Below are excerpts of StarBizWeek’s interview with PNB group chairman Tan Sri Abdul Wahid Omar.
PNB is one of the unique fund-investment companies where you have fixed price redemption – everybody is wondering how you do this.
It is a very basic model in the sense that in the good years, we don’t distribute all the gains and we build up reserves.
This is the reason why we can still pay dividends during tough times.
For example, in the last three years, it has been tough for the stock market. Last year, it was minus 3% for the FBM KLCI, but we were still able to pay dividends because we have reserves.
Have you given your companies their targets?
They have their KPIs set by their respective boards. We don’t set their KPIs.
As far as we are concerned, we will like all our companies to deliver their total shareholder returns that can come from both dividends and share price appreciation.
Has PNB directly put money into fintech?
No, because we don’t know enough and we need to learn a lot more before we are brave enough to invest in those areas. Of course, it is something that we can’t ignore. We need to learn and decide.
Yes, the potential upside is there, but then there is also the potential downside.
Do you think our property sector will go through a fire-sale situation?
I think if you look at public property companies, if you are not highly leveraged, then you will have the (holding) power.
At the end of the day, it is the ability to come up with the products that people want.
I think this is where property developers need to be more discerning and really find out what is it that the market wants rather than just churning out products that are generic.
What are your thoughts on being appointed as chairman of Sime Darby Property?
This wasn’t part of the original plan, but there was a request from the Sime Darby board.
I would like to look at it objectively and constructively. Sime Darby Property has an 18,000-acre landbank at strategic prime locations.
This is a dream landbank for any property developer because the potential is immense.
We just need to focus on what can be done.
Will there be any arbitrage when it comes to the share prices of Maybank and Maybank-i?
The share prices will be subjected to the supply and demand and determined by market forces.
Just like in the past, we had Public Bank Bhd, foreign and local shares where whenever there was a greater demand for Public Bank foreign, it traded at a premium to the local shares.
Likewise, in the event that there is more demand for the i-shares, it will not be impossible that these may be traded higher than the conventional shares.
Would you like to see PNB create one mega-financial entity that is purely Islamic to fulfil Bank Negara’s aspirations?
Again, we are very supportive of all the efforts to promote Islamic financial services, Islamic banking and Islamic capital markets. So, we will do what we can in terms of creating more instruments. We are very supportive of Bank Negara’s efforts.