Nazir leaves CIMB after 29 years at Malaysia's 2nd largest bank

  • Corporate News
  • Tuesday, 25 Sep 2018

CIMB Group Holdings Bhd chairman Datuk Seri Nazir Razak, who was also part of the Khazanah exodus, said last month that he had not decided whether to extend his term with CIMB after it was reported that the search for his successor had started. However, Nazir, who is the brother of former premier Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak who was ousted from his position in the last general election, emphasised that he would step aside if the board and shareholders of the financial services group and Bank Negara would like him to resign early.

PETALING JAYA: It’s the end of an era for the country’s second-largest lender, CIMB Group, as its chairman Datuk Seri Nazir Razak, the face behind the group, will leave, effective Dec 31 this year.

The company announced his leaving via a statement, adding that he will also vacate all his other positions within the CIMB group of companies.

“The CIMB board of directors will now activate its succession plan to decide on the next chairman and the exact date of handover,” it said.

Nazir’s announcement confirms a June 30 StarBizWeek article which stated that he was on his way out and the search for his successor had begun.

Such speculation was warranted, given that Nazir is the youngest brother of ex-prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, who was ousted in the recent general election and is now facing a string of corruption charges.

“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 statement released yesterday evening.

He said over the past few weeks he had spent “a lot of time thinking about it” and “decided that it would be most appropriate for me to leave upon the completion of T18, CIMB’s four-year recalibration plan launched in 2014”.

The 52-year-old has been instrumental in making CIMB the banking group it is today, compared to its fledgling days as a smallish corporate finance firm.

Nazir became CIMB chairman in 2014 after stepping down as the bank’s group CEO, a position he had held for 15 years.

During his tenure, he helped grow the banking group via a series of mergers and acquisitions and oversaw the group’s regionalisation strategy which enabled it to expand across the region.

In his personal message to CIMB staff yesterday, Nazir said he would not be able “to do justice to my list of personal highlights”, referring to his CIMB career, and as a result, may need to write a book one day.

“I am incredibly proud of the financial results that we have achieved together,” he told the staff.

“In 2003, we listed with a market capitalisation of just RM1.5bil and total assets of RM9.6bil, and by the end of June 2018, we had RM515bil in assets and our current market capitalisation is RM58bil,” he added.

“We have not always got it right, of course, and regrets I do have a few.

“But I think of them as important parts of our successful journey. The mistakes that made us better, the criticisms that made us stronger and the failures that made us humbler.”

In April 2016, Nazir was dragged into a scandal about political funding and alleged misuse of money after it was revealed that his brother Najib had transferred a sum of about RM28mil (equivalent to US$7mil) into his account in the run-up to the 2013 general election (GE13).

The money, which was said to be from debt-laden state fund 1MDB, was disbursed to several people on behalf of Najib.

Nazir was later cleared by current Attorney General (AG) Tommy Thomas and the now Bank Negara governor Datuk Nor Shamsiah Mohd Yunus, but that incident also revealed that CIMB had fallen short in its compliance of some processes.

Banking analysts say Nazir’s departure should not affect the operations of the bank as it already has in place a solid strategy to continue to move forward.

“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,” CIMB said in its statement.

According to the bank’s latest annual report, Nazir had some 43.6 million shares or a 0.47% stake in CIMB, translating to a value of about RM263mil based on the last traded share price of RM6.03.

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