Department yesterday, Azmin was made director on Khazanah’s board together with Mohd Hassan Marican, Dr Sukhdave Singh and Goh Ching Yin. Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad was appointed as chairman.
The statement also said the firm’s new managing director will be appointed at a later date.
Azmin also refuted suggestions that his and Dr Mahathir’s appointments meant that the Pakatan Harapan government was going back on its promise to install only professionals to head government-linked companies (GLCs).
“It is true we don’t want politicians to hold important posts in government-linked companies and statutory bodies, but in this context, Dr Mahathir is there by virtue of being the prime minister.”
Whereas in his case, Azmin said, he was chosen as a director as he is economics minister who is responsible for planning the nation’s economy.
Khazanah’s remaining board members and its managing director will be professionals with a strong sense of integrity, he said. – THE MALAYSIAN INSIGHT
– THE MALAYSIAN INSIGHT

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