Banking industry members express shock over Najadi's death

PETALING JAYA: Members of the Malaysian banking industry have expressed their shock and sadness over the death of former managing director of Arab-Malaysian Banking Group (now AmBank Group) Hussain Ahmad Najadi.

AmBank Group chairman Tan Sri Azman Hashim said he was deeply saddened by the unfortunate incident and expressed his deepest condolences to Najadi’s family.

A local veteran banker, who declined to be identified, said he knew Najadi as an aggressive and ambitious businessman.

Another industry observer said Najadi was known by his acquaintances in the financial industry as someone with “boundless energy” who remained actively involved in business despite his age.

Universiti Malaya adjunct professor and former banker Datuk Dr R. Thillainathan said he last spoke to Najdi at 11am yesterday.

“We were talking about a book that Najadi had wanted to write. It was about the decline of the West,” he told The Star last night.

He also said Najadi was a well-respected figure in the banking industry, especially in investment banking, he added.

Dr Thillainathan was also quoted in an article by StarBizWeek on Oct 8, 2003, as saying that Najadi was a great investment banker, a pioneer and an innovator who “frowned upon straight lending”.

Thillainathan had formerly worked in Arab-Malaysian Merchant Bank in 1980.

The same article, which was titled: “The ‘Arab’ in Arab Malaysian”, quoted Johari Low, who had worked with Najadi, as saying that he was a “man full of ideas”.

“He had extensive contacts in Europe and the United States and I learnt a lot working under him. He had ideas and he pushed for them with passion,” he added.

Low is now chairman of Rockwills Inter­national Sdn Bhd.

Bahrain-born Najadi, 75, was chairman and CEO of Arab Investments for Asia Kuwait Ltd (AIAK), which founded AMBG in 1975.

Najadi exited the local banking scene in 1982 after selling his stake in AMBG to Azman, who subsequently helmed the group and renamed it as AmBank.

The financial-savvy Najadi came back to Malaysia about 10 years ago after having been away from the country for 20 years. He remained a well-known figure in the financial industry as the head of AIAK, which claims to be the financial bridge between oil-producing countries of the Middle East, Malaysia and the Asean region.

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