TAN SRI Abdul Wahid Omar has been appointed the new chairman of Permodalan Nasional Bhd (PNB), replacing Tun Ahmad Sarji Abdul Hamid.
In a statement, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said that the former cabinet minister’s appointment would take effect from Monday.
A chartered accountant by profession, Wahid had led Malayan Banking Bhd (Maybank), a company under PNB’s portfolio, after spearheading the transformation of Telekom Malaysia (TM).
He was also instrumental in the UEM Group recovery process.
During Wahid’s tenure as Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, he had supervised several government agencies such as the Economic Planning Unit (EPU), Unit Kerjasama Awam Swasta, Statistics Department, Ekuiti Nasional Bhd, Talent Corp Malaysia Bhd, Unit Peneraju Agenda Bumiputra, and Yayasan Pendidikan Peneraju Bumiputra.
Wahid was the president and CEO of Maybank from 2008 to 2013, and director of Amanah Capital Group from 1994 to 2001.
“PNB has achieved much success, including implementing the Government’s mandate to improve the economic status of the bumiputras and contribute to the nation.
“I hope Ahmad Sarji will continue sharing his experiences and contributing to the growth of the nation,” said Najib, who expressed his gratitude to Ahmad Sarji for his contributions to PNB for 19 years.
In a separate statement, Wahid expressed appreciation to the prime minister, board members of Pemegang Amanah Yayasan Pelaburan Bumiputra as well as PNB’s board of directors for their trust in him.
“I hope I will get continuous support in my new position and I promise to carry out my duty with honesty and trust,” said Wahid.
His appointment marks the first time an outsider from the civil service had been appointed to a high ranking executive position at PNB. The challenge set before him is to ensure that PNB, which relies heavily on the dividends from Sime Darby Bhd and Maybank, generate more income from its portfolio to pay its members.
Wahid’s track record had seen him helm some of the country’s biggest companies but the hallmark of his tenures at TM and Maybank was that he left both companies in a far better shape than when he first joined.
Although Wahid is not one that basks in thelimelight, those who have worked with him described him as being humble and respectful when representing the organisation he worked for.
He had been described as meticulous, sharp, financially-savvy and willing to listen and learn. One of the last major initiatives he undertook for the Government when heading the EPU was overseeing the high speed rail project.
Ahmad Sarji had been a key figure of corporate Malaysia for the past two decades.
Malaysians will fondly remember Ahmad Sarji as the face of PNB who declared yearly dividends and bonus payouts for Amanah Saham Nasional Bhd.
Ahmad Sarji was the longest serving chairman of PNB, holding the post since 1996.
He is only the second person to helm the PNB chairman position.
At 77, he has a serious demeanour and is knowledgeable when it comes to PNB-invested companies.
Under his chairmanship, PNB emerged as the biggest fund manager in the country.
As of April 2016, PNB has equity stakes in over 200 companies and is worth some RM268bil.
PNB started with a capital of RM200mil.
Apart from PNB, Ahmad Sarji is chairman of several public and private companies, including I&P Group Sdn Bhd, Petaling Group Sdn Bhd and Kontena Nasional Bhd.
He began his career in the Malayan Civil Service in 1961.
From 1979 until 1981, he was appointed deputy director-general of the EPU in the Prime Minister’s Department.
He was subsequently appointed as deputy chairman and director-general of Majlis Amanah Rakyat in 1981.
Ahmad Sarji was the deputy director-general of the Public Service Department for nearly five years, where he implemented the “Look East Policy”.
The former Ministry of Trade and Industry secretary-general, and Malaysian Industrial Development Authority, implemented the “Malaysia Incorporated policy” and accelerated foreign and local investments.
He had served as the ninth chief secretary to the Government from February 1990 to September 1996.
He is also a chancellor of UNIRAZAK, and a pro-chancellor of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia.
Ahmad Sarji is a member of the board of governors of the Asian Institute of Management, and the chairman of the Malaysian Commonwealth Studies Centre at the University of Cambridge.
He was awarded the prestigious Tun Seri Lanang Premier Award 2012 as the “Tokoh Buku Negara” by the National Book Development Foundation and the Oxford Centre for Excellence, UK, for his book, “Given in trust”.