KUALA LUMPUR: CIMB Group Holdings Bhd announced on Monday that its chairman, Datuk Seri Nazir Tun Razak, will step down from his post and all other positions within the group by Dec 31, 2018.
“The CIMB board of directors will now activate its succession plan to decide on the next chairman and the exact date of handover,” the bank said in a statement today.
Nazir, 51, has served CIMB for 29 years since 1989. The brother of former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak was CIMB’ CEO for 15 years and as group chairman since 2014.
His current term was supposed to end in August 2019.
Nazir, in the statement, said it would be appropriate for him to leave upon the completion of CIMB Target 18, the bank’s four-year recalibration plan launched in 2014.
“It was always going to be hard to find the perfect moment for me to leave CIMB – not too soon, not too late – but always with the firm’s best interest in mind,” Nazir said.
In the next few weeks Nazir’s priorities include the completion of T18, the finalisation of CIMB’s new strategic blueprint and the smooth handover of the chairmanship to his successor.
Speculation about his impending exit from CIMB had been swirling since his brother Najib lost the general election on May 9.
Khazanah Nasional Bhd, the major shareholder of CIMB, had seen its board of directors resigned en masse in July and Nazir was part of the exodus.
Nazir had previously said he would step aside if the board and shareholders of the financial services group and Bank Negara would like him to resign early.
Under his leadership, CIMB grew from a fledgling corporate finance franchise into a top Malaysian investment bank, and was later transformed into a universal bank in Asean.
Nazir said the bank is now “financially strong, organisationally robust and firmly institutionalised.”
His distinguished career in the banking business, however, was tainted by a scandal in April 2016 about political funding and alleged misuse of money after it was revealed that his brother Najib transferred a sum of about RM28mil (equivalent to US$7mil) into his account in the run-up to the 2013 general election (GE13).
The banker then went on a voluntary leave of absence from his role as CIMB chairman amid an independent review on the matter and criticism from many quarters.
Nazir returned to his role as chairman about a month later after the findings from the review concluded that he “did not misuse his position as group chief executive at the time nor was there any inappropriate use of the bank’s resources.”