RHB Capital chief said to have resigned after merger with CIMB scrapped

KUALA LUMPUR (Bloomberg) - RHB Capital managing director Kellee Kam resigned after more than three years as head of Malaysia's fourth-largest financial services group, a person with knowledge of the matter said.

Kam will serve out a three-month notice period, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the information isn't public. His resignation comes after RHB Capital last month called off a plan to merge with two other banks to form what would have been the country's biggest financial group by assets.

One of the other banks in that deal - CIMB Group Holdings - announced management changes and investment-banking cost cuts last week. CIMB, RHB Capital and Malaysia Building Society Bhd. scrapped the merger plan in January, citing economic conditions. The deal would have created a group with RM637.9 billion of assets, surpassing the RM612 billion held by Malayan Banking, data show.

Shares of RHB rose 0.4 per cent to RM8.13 as of 11:12 a.m. in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday. The stock gained 6.7 per cent this year, compared with the benchmark FTSE Bursa Malaysia KLCI Index's 1.4 per cent advance.

Kam had indicated his intention to leave prior to the merger proposal, which was mooted in July, said the person, adding that Kam stayed on to help oversee the process.

An RHB Capital spokeswoman didn't immediately reply to an e-mail seeking comment, while Kam didn't respond to a text message and phone calls.

Bank Merger In 2002, Kam joined Utama Banking Group Bhd., which bought Rashid Hussain Bhd., RHB Capital's parent, the following year. He started his career at ABN Amro Bank in 1998, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Kam led the RHB group's corporate finance and treasury operations, a profile on the company's website showed. He was named as RHB Capital's chief financial officer in June 2007 and managing director in May 2011.

Under Kam, RHB Capital harbored ambitions to expand outside of its home market into Southeast Asia. It bought OSK Holdings Bhd.'s investment-banking business for 1.95 billion ringgit in 2012.

"We need a path to eventually get up to the leaders of the region," Kam said in an April 2013 interview with Bloomberg News. "One of the compelling logics of the OSK transaction was to make us more than just Malaysia."