Below are excerpts of StarBizWeek’s interview with AmBank group CEO Datuk Sulaiman Mohd Tahir:
In light of GE14, there have been fresh discussions on how former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak had 1MDB money transferred into his AmBank account. Is that episode really over for AmBank or have you or any key AmBank people been asked to assist in new investigations?
We were fully cooperative and we will continue to be with the relevant authorities.
We were forthright and transparent during the investigations and due to this, we paid a hefty fine.
Given that the investigations are on-going with regards to the 1MDB case, it would not be appropriate for me to comment further on this.
Nonetheless, we are committed to assist with any part of the investigations and will fully co-operate with the authorities.
What has been the progress of your transformation process?
In summary, revenue has grown, from 2% - 6%, year on year, prior to this there was a decline.
The 2018 financial year saw AmBank Group achieve significant progress.
We stepped up income growth to once again be on par with the market, while loans and deposits also grew as we continued to build momentum in our targeted segments and products.
As a testament to this growth trajectory in our key businesses, the Group maintained our underlying profitability for the year.
While reported net profit for the year dipped to RM1.1bil, this was due to one-off expenses related to the strengthening of the overall operational efficiency in order to create a more resilient AmBank for the long-term.
These initiatives, combined with expense-reduction measures which we undertook during the year, will benefit the Group in the coming year and beyond.
In just two years into our transformation programme, we are seeing encouraging underlying growth.
Our focus remains to strengthen our key business while building on our strong talent pool to enhance prospects.
We are bullish about the business and the sector as well as the prospects that Malaysia holds today.
If you look at our numbers we are seeing some very good results through our business units and we have confidence to sustain this momentum.
How close are you to achieving your Top 4 goals?
We kicked off our Top 4 strategy in March 2016, and since then we have been seeing positive results.
In line with our Top 4 strategy, we had outlined 33 distinct and executable initiatives to be implemented Groupwide by 2020.
The past two years have been about laying the groundwork, putting systems and people in place.
Key numbers have been met and we have a new team on board to drive initiatives in line with the plan across different business segments.
The ship is now on the right course.
The financial year ended 31 March 2018 marked the second year of our Top 4 Strategy.
When we look at our growth segments, we are on track with the strengthening of our performance in those segments.
In terms of business banking, we saw a 30% loans growth for FY18 while the retail SME segment grew by more than 100%.
A large portion of our growth is from the SME segment and we are positive this segment will continue to contribute to our progress.
Have you tweaked any of these goals downwards?
No, we have very ambitious numbers and they are stretched numbers.
We are staying on track and doing what needs to be done for us to build a sustainable bank.
We set up business banking which we did not have previously.
We are also diversifying our businesses to appeal to diverse target markets and we believe there is space for us to grow without being trapped in a saturated market segment.
Will you be raising capital soon?
No, we will not. At this juncture we are not planning to raise any equity capital. We however have plans to issue subordinated debts to replace some of our existing ones.
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