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Spotlight on CIMB


The face of CIMB: Nazir has spent close to three decades at the banking group, with 15 of those years as CEO.

The face of CIMB: Nazir has spent close to three decades at the banking group, with 15 of those years as CEO.

What’s next for the banking group with Nazir’s impending departure?

CIMB GROUP Holdings Bhd chairman Datuk Seri Nazir Razak (pic) finally squelched all speculation this week when he announced that he will be leaving the lender by the end of the year, well ahead of the expiry of his chairmanship next August.

While some say that Nazir has been planning to exit the group for some time already, wanting to do other things, the timing of his announcement is questionable given that his brother, ex-premier Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak was hit with 25 charges of graft and money laundering only last week.

We will never really know if Nazir – who calls himself 52 years “young” in his farewell message posted on Instagram – wanted his career at CIMB to come to an end at this point in time but the real question now is where will CIMB stand, post-Nazir?

Theoretically, a company chairman is not supposed to be hands-on when it comes to operations.

But in Nazir’s case, like it or not, he has been the face of the country’s second-largest lender having spent 29 years at the bank rising from the ranks.

And the market equates CIMB with him.

The face of CIMB: Nazir (inset) has spent close to three decades at the banking group, with 15 of those years as CEO.
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“Let’s just say he has an overarching presence,” quips a banker.

Helped by his stewardship, CIMB has managed to grow from a small corporate finance firm in the late 1990s to the country’s now second-largest banking group by asset size after Malayan Banking Bhd (Maybank).

On the whole, market observers say post-Nazir, CIMB’s operations should not suffer because a capable leadership team and a solid business plan have already been in place for some time.

In fact, following Nazir’s announcement to quit, the CIMB stock did not fall much, suggesting that the market has accepted the decision and is not overly anxious.

One senior banker also points out that CIMB, which is 27.3% controlled by Khazanah Nasional Bhd, is institutionalised, therefore theoretically, it should not be susceptible to any one single individual influence.

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