Azman sets timetable to relinquish positions in key subsidiaries
PETALING JAYA – One of Malaysia’s banking icons, Tan Sri Azman Hashim, will relinquish his chairmanship and positions in the boards of six subsidiaries within the AMMB Group, including its key entities such as the commercial and investment banks by the end of next year.
Azman will, however, remain as chairman of AMMB Holdings Bhd, which is the holding company of the group, and focus on strategic initiatives to strengthen the group.
As part of a transition plan on his chairmanship and board membership, Azman, who is responsible for growing the bank to its current position as the sixth-largest lender in the country, will retire as chairman and a board member of the six subsidiaries within the stated time frame.
Among the subsidiaries are AmBank (M) Bhd, which is the commercial bank, AmInvestment Bank Bhd and AmBank Islamic Bhd. These entities are the cornerstone of the banking group and are wholly owned by AMMB Holdings.
The other three subsidiaries are AmMetLife Takaful Bhd, AmMetLife Insurance Bhd and AmGeneral Insurance Bhd.
According to AMMB’s announcement to the exchange, Azman, who is AMMB’s second-largest shareholder with an effective stake of 12.97%, would leave the takaful insurance arm by the end of February this year, followed by the other two insurance divisions by the end of this year.
The banker, who will be 78 in July, will resign from the boards of AmBank and AmInvestment Bank by end-December 2018 and has scheduled an earlier departure of April this year from AmBank Islamic.
“Having put in place changes to the senior management of the group and as AMMB and its operating entities begin their next phase of growth and development, Tan Sri Azman is confident that it is now the right time for him to initiate the planned transition of the chairmanship at the respective operating entities,” AMMB stated.
Azman was appointed to the board of AMMB Holdings on Aug 15, 1991 and has been the chairman of the company since then.
“The board is appreciative and fortunate that he has agreed to remain in his role as chairman of AMMB.
“Over the last 35 years, Tan Sri Azman has been a guiding force in building the group to what it is today and has been exemplary in his role as chairman of the respective entities,” AMMB said.
It added that the transition and succession planning are another testament of his foresight in strengthening the group’s growth in decades to come.
In a letter to fellow employees obtained by StarBiz, Azman said he had been considering reducing his job commitments and had already done so for his two listed companies, AmCorp Properties Bhd, where his daughter Shalina is now the chairman, and RCE Capital Bhd, where his son Shahman has taken over.
“I am now planning the transition of my chairmanships and directorships of the operating entities within the AMMB Group over the next two years, by which time I will also be nearing 80 years old.
“I am confident that the orderly search process for the new chairman of the above entities that the group is undertaking over the next two years will ensure a smooth transition of my responsibilities,” Azman noted, adding that he would remain as AMMB group chairman and had no plans to divest his major shareholdings.
Azman also said in the letter that he would continue to collaborate with the boards and managements of the entities to enhance synergies among the business units, as well as harmonise the group’s policies and strategic plans.
“The board and I will maintain our oversight and monitor the performance, activities and progress of the operating units.
“I look forward to continue my role as AMMB chairman and believe that the talent of AmBankers with the support of our customers and stakeholders will enable us to create further value and drive sustainable growth in the group,” said Azman.
The transition in the leadership change taking place in AMMB is a string of moves that has taken place within the group in the last two years.
The board has seen some new faces such as former PwC Malaysia executive chairman Datuk Seri Ahmad Johan Raslan and Seow Yoo Lin, who was formerly managing director of KPMG Malaysia, and Datuk Rohana Tan Sri Mahmood as among measures to strengthen the supervision at the management level.
The bank also has a new group chief executive officer in the form of Datuk Sulaiman Mohd Tahir, who has brought in some new faces, including Uji Sherina Abdullah who is the group’s new chief human resource officer and Faradina Mohammad Ghouse, its new group chief compliance officer.
Sulaiman replaced Ashok Ramamurthy from the Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd group, who had left to go back to Australia.
The changes in the board and top management came as AMMB Group became a focal point of attention because of its dealings with the troubled 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB), which is a subject of investigations by local and foreign banking authorities for its money transactions.
AMMB had arranged the bonds for 1MDB’s first loan tranche of RM5bil. Subsequently, the money was channelled to several entities in the Cayman Islands for transactions that have come under investigations.
The transactions took place in about late 2009 and the bank was fined by Bank Negara to the amount of RM53.7mil for not following procedures when dealing with the remittance of funds overseas.
Towards this end, Bank Negara fined AMMB RM53.7mil for failing to comply with certain banking regulations that were carried out by commercial and Islamic banking arms.
Although the banking group did not reveal details of its non-compliance, it has been reported that the transactions were linked to 1MDB and SRC International Sdn Bhd, another entity that is owned by the Federal Government.