‘PNB to do its best to ensure better returns’

  • Nation
  • Saturday, 21 Dec 2019

KUALA LUMPUR: Datuk Seri Azmin Ali says Permodalan Nasional Bhd (PNB) will do its best to ensure depositors and shareholders receive better returns after announcing one of the lowest dividends for its Amanah Saham Bumiputera (ASB) trust units. Pointing out that PNB was facing a “legacy issue”, the Economic Affairs Minister said what was most important was for the government-linked investment company to conduct good governance in all of its responsibilities.

“It involves some RM9bil, not a small amount of money.

“With the current situation, PNB has done its level best to ensure depositors and shareholders get better returns in many years to come, ” he told reporters on the sidelines of the Kuala Lumpur Summit 2019.

On Wednesday, PNB announced the income distribution of five sen a unit plus a bonus of half sen per unit for 2019.

The lowest rate before this was last year’s 6.5 sen plus half sen, while previous income distributions were as high as 14 sen in the 1990s.

Opposition leaders hit out that the all-time low income distribution by ASB showed that investors and businesses were troubled by political instability in Malaysia.

Azmin said other factors that needed to be considered were the volatility of the global market and the issue of past governance.

“The new PNB management has tried its level best and will ensure that (good) governance and accountability are the new pillars of the new team, ” he added.

Azmin also said the government was still searching for Malaysia Airlines Bhd’s (MAS) strategic partner, adding that the proposals received so far were not “attractive enough”.

He said the matter was discussed during Khazanah Nasional Bhd’s board meeting on Tuesday, where the proposals were presented to Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who is Khazanah’s chairman.

“The chairman and board agreed that we should look into other options before making a final decision, ” he added.

Azmin, who also sits on the Khazanah board, said the sovereign wealth fund had received several other proposals for a strategic partnership with MAS.

Asked if the bids were from regional or international players, Azmin said that they came from both.

Over 20 potential investors are said to have been shortlisted to become strategic partners of MAS.

Azmin previously said that several potential strategic or investment partners had suggested taking over the majority shares, while others proposed that Khazanah maintain its shares in MAS.

He said that a decision on MAS’ strategic partner was expected to be finalised by year end or early 2020.

Speaking earlier at a special plenary session themed “Redistribution of Wealth-Shared Prosperity”, Azmin said the summit was an important platform to pool together resources of the international Muslim community to make a concerted push to resolve problems together.

“A ‘Prosper Thy Neighbour’ approach within the framework of Muslim nations means that we need to facilitate free and fair trade among ourselves to generate long-term economic growth, ” he added.

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