PETALING JAYA: Datuk Abdul Farid Alias, in his first day on the job as Malayan Banking Bhd (Maybank) head honcho, said he would focus on bringing the group to a higher level, particularly through mergers and acquisitions in the region to boost its income contribution from regional businesses.
Farid, 45, who had been Maybank’s deputy president and global banking business head since July 2010, said the approach was needed to meet its target of getting a 40% profit contribution from its overseas operations by 2015 from the current 30% level.
“It is a mathematical projection ... the number would not come up to 40% by 2015 as planned unless we make an acquisition,” he said.
Although the lender was open to enhancing its presence in any foreign market, Farid noted that Thailand was one of the “big and exciting markets”.
Despite its presence in Thailand via its stockbroking arm, Maybank’s commercial unit was still absent in that nation, he pointed out.
“We are looking for terms that suit us, from the perspectives of value and size,” he said, adding that it would also search for a right fit there.
He said it would continue to execute the strategic and transformation plans that were already in place to realise its aspirations of being a regional leader in financial services.
One of his immediate plans was to engage with his colleagues and exco members on the financial group’s growth.
Chairman Tan Sri Megat Zaharuddin Megat Mohd Nor, speaking at a briefing on Farid’s appointment, said that Farid was a suitable candidate as he fulfilled the criteria of having a strategic mindset to bring the lender to a higher level, the ability to engage with internal and external stakeholders, and the courage to take bold actions in a competitive business environment.
Farid was promoted as the new president and chief executive officer of Malaysia’s biggest bank effective yesterday. The position had been vacant due to his predecessor Datuk Seri Abdul Wahid Omar being seconded to the Prime Minister’s Department as a Senator and Minister in charge of the Economic Planning Unit two months ago.
Megat declined to describe the details of the selection process, but said that it was extensive and thorough, including having shortlisted a “sizeable number” of internal and external candidates.
The other candidates that had been bandied about prior to the decision included Bank Internasional Indonesia president Datuk Khairussaleh Ramli, Maybank Investment Bank CEO Tengku Datuk Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz, Bursa Malaysia Bhd CEO Datuk Tajuddin Atan and UEM Land Holdings Bhd CEO Datuk Izzaddin Idris.
Farid’s previous responsibilities would be taken over by Tengku Zafrul.
Conceding that Wahid had left a big shoe for him to fill, Farid said, “I have psyched myself up since the (selection) process started ... It’s a relief.”
He said he was informed of the news at 11am yesterday.
Congratulating his successor, Wahid said: “Farid is one of the key leaders in Maybank who has helped transform Maybank to become Malaysia’s most valuable company listed on Bursa Malaysia and a leading regional banking group.
“I know he has ‘very broad shoulders’ to take on the responsibility to take Maybank further forward. I wish Datuk Farid and his team all the best.”
Meanwhile, acting officer-in-charge Mohamed Rafique Merican Mohd Wahiduddin Merican said the announcement was timely and believes that the central bank and the board had made the decision based on the best criteria possible.
Farid started as a banker with Maybank’s subsidiary, Aseambankers, in 1992. He went on to accumulate experience with other banks and investment entities such as Schroders, Malaysia International Merchant Bankers, JP Morgan and Khazanah Nasional Bhd.
He has a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from Pennsylvania State University, University Park, the United States, and a Masters in Business Administration, Finance, from Denver University.