Business News: Corporate movements for 2012

THE curtain came down on the corporate world with a standing ovation after the market performed relatively better than its regional peers but the excitement also comes from a slew of changes and shakeups in top managements of some big conglomerates. Following these changes, it will be a thrill to follow the developments of these heavyweight companies with new faces in their drivers’ seats and how they are going to steer the companies for future growth.

Utility powerhouse, Tenaga Nasional Bhd (TNB), has a new president and chief executive officer Datuk Wira Azman Mohd, who was appointed on July 1.

The 55-year-old Azman, who was a former chief operating officer and executive director of TNB, took over the leadership from 47-year-old Datuk Seri Che Khalib Mohamad Noh who had been with the company for seven years.

The replacement did not spark much surprise in the market as rumours was rife that Che Khalib was not interested to seek renewal of his contract.

Nevertheless, Che Khalib has left an impact on the company with his radical changes and, in the process, transformed it into a leaner TNB. The company has also reduced its gearing and total debt fell significantly. It also retired some US dollar bonds.

One of the things that investors liked about TNB under Che Khalib was his pursuit of transparency and accountability in the sector as a whole. One of the initiatives Che Khalib introduced was to make the awarding of power plants based on an open-tender basis.

At the helm of TNB now, Azman has daunting tasks ahead of him especially with regard to natural gas supply, where demand is expected to pick up during the Chinese New Year.

TNB’s gas-fired plants are supposed to receive stable supply of natural gas by September from the Petronas regassification plant in Sungai Udang, Malacca. But the supply has been delayed and rescheduled to a new target date in the first quarter of this year.

Meanwhile, Che Khalib, soon after his exit, has not shied away from the corporate world as he has been appointed chief operating officer, finance, strategy and planning of DRB-Hicom Bhd.

A bigger top management shakeup is seen in national automaker, Proton Holdings Bhd, after it bids farewell to the stock exchange under its new owner DRB-Hicom.

Having succeeded in its bid to take Proton private, DRB-Hicom has delisted the national carmaker after securing more than 90% interest through its takeover offer after its share sale and purchase agreement with Khazanah Nasional Bhd .

Proton experienced several top-level resignations, a development that paved the way for its new owner to carry out a sweeping management overhaul in the group.

Chairman and director Datuk Seri Mohd Nadzmi Mohd Salleh was the first to resign in March. He was a director nominated by Khazanah in Proton.

Next was Proton managing director Datuk Syed Zainal Abidin Syed Mohamed Tahir who also tendered his resignation soon after DRB-Hicom started to stamp its mark on Proton when it appointed Datuk Lukman Ibrahim as deputy chief executive officer of Proton.

DRB-Hicom introduced a five-man committee that controls the company’s daily management.

DRB-Hicom also shook up the management of Group Lotus plc, Proton’s UK luxury sports car maker in June where the automotive giant sacked its suspended Lotus chief executive officer Dany Bahar and appointed a new chief operating officer Aslam Farikullah.

Going forward, under its new management, Proton shifted a gear up with conglomerate DRB-Hicom playing matchmaker for the national carmaker to forge a strategic collaboration with Japanese giant Honda Motor Co Ltd in November.

The passing of the torch was also apparent in a few family-controlled companies, namely Berjaya Corp Bhd, Hartalega Holdings Bhd and Tan Chong Motor Holdings Bhd.

In February, Berjaya Corp Bhd (BCorp) founder and controlling shareholder Tan Sri Vincent Tan Chee Yioun announced that he was retiring from an active corporate role in the company.

The 60-year-old Tan, who controls the Berjaya empire, called it a day as chairman of BCorp which he founded nearly three decades ago and appointed Datuk Robin Tan, his eldest son, as the interim chairman.

Vincent whose wealth is worth US$1.2bil (RM3.6bil) according to the Forbes magazine was quoted as saying he wanted to focus on the spiritual side of life and corporate social responsibility commitments.

Robin, 37, a Bachelor of Social Science degree in Accounting/Law gradute from the University of Southampton, UK joined the group in 1995 as an executive and rose through the ranks to become general manager of corporate affairs two years later.

He was appointed as an executive director of Berjaya Group in December 1997 until his resignation in September 2001. Robin returned to the business and was appointed as an executive director of BCorp on Dec 21, 2006.

He is also CEO of Berjaya Sports, executive director of Sports Toto Malaysia Sdn Bhd and chairman of Berjaya Media Bhd, Berjaya Food Bhd and Sun Media Corp Sdn Bhd. He is also director of Berjaya Hills Bhd, Berjaya Sompo Insurance Bhd, KDE Recreation Bhd and Berjaya Golf Resort Bhd.

Another father-to-son change of guard was also seen in glove maker company Hartalega Holdings Bhd whose founder and managing director Kuan Kam Hon has been redesignated executive chairman of the glove producer, paving the way for his son Mun Leong, 36, to helm the company as managing director.

Mun Leong, before the appointment in November, was Hartalega’s executive director and deputy managing director and has been with the world’s largest maker of nitrile gloves for 11 years.

Mun Leong joined the company’s engineering department in 2001 a nd was appointed an executive director in 2008.

Another family-related transition happened at Tan Chong Motor (TCM) where managing director Tan Eng Soon, aged 63, resigned from his position in June.

He was replaced by executive deputy chairman and Eng Soon’s brother Datuk Tan Heng Chew in July.

In the property sector, Malaysian Resources Corp Bhd (MRCB) CEO Datuk Mohamed Razeek Md Hussain Maricar resigned from the company on Aug 18.

Razeek joined MRCB as chief operating officer in June 2009 and was made CEO as well as a board member on Dec 1, 2009.

MRCB, 42% owned by the Employees Provident Fund (EPF), made the announcement via a filing with Bursa Malaysia without naming a successor to helm the company.

Razeek was then headhunted by DRB-Hicom to be its chief operating officer, services and properties, in September.

A slew of top-level management changes were also observed at several companies controlled by Johor Corp Bhd (JCorp), that included the appointment of Datuk Ahmad Zaki Zahid as managing director of KFC Holdings (M) Bhd and QSR Brands Bhd.

Ahmad Zaki, 41, resigned as executive director of Kulim (M) Bhd on Wednesday. The reason cited was that he intended to focus on the operations of KFC and QSR after the companies are taken private.

JCorp, EPF and UK-based CVC Capital Partners teamed up in a US$1.65bil (RM5.12bil) offer to buy the businesses of KFC and QSR.

At EGMs held in the last quarter of last year, KFC and QSR shareholders approved the disposal of the companies’ business and undertakings to Massive Equity Sdn Bhd, the vehicle for the buyout.

Ahmad Zaki is also no longer managing director of Damansara Realty Bhd.

In the banking sector, the resignation of Renzo Viegas, the deputy managing director of RHB Bank Bhd from his post at the bank in March was unexpected.

His replacement is not known yet but word has it that retail and global financial banking, which were Viegas’ portfolios, will report directly to RHB Bank’s current managing director Johari Abdul Muid.

Shortly after his resignation, Viegas joined CIMB Bank Bhd as its group deputy chief executive officer and head of consumer banking in April.

Viegas heads CIMB’s Malaysian consumer bank and provides oversight for the Singapore and Cambodian markets.

Source: The Star

Published: Saturday, January 5, 2013

By: SHARIDAN M. ALI

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