Malaysia's CIMB says chairman Nazir Razak, brother of Najib, to step down by year end

Datuk Seri Nazir, the younger brother of former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak, has been CIMB's chairman since 2014. PHOTO: INSTAGRAM/NAZIR.RAZAK

KUALA LUMPUR - Datuk Seri Nazir Razak will end nearly three decades at Malaysian banking giant CIMB on Dec 31, continuing a string of top guns who have exited government-linked companies (GLC) since Pakatan Harapan took power in May.

A statement by CIMB, South-east Asia's fifth largest lender and Malaysia's second largest, on Monday (Sept 24) said Mr Nazir, the younger brother of former premier Najib Razak, will relinquish all positions including group chairman, at the end of the year.

"It was always going to be hard to find the perfect moment for me to leave CIMB - not too soon, not too late - but always with the firm's best interest in mind," he said. He said "my CIMB mission" has been completed with the bank's four-year recalibration plan to turn it into a universal bank for the region.

On Instagram, he added that "I am 52 years young. It is time for me to commit fully to my next mission on the Asean stage", but did not elaborate on future plans after 29 years at the bank.

Bloomberg reported that after leaving CIMB, Mr Nazir may focus on a private equity fund known as Ikhlas Capital he set up recently with several well-connected figures. Mr Nazir had been working with former CIMB banker Kenny Kim, former Indonesia trade minister Gita Irawan Wirjawan, and David Heng, an ex-senior managing director at Temasek Holdings on a regional fund that would seek to raise as much as US$1 billion, people familiar with the matter said in November.

Mr Nazir confirmed his interest in the private equity project in an interview with Bloomberg in December, before the election upset.

Mr Nazir was group CEO of CIMB for 15 years until moving up to chairman in 2014. Under his leadership, CIMB was listed in 2003 with a market capitalisation of RM1.5 billion. At the end of June this year, the group was worth RM58 billion (S$19.2 billion).

The Straits Times understands that Mr Nazir was among one of the earliest names listed by the new government to be forced out. Dozens of other GLC and state agency heads have rolled, most notably former central bank governor Muhammad Ibrahim, savings fund Permodalan Nasional chairman Wahid Omar, and sovereign wealth fund Khazanah's entire board of directors including its managing director Azman Mokhtar.

Mr Nazir took a month's leave in 2016 as the bank reviewed, and cleared him of, his role in distributing political funds for his brother using a CIMB account during the 2013 general election.

Meanwhile, The Star newspaper reported that Petra Energy announced on Monday that a director, Datuk Nizam Razak, another brother of Najib, has resigned. Petra Energy, a player in the oil and gas industry, said in a filing with Bursa Malaysia that Mr Nizam is leaving to pursue other business ventures. He owns 29.25 million shares in Petra Energy.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.