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Putting FGV on stronger footing

PUTRAJAYA: Tan Sri Sulaiman Mahbob, the new acting chairman of Felda Global Ventures Holdings Bhd (FGV), is tasked with putting the company on a stronger footing and take “a quantum leap” ahead in its governance.

Sulaiman, who already sits on the FGV board as a non-executive director, replaces Tan Sri Mohd Isa Abdul Samad, who will now oversee the Public Land Transport Commission.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, who announced both the appointments, said FGV would set up a board of inquiry to look into issues that led to the suspension of its group president and CEO Datuk Zakaria Arshad and three key executives.

Najib said he met Isa yesterday to discuss FGV’s future, adding that former Minister in the Prime Minis­ter’s Department Datuk Seri Idris Jala, who was assigned to look into the controversy, was also pre­sent.

“We also discussed his (Isa’s) future role. Following our discussion, Isa willingly let go of his chairmanship in FGV,” the Prime Minister told reporters after launching the PPA1M civil service housing project here.

He said both Sulaiman and Isa’s appointments took effect imme­diately.

In a separate statement, the Prime Minister’s Office noted that FGV should now identify the best corporate practices, policies and procedures within or outside the industry and adopt these.

“In this way, FGV will make a quantum leap in terms of improvement in corporate governance,” it said.

“The decline in the financial performance of FGV and Felda in the last few years warrants a comprehensive business review.

“Indeed, such a review has already started late last year. Both FGV and Felda should continue and complete this work with urgency.

“Once completed, it will put in place the right platform which will position both FGV and Felda to become successful companies now and in the future.

“This platform includes the right leadership, strategies, business and operating model,” it added.

Sulaiman, 67, served the Govern­ment for more than 38 years in various capacities, including as Eco­nomic Planning Unit director-general.

Asked why Sulaiman’s appointment was as acting chairman, the Prime Minister said the position needed to be filled urgently.

“To appoint a chairman will take some time as it will have to go through the board. We want to en­­sure that FGV’s operations remain uninterrupted,” he explained.

On June 6, Zakaria, FGV chief financial officer Ahmad Tifli Mohd Talha, FGV Trading CEO Ahmad Salman Omar and Delima Oil Products Sdn Bhd senior general manager Kamarzaman Abd Karim were told to go on indefinite leave of absence, which Isa said was a decision made by the company’s entire board.

The board’s decision came after Zakaria was told to resign by Isa following a series of board meetings concerning delayed payments owed to FGV subsidiary Delima Oil by Safitex Trading LLC, an Afghan company headquartered in Dubai.

Zakaria subsequently urged the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commis­sion to investigate allegations of improprieties in FGV and probe the parties behind a number of contracts.

On the board of inquiry, Najib said it was a normal process of good governance required of any public-listed company.

“Once the inquiry is concluded, I believe the board of directors will deliver the best and most fair decision,” he said.

On Zakaria’s future with FGV, Najib said it would be determined after the board of inquiry had arrived at its findings.

“I hope this restructuring will reflect the Government’s aspiration for FGV to be on a much firmer track in management,” he said. “We are confident the company has a promising future.”

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najib razak , FGV , chairman