PETALING JAYA: Tan Sri Abdul Wahid Omar, the group chairman of Permodalan Nasional Bhd (PNB), is taking on the role of activist investor, promising to engage public-listed companies as the country’s largest fund manager seeks to boost returns.
After completing his first year at the helm reorganising PNB’s strategic firms, Wahid has now set his sights on companies in which the fund has at least a 10% equity interest.
“As we move down the list of our strategic companies for value-enhancing activities, we will also start engaging with our core companies with a view to improving their total shareholder returns,” Wahid said in a statement yesterday.
“We also plan to work closely with other institutional investors for greater shareholder activism aimed at enhancing corporate governance and performance of public-listed companies,” Wahid added.
PNB, which manages more than RM265bil in assets through its various investment funds, has amassed substantial stakes in more than 30 major companies listed on Bursa Malaysia.
Wahid did not identify any of the core companies, but a quick check showed that PNB owns big stakes in large-capitalised companies such as Tenaga Nasional Bhd , Maxis Bhd , Telekom Malaysia Bhd and MMC Corp Bhd , as well as mid-caps like Fraser & Neave Holdings Bhd and MNRB Holdings Bhd .
Wahid joined PNB on Aug 1, 2016, replacing Tun Ahmad Sarji Abdul Hamid who had held the position since 1996.
Two months later, on Oct 1, 2016, president and chief executive officer Datuk Abdul Rahman Ahmad was brought in to succeed Tan Sri Hamad Kama Piah Che Othman.
Wahid said he was “grateful” for the support that he and his team had received from day one after taking over the helm at PNB. which he said had enabled them to “get cracking” immediately.
“The first year has been action-packed, productive and fulfilling,” he said.
Since their appointments, Wahid and Abdul Rahman have launched four major value-creating corporate exercises involving strategic companies under PNB.
This includes the plan to split Sime Darby Bhd into three listed entities, the demerger of UMW Holdings Bhd and the recapitalisation of UMW Oil and Gas Corp Bhd , the acquisition of Silk Highway and the merger of property developer S P Setia Bhd with sister company Island and Peninsular Group Sdn Bhd.
“The market reaction has been positive, with total market capitalisation of the six PNB strategic companies increasing by RM40bil since Aug 1, 2016 or RM29bil year-to-date,” Wahid said.
The quantum of increase in the market value of these companies, he said, had exceeded the performance of the FBM KLCI over the same period.